Howdy Homemade Ice Cream is a franchise on a mission.
Its goal is to provide more jobs for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. But it is also about helping other employers see disabled people as a reliable workforce.
Paul Berg, 42, had several jobs before scooping ice cream at a shop in the Mass Avenue Cultural District. At his previous job, he was given menial and obnoxious tasks such as cleaning toilets. But his work at Howdy Homemade makes him smile.
In honor of the franchise’s Texas roots, he greets each customer with “Howdy” before serving the ice cream made in-store. He said the main difference between his previous employer and his current employer is that Howdy Homemade has the friendliest people.
In 2017, only 36% of Americans with intellectual or developmental disabilities were in paid employment, and most of those jobs involved “tokenizing” tasks that paid below the minimum wage. It did, supporters say.
Entrepreneur Tom Landis founded Howdy Homemade Ice Cream in Dallas in 2015 to improve its dire rates. The company has begun franchising, with a 10th store due to open soon, and currently employs a total of 167 people.
In August, a video of employees celebrating their first paycheck from Howdy Homemade went viral.
When the company hit hard times in 2020, Landis created a GoFundMe account and raised $104,560 from 1,400 donors. He received an additional $50,000 from CNBC’s “The Profit” host Marcus Lemonis on October’s “Today Show.”
Cindy Carter and Carmela Toler, co-owners of the Indianapolis store at 370 N. New Jersey St., first heard about the franchise on the Today Show.
Carter and Toler previously served as COO and CEO, respectively, at Indianapolis-based LEL Home Services. The company offers Medicaid waivers to individuals and families affected by disability.
After seeing Landis on TV, the two decided to take the chance of opening a store in Indianapolis. After they conducted a virtual his interview with Landis, the Indianapolis franchise was given the green light to open in September.
Carter said Landis is picky about who can buy the franchise. Also, half of the franchise’s employees must be disabled.
“They only pick people who are trying to advance their vision,” she told IBJ. ”
Carter and Toler found employees primarily through working with LEL Home Services, but they also apply online, so they have about a dozen employees on the waiting list. She now has 12 employees and his average hourly wage is $13.06.
Providing a model
Indiana has a growing number of accessible and inclusive jobs. This provides an alternative to protective programs where people with IDD only work with each other in her one location, often completing repetitive tasks.
According to the 2022 Indiana Day and Employment Services Outcomes System report, the average hourly wage for those working in protected employment is $3.32, less than half the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
The same study found that between 2017 and 2022, individual employment, or employment outside of protection programs, increased by 25%. According to Andy Kirby, he manufactures at the University Health of Indiana and Toyota Motors in Indiana, where he is two companies that have worked to employ people with disabilities. , Executive Director of Arc of Indiana.
These companies partner with The Arc to create a training and hiring pipeline. IU Health’s Ball Memorial Hospital is a frequent employer, providing spaces for the disabled at The Arc’s Erskine Green Training Institute. In the southwest corner of the state, Toyota offers employment opportunities at The Arc of Southwest Indiana.
Many employers have determined that an employee with a disability cannot do a job if he or she is unable to do a small part of the job.
She said Toyota takes a different approach, analyzing each individual to provide accommodation and support that person’s strengths.
“They are doing great with their focus on recruiting and retaining individuals with disabilities, especially those with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell’s agency uses funds from America’s Rescue Plans Act to promote more equitable employment for people with IDD. Through his consultancy he currently supports 33 protected employment providers. Consultants analyze providers’ business models to help transition to competitive wages.
The agency also aims to increase the proportion of people with IDD in individual employment over the next five years. Mitchell said Howdy Homemade shows that people with disabilities can and should be paid competitive wages.
Carter and co-owners believe many businesses that show signs of “help needed” could benefit from considering workers with disabilities.
“Employers and employees just have to connect and give [people with disabilities] Because if someone is willing to help you train with an open mind and set clear expectations, they are very capable. ”
Some companies are guilty of tokenizing their employees with disabilities, Carter said. One woman told her that in a retail job, she had no choice but to vacuum for a few years.
“She went to her employer and asked, ‘Is there anything else I can do?’ rice field.”
break down barriers
While many businesses are struggling to retain employees, Howdy Homemade’s Indianapolis store has lost only one employee since opening in September.
Carter said her experience with LEL Home Services has helped break down barriers to getting people with IDD employed and learning on the job. And those barriers can start with the application process.
To help people with IDD, employers can ask questions rather than requiring applicants to complete paperwork or electronic forms themselves, Carter said.
Mitchell, who works with states, said companies interested in hiring people with disabilities often need to rethink where they post jobs and how they structure their listings.
“Leading with educational requirements and desirable work experience requirements can alienate people who don’t have extensive experience in the workplace,” she said. It can discourage people who might become
Employers may also need to provide accommodation during training. According to Carter, Howdy’s training involves breaking down tasks and using visual aids and rote tactics. Shop Shift Her leader acts as a mentor to her colleagues and trains staff until they can work on their own. The store has three shift leaders.
At the Indianapolis shop, 18-year-old Brysen Thomas is the shift leader. He heard about this job opportunity from his mother, who works for LEL Home Services.
Though Indiana’s winter weather has slowed sales, Thomas says the store still has a steady flow of regulars. A mom frequently brings her four children to make desserts for the staff.
“It’s been really fun to see the community grow here,” Thomas said. “Everyone loves ice cream, so it helps spread love and all.”
Howdy Homemade not only pays its employees, but also provides opportunities for employees with disabilities to socialize and be part of the community. These interactions also help customers become more open-minded, says Thomas.
“I think it’s changing employees, but I think it’s also changing communities because every time an employer becomes inclusive, people realize that they are just people and want to be included. “Because it shows the community. They want a worthy role in employment. They’re just looking for opportunities,” Carter said.
Located on Cultural Trail, off Mass Avenue, next to Needler’s Fresh Market on New Jersey Street, Howdy Homemade is a promising destination, especially in the warmer months.
Carter says the store is still relatively unknown, but crew members make it a point to serve joggers, bikers, Mass Avenue strollers, and especially “Howdy Dogs” who come in for a treat every day. looking forward to it.
But this ice cream shop is looking to expand beyond that wall. Catering and being a vendor at sporting events is a large part of the Howdy Homemade chain’s capabilities, and efforts are underway to bring it to life in Indianapolis.
Carter said the owners are in talks with Lucas Oil Stadium about vendor slots. And the group plans to prepare for the wedding soon.Howdy Homemade employee Berg said the shop should also sell ice cream at the Special Olympics.