Local Business Sees Productivity Increase After Hiring Young Man with Autism

Andrew White photo

St. Petersburg, FL – Flavored syrup manufacturer, Monin, took six months to develop a specific job just for Andrew White, who has autism. No one at the company foresaw just how beneficial their decision would be – not just because they hired someone with a disability but also because it resulted in increasing the company’s productivity, making Andrew a favorite among his co-workers.

It took a group effort to for Andrew to find his dream job but he is thrilled that things have finally worked out. Andrew hadn’t had much luck in his past job searches, each time he landed a new job, he wouldn’t last very long because it just wasn’t the right fit. That’s when he came to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) for help finding that elusive job. VR helps people with disabilities get or keep a job.

He met VR Counselor Zoe Sieber, who connected him with Job Coach Mona Andrews with PlacementWorks. Mona and Zoe had recently toured the Monin manufacturing plant and knew it would be the perfect place for Andrew to work. “After touring their entire facility and seeing what they do, we mentioned that we thought they would be a great environment for him, and that he might have a future there,” Mona says.

They met with Mike Brewster of Monin and talked about Andrew’s skills and abilities. Mona and Zoe explained that Andrew had a talent for assembly. He loved to build with Legos, and his thoroughness would also be a benefit. They also discussed Andrew’s limitations, but the Monin team wasn’t concerned. “They smiled and understood who Andrew is,” Mona recalls. “They accepted his autism.”

Monin worked carefully to develop a specialized position that would make the most of Andrew’s talent for assembly — production worker helper. He would be responsible for building the pumps for the syrup bottles and placing them in plastic bags.

“We thought this out very carefully, as we wanted Andrew to feel comfortable and set him up for true success with us,” says Mike. “We want him to feel he has a home here and is truly a part of our Monin family.”

When Andrew White walked into his office on the first day on his job at Monin, he found a surprise. There, hanging in the doorway, was a sign welcoming him to the company signed by each staff member and decorated with Legos. For Andrew, that first day welcome showed just how special the Monin staff really are.

Getting back to how this job created to hire someone with a disability has also helped the company, it turns out there was often a sudden need for pumps to accommodate last minute orders. When this happened, supervisors would ask employees on the production line to stop doing their regular jobs and build pumps. “Now that they have Andrew, they don’t have to pull people off the line to fill last minute orders,” Mona explains. “The staff loves him.”

Since taking the position, Andrew’s confidence has soared; he is now more comfortable socializing and beginning conversations. He has become one of the team, and their next goal is to help Andrew get a promotion.

Mona says that Andrew’s success should be credited directly to Monin. “This is not just any employer, this is a caring and compassionate employer who went above the call of duty,” she says. “This is an employer who saw an individual and took the time to learn about him. They committed to help make a difference in his life. That’s the kind of company they are.”

Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a federal-state program committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America’s workforce. The employer-focused website, https://abilitieswork.employflorida.com/, allows businesses to search at no charge for employees who are ready to go to work, as well as to post available jobs. VR has 90 offices across Florida, and last year helped 5,760 Floridians with significant disabilities get or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit http://www.Rehabworks.org.