At Furnace Hills Coffee we are all about hiring individuals with developmental disabilities. I’ve posted about that a lot in the past. However we also want to roast some of the best tasting coffees in the USA. An indication that we are on the right track came this past Saturday. We were working in the roastery as usual and a young man and his wife came in to grab a cup of our coffee. They said they were staying with friends who were regular coffee customers of ours and that Erin’s Breakfast Blend was an awesome cup of coffee. They drank a cup or two for breakfast and wanted to come in to see what else we offered.
Well we started talking and sharing about coffee and this guy seemed to know more than the average joe about coffee. I finally stopped and asked, “Who are you? You know too much to just be a casual coffee drinker or a coffee drinker who knows coffee, but now the machines and their components that roast coffee!” So he told us that he was on the Senior Leadership Team for Counter Culture Coffee.
Time out here and let me share a bit about Counter Culture. They are one of the best and most respected specialty coffee roasters in the United States. They directly source all they’re coffees and are known throughout the U.S. in specialty coffee circles. They have roasting facilities on the East & West Coasts. In 2014 their annual revenues were 18 million dollars! They are in the top ten to five when it comes to specialty coffee roasters and number one when it comes to pioneering direct trade principles. You can find out more about them here: https://counterculturecoffee.com/
So when this guy came in and said we had great coffee it was a cudo for Furnace Hills Coffee. It’s one thing to hire those with developmental disabilities. It’s another thing to be compared to the big boys in quality. We are on this journey and are excited about what the future holds for Furnace Hills Coffee. If you want to shop for some of this great coffee. Click HERE and purchase some of this great tasting brew that we love roasting for you!
Our tag line at Furnace Hills Coffee is, “Special Coffee Roasted by Special People.” We believe that our coffee ranks with the best you can buy in this country because special people roast it. Erin, Jason & Chris add something to the work place that no one else can bring. And they do their jobs with excellence.
The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) has launched an initiative that will employ more with developmental disabilities and especially those with Down Syndrome into the mainstream. We are promoting #DSWORKS as part of our initiatives. If you know of a business owner who does not employ someone with developmental disabilities, let them know they are missing out on a great opportunity to improve their culture, create a special product/experience and improve their bottom line. Your friend needs these special people as much as they need to be employed.
Below you’ll read about Michelle. She is someone who has made a difference for a company and a culture in a mall. I think you’ll be as challenged by her story as we have been.
Michelle, who has intellectual and developmental disabilities, also uses an electric wheelchair. Her interests include working with children and visiting one particular shopping mall. While Michelle couldn’t work in daycare to read to children or pick them up, she was able to visit her favorite mall every week. She knew where the pet store was, JCPenney’s, Spencer’s, everything. Easter Seals’ assistant VP of workforce development, Carol Salter, went to the mall to look for ideas for a possible job for Michelle. A global coffee retailer had a kiosk there. Salter approached and asked if they would consider bringing on a staff member if it would make the store more money. Employees of the other stores in the mall often couldn’t get free to visit the coffee retailer, so why not add a delivery service? The store employees were willing to consider the idea. Salter registered with the state vocational rehabilitation services and had a tray built for Michelle’s electric wheelchair, complete with a bolted lock box and cup holders. The pair took several weeks and went to employees in every store, introducing Michelle, saying she was going to work at the coffee retailer and deliver orders. Employees would need to deposit exact change. Salter sewed a coffee store apron to the back of Michelle’s wheelchair, and she was ready to go. Michelle became an employee of the coffee retailer, receiving benefits for part-time work, and expanding her social network. People in the mall knew Michelle by her first name. And the coffee retailer made more money. Patrons started adding more than exact change, so Michelle earned tips as well. After two months, Salter noticed that between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. there were few incoming coffee orders because most mall employees were taking lunch. So she thought, why not use Michelle’s slow time to deliver lunches from the food court? Michelle also began working for the mall’s food court association. Each food court vendor chipped in to pay Michelle to deliver lunches to workers for those two hours each day. A light was installed above each store to alert Michelle when an order was placed for delivery. This success spurred Salter to go to other malls to broach the concept. “Now we have to find people with motorized wheelchairs to fill the spots.”
What an awesome story of how one person with developmental disabilities raised the social and economic environment in one mall. We are telling business owners these days that if you do not hire at least one person who has a developmental disability your business is not reaching its full potential.
Do you know of a business that could hire someone with a developmental disability? Make plans to talk to them this week. Share Michelle’s story with them.
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).
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.