Congratulations to 2015 Small Business Nominee, TriHQ Inc. The Small Business Award recognizes a company under 50 employees, that develops and applies the concept of ability first and best practices in recruitment, retention and talent management.
The annual Ability First Coalition Champion Awards celebrate and honour businesses, companies, individuals and organizations that have hired and retained people with disabilities in London, Ontario and surrounding area.
Nominee: TriHQ Inc.
Representative: Bill Smith, Vice President & General Manager
Can you tell us a little about your business?
TriHQ Inc, formerly known as Hose Headquarters, is a supplier of Fluid Power products, services, technology, and knowledge to industry in the Greater London area. The business was started by Millard Tilley and is still owned by the Tilley family. What began selling hose and fittings to the construction and agricultural market has grown today to be a trusted advisor in Fluid Power to the who’s who of manufacturing in Southwestern Ontario.
How long have you been in business?
The company was established in 1971.
How many employees do you have?
We currently have 21 employees.
Did you have any prior experience working with people with disabilities?
We did not.
What were your initial feelings on hiring someone with a disability?
There may have been some hesitancy in the unknown and what changes we were going to have to make to accommodate an employee with disabilities. We are a manufacturer it’s not always a fully accessible environment and there are safety risks with a lot of what we do. With the help of Leads we addressed and dismissed any early concerns.
Why did you decide to hire someone with a disability?
It was a bit selfish in the beginning; as a company and a leadership team we had looked at different ways to do something more for our community, something we could get the team behind, and something that would bond us as a team. Fundraisers, charity races, etc., while all good, did not fit our team. When I first took the idea of the Leads Job Carve program to the leadership team they jumped at it. The idea of giving someone a hand up, an individual that we could get to know, that was part of our community, and was going to be a part of the team ongoing was something we really felt would be good for the team bonding.
How did you go about finding the right person for the job?
With the help of Sarah Kellesis from Leads we basically went through our normal hiring process. We looked through resumes Sarah presented us with we rejected some based on the fit but one stood out to us as the right person on paper. We had an interview with him and as is our process included some of our team members, they wanted him to join us so we made him an offer.
Can you describe one of the positions filled?
This position’s title is General Warehouse Support; in that the employee has several functions from clean up of the warehouse to helping put away incoming parts and assisting the warehouse team wherever he is needed.
How has this employee worked out for you?
When I talk to people about this employee, I always start with “He makes me happy”, and the reason is that as a manager more than anything I want all employees to want to come to work, to enjoy being at work, and to contribute to the best of their ability. This employee loves to come to work and tells me that every chance he gets. He will give his very best to any task we assign him and if his leader doesn’t assign enough tasks or those tasks don’t come quickly enough, he will tell him that also. I cannot tell you strongly enough how well it has worked out and how good he is for the team and for a manager I could not ask for anything more, hence “He makes me happy”.
Were there any preconceptions you had about employing someone with a disability?
I don’t think I had any strong misconceptions, I needed to make sure the person had the capabilities to help our company the same as everyone else we hire for the company. I have never been a part of a conversation with fellow employers where I felt I needed to correct any misconceptions and anyone only has to see me smile as I tell them how “He makes me happy” and I speak about what he has meant to our team to get my perspective on the topic.
What is your advice for other employers?
Look for opportunities within your company where you can benefit from an individual who just wants to contribute to the best of their ability and be open to all of the benefits that can be delivered to the company in the bigger picture.
Please finish this sentence, “I hire for Ability First because…”
It’s good for our company.
What does being nominated for the Champion Awards mean to your business?
I honestly don’t know. I had never heard of the awards before we were nominated and we wanted to participate because I am proud of our employee, I am proud of how the team has gathered around him. As a company that has been in London for almost 45 years I think our founder would be pleased that we have found a way to help the business and at the same time help make a small difference in our community. From the team perspective I think they will feel it is a big deal about nothing, our employee has earned his spot and continues to every day he works so they may question what the award is for.
I would like to thank Mallory from Leads for nominating us, we are honored, but we feel we have been the beneficiary of having this employee as part of our team and we are good with that. He celebrated one year with TriHQ on October 17th and we could not be happier about that and I would like to thank Leads and their team for helping us get here.