Tom Landis’ “Howdy Homemade Ice Cream” in University Park, Texas is famous for not only their friendly customer service but also their best employees. The entire store and process was created to accommodate people with different abilities. For example, the cash register only accepts bills, simplifying the process of different transactions.

This business was clearly not just created to be a charity as Landis describes this as giving “no handouts”. He hires his employees because they are the type of people he wants working there: kind, honest, and hardworking. He explains his philosophy by asking businesses to “broaden [their] bases and look not at where the disabilities are, but the abilities.” When patrons walk into Howdy’s, a clean, warm, and welcoming space with friendly workers greets you with a big smile. One customer, K.K. Atkinson, describes Howdy’s employees as “Awesome. Incredible. They can’t wait to help you. They’re as happy as you are.” And not only do the customers love the experience, but the employees do too.  And Lindsey Riddel, who’s first job is Howdy Homemade, says that she “like[s] to see the smiles on little kids and their parents.” And a smile was put on my face when I first watched the CBS news video covering this amazing place.  By working at Howdy’s, the workers learn customer service skills and again experience that encourages their ambition. “I want to be an entrepreneur and go into philanthropy,” employee Chris Creixell, who has worked here for one year, tells CBS. I think it is a really great way to employ people with special needs and to focus on their abilities rather than their disabilities. This mindset of hiring should be more universal because, as Landis explains it to CBS, “there are 240,000 adults with special needs (in North Texas) who are desperately praying for what you and I take for granted: a job.”And I hope this store inspires a greater focus on hiring people with great character traits, rather than focusing on ability. 

Featured Image via Howdy’s Homemade Ice Cream