Vocational rehabilitation counselor helps clients stay positive

| September 15, 2011 | 0 Comments
Jim Reinhard

Jim Reinhardt is the owner of Minnesota Rehabilitation Services in Burnsville. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Jim Reinhardt of Burnsville often sees people at their lowest moments. They have suffered an injury that makes it impossible to do their job anymore.

After they file a workers compensation claim, he calls them. They share their bad news, their concerns and their fears with him as they try to plot their next career move. Listening with a sympathetic, practical and spiritual ear is an important part of Reinhardt’s job as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for his company, Minnesota Rehabilitation Services.

“I either help them get back to work with their pre-injury employer, or I help them find a new career to replace the one they can’t return to because of their injury,” he said. “People who are injured are hurting. They’re afraid they’re going to lose their job.”

Taking a chance

One of the first things Reinhardt does when he meets with a new client is try and put them at ease. An effective tool is to help them focus on the positive, like what skills they have that were not lost to the injury. From there, he helps them with vocational counseling, job skills training, job development and job seeking.

When it comes to the fear of trying something new, Reinhardt can relate to his clients. After starting in the field in 1986, he decided several years ago it was time to strike out on his own. There were several factors that made this a risky move:

He had to sign a non-compete agreement for his employer that meant he couldn’t start a company in that field for a year; so, he had to find other work during that time. He had 10 children to support along with his wife, Nadine, who does not work outside the home.

Reinhardt would have to find all new clients, and enough of them to keep the business going.

He would have the added financial burden of getting health coverage on his own for his family.

“It was a huge decision,” he said of making the move in 2006. “It’s probably the riskiest move I’ve ever made in my life, for sure. I’m not that big of a risk-taker.”

But, with the support and encouragement of Nadine, he pushed forward. Not far into the venture, he was celebrating his 20th client with a pizza party for his family — this after spending the year of his noncompete clause working for Jim Cahill, a Leading With Faith winner last year and founder of his own marketing company.

It was during that year that Cahill witnessed the leadership qualities that he wrote about in nominating Reinhardt for the award this year.

“The biggest example is how he honored the one year non-compete clause his former employer required him to sign,” Cahill wrote.

“He honored it despite the real opportunity to do business on his own prior to the expiration of the agreement,” Cahill added. “He received inquiries from potential clients and would not consider working for them during the one-year time period. The best part of this story was what the Lord did for Jim. On the first day of eligibility, free from the non-compete agreement, Jim got a call . . . which turned into his first client. I always interpreted that as the Lord honoring his honesty.”

Family affair

One of the unique parts of Reinhardt’s business is the employees —his wife and children. All have helped him in various ways, and that’s one of the reasons he started his own company in the first place.

“I really do like the idea of the family being close to the action,” he said. “I try to employ Nadine and the kids as much as possible. . . . It teaches them about business, it teaches them about God’s providence.”

Wrote Cahill: “He wanted his children to pray as a family for the business. As part of their preparation for adulthood, he wanted them to understand the ‘good times and the bad’ of running a business and tighten up the belt when necessary. Jim has endless stories [some amazing] about how the family pulled together when things were tight.”


Title: Owner, Minnesota Rehabilitation Services, Burnsville

Parish: Holy Family, St. Louis Park

Spouse: Nadine

Children: Benjamin, Mary, Charles, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Clare, Sarah, Thomas, Andrew and Samuel

Activities: Member of People of Praise ecumenical Christian community; member of Knights of Columbus, St. Louis Council 3949


Category: Leading With Faith