Hiring those with Developmental Disabilities is a matter of Leadership!

Last time we posted I discussed how my hunch that hiring people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) was key to a business’ success. It wasn’t an option. If a company is going to be all they can be then they need to hire those with IDD.

I ran across an empirical study that backed up my hunch. With permission of the research company we have put the research on our website as a free item you can order. Since it’s a PDF file you can down load it immediately. Report by the Institute for Corporate Productivity

I’ll be unpacking this great research over the next couple of weeks. Don’t forget that our special people at Furnace Hills Coffee roast special coffee. We believe we have the best coffee you can purchase, so shop for some today on our website (www.furnacehillscoffee.com).

Key findings
Survey analysis of organizations that employ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities found:
1) Companies hire people with IDD for business reasons and are rewarded with business benefits.
Multiple dividends are cited, including the addition of highly motivated employees, demonstrating an inclusive and diverse culture that’s attractive to critical talent pools, and improving customer satisfaction.
2) The profile of a worker with IDD reads like that of an ideal employee.
Descriptors of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities include: dependable, engaged, motivated, great attendance, attention to work quality, and high productivity.
3) Positive reactions from employers abound.
Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed say hiring workers with IDD has been a positive experience, and of those, nearly one-third say the experience has exceeded their expectations.
4) Challenges are fewer than expected and resources are greater than anticipated.
Employers report minimal difficulty with preconceived challenges, while support resources for a successful placement—like job profile matching and guided onboarding—are readily available.
Analysis of the data also revealed that success related to hiring workers with IDD is reflective of the level of commitment an organization has to diversity and inclusion (D&I). Integrating D&I as part of the overall organizational strategy—as opposed to addressing it as part of a compliance initiative, a general corporate social responsibility strategy, or simply not addressing it at all—is a critical first step—one that also has a positive
connection to market performance.

What do you think of this research? Does it change the way you think of hiring those with IDD? Can we work together to change the workplace landscape in America?


A Matter of Leadership — Hiring those with Developmental Disabilities

In my last blog I bragged about our three employees who have developmental disabilities. I compared them with those who are “normal” (Who really is normal?) and stated that ours stack up with the best.

So that got me thinking. Could this premise be true, Not having at least one person on your payroll with developmental disabilities makes you not as good as you could be if you did. Does that make sense? In other words if a company does not hire those with developmental disabilities they are choosing not to be as good as they could possibly be. To back up my premise I was scouring the internet for resources that might make my point. I found this one quoted below. It’s just the first three paragraphs, but it makes my point. I’ve included the link so you can read the article in its entirety.

Some of the world’s largest companies have launched initiatives to hire individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). For many businesses, it may have begun as a philanthropic project or public relations effort to repair their images in the community.

But these employers, large and small, are amazed to find that hiring these individuals amounts to far more than a feel-good gesture. It amounts to a smart business decision with enormous dividends.

Companies are rewarded with loyal employees with resilient work ethics and positive attitudes that are instilled into the entire team. The work environment becomes more inclusive and customers who frequent these businesses even report higher levels of satisfaction.

Pledging “I’m In To Hire” Individuals With Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities

This blog post is just touching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to why employers should hire adults with developmental disabilities. Over the next several weeks I’ll be unpacking a report that supports this hunch I have about adding those with developmental disabilities to your work force is a benefit for your company.

So what about where you live. We live in Carroll County, Maryland. In talking to professionals at Good Will and the ARC they say there are 100’s of individuals with developmental disabilities that are unemployed in our county alone. Armed with excellent empirical data we can make the case for every business in our county to hire someone with a developmental disability. It’s a wise business decision.

In the mean time don’t forget about Furnace Hills Coffee. We have three talented dedicated adults who add so much to our coffee roasting business. Let’s spread the word that we want to improve the lot of businesses in our county, state and country by making sure they employ one of our children, friends, those who can add value to the commerce of this country.

Click on the picture below of Erin and order some of the best coffee you’ll ever taste in this region of the world. Roasted by Erin, Chris & Jason! We are so proud of them!

Erin & Sonofresco

A Matter of Leadership — Special Coffee or Special People or Both!

It has been a while since posting on this website. I have decided to start sharing on a regular basis our balance between coffee and people. You see Furnace Hills Coffee was started to provide jobs for people with developmental disabilities. Today we employ three people with developmental disabilities:

  • Erin has Down syndrome
  • Jason has Cerebral Palsy
  • Chris is Autistic

Our challenge to ourselves has been to roast the best coffees available showing the world that these disabilities don’t slow down our employees and in fact we can compete with anyone in the marketplace. I believe we are proving that challenge true! I truly believe that these three individuals roast and package some of the best specialty coffee you can drink in the USA. First let’s talk about what makes these three so special then later this week we’ll talk about why the coffee they roast is so special.

Special People:

  • Erin: She has a passion for roasting special coffee. She calls our roastery her shop. When she can’t go into work she cries and tells me, “I have to work, that’s my job.” How many people do you know cry when they can’t go to work? How many people do you know call where they work their company? If we don’t get at least ten orders overnight she us upset and is concerned that there may be nothing for her to do that day. She loves the coffee named after her, Erin’s Breakfast Blend. In fact she calls it, “My Breakfast Blend.” Do you know of anyone who approaches there work like Erin does?
  • Jason: He loves working at Furnace Hills Coffee. He has a passion to see us succeed. He calls on organizations and companies who may be able to use our coffee in his spare time. He wants to be a part of ever special event we do. He comes to work happy and puts his full energy into all he does. Jason has Cerebral Palsy. Yet that has not stopped him from doing everything in the shop. He has learned work arounds when it comes to the tasks he’s been asked to perform. And he does it with joy! When did you know of an employee who worked on his/her own time to make the company a success?
  • Chris: Do your employees or co-workers include a secret ingredient in their work? Chris does. He includes a pinch of love. Wouldn’t it be great if our co-workers said something like this, “I have the presentation done all it needs now is a pinch of love.” That’s Chris for you. He’s another one who cries when he can’t come to work. Did you ever cry when you couldn’t come to work?

I will measure our special people against your people any day and I do believe we will come out on top.

Check out our story here: Furnace Hills Story

Thursday we’ll discuss the rest of the team and what makes them so special. Don’t worry we’ll get around to this special coffee we roast. The best in the world! It is a matter of leadership!


A Snapshot of the American Male:

Hi Guys,

As I have said before I am starting to be a sub-blog for Frugal Dad (http://frugaldad.com/average-man/). He posted something today that relates directly to A Leader’s View. Our leadership can be determined by what shape we are in. Bad shape challenged leadership, good shape unleashed leadership.

After browsing through the graphic below you may want to ask yourself the following quesitons:

  • Where am I in good shape financially & physically?
  • What areas of my life do I need to work on to get into shape?
  • What aspects of my leadership are depending on getting into shape?
Average Man Infographic

A Model Church:

Did you know the Bible gives us the description of a model church. In fact the Apostle Paul calls the church a model. That church was one he planted in Thessalonica. Chapter 1 verse 7 Paul writes the following: And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.”

Now what made Thessalonica a model church? I think there are a couple of things we can look at in this first chapter that would lead us to that conclusion.

  1. In verse six we see that they were focused on following Christ no matter how difficult it would be. The story of how this church was planted is found in Acts 17. A number of Jews and Greeks believed in Christ and that made the leading Jews jealous. A mob incited a riot that drove Paul out of the city. Yet these new believers in Christ prevailed and moved forward.
  2. Not only did these believers move forward, but their testimony sounded forth through the entire region. That term, “sounded forth” is a word picture of how thunder rolls across the sky during a thunder-storm. What a great way of picturing the outreach and reputation a church has that is focused on sharing Christ with others. It’s like the rolling thunder that starts in the distance and grows and moves over your head and on to the other end of the sky! The church’s reputation and outreach was like that.
  3. They left their former pursuits and idols to eagerly follow Christ. They were marked not only by what they received, but what they gave up.
Do these things mark your church or even small group? What would need to change for your fellowship to be a model like Thessalonica was?
So can you add something to this list as you look at the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians, or do you have another characteristic of a model church you’ve found elsewhere in Scripture? I look forward to hearing about what you find.
Well that’s this leader’s view.

Networked Continued:

I received a lot of great feedback from yesterday’s post. That brought up a couple more things I’d like to share on this topic. And a couple more stories.

First, I think the talking is the most important thing that being networked is all about. You have to talk to people obviously to realize you are connected in some manner. That reminds me of Lowell. Several of our friends come out from Indianapolis to visit us each summer and we take trips in the surrounding area. Well two summers ago we were in Washington, DC doing an urban trekking (a whole other story) trip and had planned an Abraham Lincoln walking tour one evening. We were to meet a national park ranger at the foot of the Washington Monument for the start of the tour. So when we got there we met Lowell, the tour guide. This was open to the public and as others approached he would ask them where they were from. One family was from Romania and he gave them a greeting on Romanian. Another family was from Egypt and he greeted them in Arabic. I was thinking, this guy is good. He knows how to network and make people feel welcome. So then he got to us and asked us where we were from. We said Baltimore, but our friends were from Indianapolis. Lowell replied that he had a sister who went to college at Taylor University. Taylor is a small Christian liberal arts college about an hour north of Indy. My alma mater (Houghton College) is a lot like Taylor and so I got interested in his connections with our friends. So I asked Lowell where he went to college. He said it was a small liberal arts college in western New York that we probably hadn’t heard of. He said he was a Houghton grad. I replied with, “I’m from the class of ’72.” He replied with, “Class of ’75.” We’d been at Houghton at the same time. The next two hours was a great time talking about people we knew in common and sharing Houghton stories. So see, you don’t have to read a lot, just talk to people and see where the connections are.

Second, reading does help, but you don’t have to read a whole book like I mentioned yesterday. Start by reading the paper — or news on the web — and then talk with people. One morning I read an article about how the Moroccan national soccer team had a new coach from France. I stopped by a gas station later in the day and while talking to the guy behind the counter realized he wasn’t from the US so asked him where he was from originally. He replied with, “Morocco.” I stated that it was interesting that Morocco had a new French coach. He was up on his soccer and told me what he thought of the guy and their chances to do better in international competition. I stopped by a number of times after that and we had good discussions about Morocco, religion and personal issues. It all started because I had read an article one morning about the Moroccan national soccer team.

One last thing. You may have been a little uncomfortable reading that I asked some one where they came from originally. Do you know us Americans are the only ones in the world — there may be a couple of other countries — who don’t like doing that. We think it’s rude or something like that. I was listening to some one from Pakistan being interviewed on the radio one time marvelling at the fact that us Yanks don’t do that — ask people where they are from. He said people from other countries enjoy sharing with us where they are from and something about their families and work. He was encouraging Americans to ask. People will gladly share their stories and countries of origin with us.

So don’t forget — read and talk — who knows what may happen!

Well that’s this leader’s view.




I believe that many people are more networked than they think. There are two things — that if people did them — would prove that they are more networked than they think.

First, you need to talk with people. When you’re standing in line talk to the person in front of you. I’ll bet you have some things in common, may even have some friends in common. But we don’t talk with others.

Second, we need to read and then talk about what we have read. That brings people into our lives that perhaps have connections to what we’ve been reading.

One evening I was sharing these “theories” of mine with a group of people. We were eating dinner at a restaurant in our town. They wanted examples so I gave them two. I read a book titled The First Heroes. It was a book about the Doolittle raid over Tokyo. In the book the author wrote about the short runway take-off procedures they practiced at Eglin Air Force Base in FL. A great book. Well, I was working out in at the YMCA and saw a young guy come in and work out and he was wearing an Eglin Air Force Base t-shirt. I wanted to talk with him about whether there was a wall or a display of some kind about the Doolittle Raiders. I lost track of him. I was later sitting in the hot tub with the oldest guy in the YMCA. He was in his late 80’s. The young man came in and sat in the hot tub with us, so I began asking him about Eglin and if there was a display, etc. Then I asked him a question. I asked, “I wonder how they really taught those guys how to take off on a short runway.” At that the old guy in the hot tub with us replied, “Let me tell you how we taught them.” Unbeknown to us, he had been a flight instructor with those guys. We were talking with living history!

The other story I told them about was another book I had read about the Great Raid. It was how our G.I’s rescued a group of POW’s who were survivors of the Bataan Death March in the Philippines. There were about 250 Philippine resistance fighters who helped our guys free the prisoners. Shortly after reading this book I attended a conference. At the refreshment table I met a guy my age who was Asian. I asked him where he was from and he said the Philippines. I told him about the book and the raid. His response was yes he knew about that raid because his father was one of the Philippine Scouts who were a part that action. We had a good time talking about what his Dad told him about the famous raid.

In both situations I felt like I was talking with living history. As I told my friends these two stories, I then told them about another book I had read. The name of that book was The Day the World Came to Town. It was a book that told about what happened to a number of the jumbo jets flying from Europe to the United States on 9/11. They were forced to land in Canada. A number of them landed in Gander, New Foundland. The book is an intriguing story about how this town of less than 10,000 people opened their hearts and homes to thousands of strangers that were stranded there for several days. We wondered what it must have been like. At that point our waitress chimed in and said that she had been a flight attendant on one of those planes and she shared what an awesome experience that had been.

We were amazed! An example of what I had been sharing about actually happened as we sat there having dinner.

So — read a lot and then talk about what you read, even with strangers. See what happens!

Well that’s this leader’s view.