Kessler's Grocery Store--Success in Training & EmploymentSouth Dakota Retailers Association Jess Au Buchon 11/18/2016
Kessler's Grocery Store--Success in Training & Employment
by Jessica Au Buchon, Au Buchon Photography in Sioux Falls
There are many companies in South Dakota that employ workers with disabilities. Most will tell you they benefit from the reliability and hard work of such employees on staff, and that it benefits the company, all employees, and the community.
Kessler’s in Aberdeen is a great example of a South Dakota business finding success in employing workers with disabilities. Kessler’s Food & Liquor is a family business, open since 1940. Current owner operator Reed Kessler is the 4th generation of his family to operate Kessler’s.
Kessler’s has a long history of working with employees with disabilities. Kelly Comstock is the director of team development at Kessler’s. Comstock explained several employees have come to them through different programs through the years. She noted that their employees with disabilities have proven to be very reliable and often stay with the company long-term.
Accommodations are generally minimal and easy
Comstock explained that Kessler’s will make accommodations for potential employees during the interview process. “For example, we normally conduct group interviews,” she said. “We’ve had coaches ask, ‘Can this individual come in individually and not with other people?’ I’ve had interviews where [the coach will ask], ‘Can I just sit with this person and help with any questions you may be asking?’” Comstock finds accommodations are easy; they just need to be open to different requests.
Comstock explained how with most accommodations, communication and asking questions is key. “Because most of the time it’s going to be easy and doable.”
She also offered some tips. “Individuals who really want to work, really want to work. They don’t want to abuse your programs and your system… Not making preconceived notions of what you think they want. Making sure you just sit down and have a conversation, so you understand what they’re thinking and what you’re thinking and then meet together.”
How hiring people with disabilities benefits the business
There are many advantages that employees with disabilities provide. Comstock thinks that they are very reliable. “Some of our most reliable team members are individuals with special needs. [They are] here for every shift, work hard, are focused, follow directions, are just really good team members.”
She finds hiring people with disabilities to be a huge benefit to Kessler’s, and would encourage business owners in many different industries to look into this work pool. She reasons that “The work ethic is … the biggest reason, turnover can be high in organizations like retailers… I have fewer issues with my team that has special needs than I do in our general population.” Comstock finds there is no reason NOT to hire individuals with disabilities.
She also noted, “I think there were stigmas back in the day and to be able to see people interact with all kinds of people is just a positive thing… It’s just good. Good for us, good for everybody. We have great team members.”
Meet the Author/Photographer-Jessica Au Buchon
Programs and people who assist individuals with disabilities is a topic that is very close to me. I began showing symptoms of Fibromyalgia when I was a teenager, and received a diagnosis when I was 18. With the assistance of Vocational Rehabilitation, I was able to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Digital Art and Design from Dakota State University in 2013. I now work in photography.
My business, Au Buchon Photography, is based in Sioux Falls, S.D. and I specialize in natural light portraits of families and newborns. When I'm not taking or editing photos, I enjoy playing board games with my boyfriend, Josh, or taking walks with our dog, Mya, in one of the many Sioux Falls parks. To learn more about Au Buchon Photography, please visit http://www.aubuchonphoto.com/.