John Kelly calls it good business.
When John Kelly hired Chris, Chris occasionally would come to work frustrated over issues he was facing. John would take the time to meet with Chris before the day started, talk things out, and then both return to work.
“He’s happier now,” John said. “When an employee’s happy, everything works better. Customers know it.”
John Kelly, the third generation owner of Kelly’s Package Store, has since hired numerous individuals with disabilities. He claims to have “done the math,” and the numbers work in his favor.
But there’s more to John’s story than his numbers. For example, he doesn’t mention the time and attention he gives to his new employees to elevate their tasks based on their skill levels.
“Initially they came to help move the load of recycled bottles and cans we have to process,” he explained. “But they’ve mastered that process. Now Chris helps in the back with boxes, and three times a week he shines the floors with our new machine. As a family business, we like to keep our floors spotless.”
John has one individual working at a computer. “There’s always something to do for a trusted employee,” John said, noting that the ice they sell they also bag — 20,000 bags a year.
“The bottom line is that these individuals are good workers. They come in excited to work. They are hitting their goals. BCArc supervisors come by to check on them, help them out, provide any support they might need. It’s a huge bonus for us, and we get a tax credit,” John said.
A New Confidence
“I wasn’t expecting to use the machine,” Chris said of his automatic buffer. He took out of his backpack his “cleaning certificate” which he earned before working at Kelly’s. “I’m really proud of myself. I have rougher days than others, and John has been there for me.”
Chris takes the bus to the store, and is preparing to move into his own apartment shortly. He credits John for giving him the confidence and the ability to better manage his temper when frustrated.
The store, which opened in 1951 by John’s grandfather, also provides catering and bar services for weddings and other events.
“I’m really proud of myself. I have rougher days than others, and John has been there for me.”