Jason* is the patriarch of a small South Carolina business he started from nothing and built into the multi-million-dollar electrical supply company he now runs throughout the southeastern United States. While immensely successful, Jason has a problem: finding good employees and then retaining them. As a certified Master Electrician, Jason works hard to find quality candidates and then train new hires in the craft of installing electrical wiring and using control systems to keep our homes, schools, and businesses operating efficiently and without black-outs. It is a long process, requiring patience and a good teacher. Jason estimates that it him about two years to get a new hire to the place where he can run a truck and do service calls on his own. Such is the work of an electrician… it’s a lot of on-the-job training, essentially an apprenticeship. Jason’s emphasis on excellence extends to the finale in an electrician’s training: taking and passing the certification exam.
Most states require an individual to go through a licensing process and pass an extensive exam before they can represent themselves as an electrician and sell their work, but there is a big loop-hole for employees working under the supervision of a Master Electrician. So a lot of companies hire and train workers but don’t insist on the final accreditation process. Jason does. He wants all of his employees running a truck to be individually certified as a mark of his commitment to quality. Therein lies the bugaboo… once an electrician is certified, he often leaves Jason’s employ to strike out on his own or to take a much higher paying job at one of the industry’s powerhouse utility companies, such as Duke Energy or Florida Power & Light.
Until Dominic came along. Dominic was a favor. Jason hired him as a favor to his son. He wasn’t sure Dominic would be able to do much for the company, but Dominic has a good soul and is a hard worker and always has a big smile on his face. His sunny personality alone added to the workmen’s long days. In Jason’s lexicon, Dominic is “slow.” He is mentally retarded or in today’s enlightened description, Dominic suffers from an intellectual disability. But Jason discovered something wonderful about Dominic once he took that chance and hired him: Dominic is great with his hands. He can fix nearly anything. He has the patience to figure out complicated wiring messes. And he is obsessive about keeping the warehouse stock in shipshape order. His contributions benefit the entire staff. What was originally done as a charitable act turned out to be one of the best things Jason had ever done for his company.
Over time, Jason realized Dominic’s skills were too valuable to keep in the warehouse and trained him just like any of his other new hires. It took a bit longer, but Dominic eventually mastered the work and became one of the company’s best go-to men for the most difficult projects. Though his work is stellar, to this day, Jason attests that the best part of having Dominic on board is his positive attitude and cheerful disposition. His simple presence makes the entire workplace culture better. All of Jason’s employees adore Dominic. And Dominic never shows up late and holds the company record for unmissed days.
As his pay increased, Dominic suddenly had a lot more money for himself. Jason helped him to buy his own house and a new truck. Dominic started giving money to his single mother to help in her living expenses. She was worried about how her beloved son would survive after she passed. Little did she know, he would provide well for himself and for her in her golden years, too! What a glorious result for all around.
Dominic has been with Jason’s company for almost 15 years now. He continues to be a top employee and has stayed with the company even though he has been a certified Master Electrician for over ten years. What some may see as his weakness, an intellectual disability and obsessive compulsive disorder, turned out to be an incredible benefit in an industry that requires careful and intricate attention to detail, not to mention safety rules. Jason couldn’t be happier to have found the way to keep and retain good employees. He now goes out of his way in the hiring process to seek out individuals with disabilities, having found them to be the best, hardest working, and most loyal employees of all.
What is your business missing? Are you having trouble finding good people to take the difficult jobs? Is it tough to retain employees after laboriously training them and spending years endowing them with your company’s work ethic and practices? Well, then you are who we need to speak to, because you are missing the piece of the puzzle that just may make it all work. Hiring an individual with disabilities not only comes with tax benefits and the joys of having a smiling and happy employee around, it comes with huge benefits to the bottom-line. Look us up. We can help make it happen. www.advocations.org.
*The names have been changed for confidentiality but this article is a true and accurate account of a real company.