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ABLE: How one company's disabled workforce became the key to extraordinary success

Author: Nancy Henderson Wurst (Paperback, 207 pages)

In a time when companies are outsourcing abroad, Habitat International, a Tennessee-based carpet manufacturer, has managed to achieve superior levels of productivity at home, often two to three times greater than its competition. Habitat’s business has grown enormously, with much of its new business coming from work outsourced to them by competitors who could not come close to matching its productivity.

Habitat’s secret: they hire the people no one else will.

At Habitat three of every four workers have a physical or mental disability. They earn normal wages and are cross-trained on every job. They work harder, with less supervision, lower turnover and an unparalleled level of loyalty.

The challenges have been significant; the rewards extraordinary.

This is Habitat’s story. It’s a powerful and moving tale of personal courage, deep commitment and challenging expectations. It’s a story of success and personal triumph. It’ll changes the way you think about business … and the people around you.

The Chapters:

1.       An Able Workforce - Eavesdrop on an extraordinary workplace where employees matter more than money.

2.       The Test - The owners of a Georgia grass-turf company dare to take on an unusual challenge.

3.       “Why can’t We Hire More People Like This?” - A social-services enclave of eight defies stereotypes about people with mental disabilities.

4.       Bucking the System - David and his new plant manager fight the bureaucracy that labels people and hold them back.

5.       Terry: The Love Builder – A special-education graduate with Down Syndrome soars when given a chance to work.

6.       What Were We Thinking? – The Habitat managers persevere as their patience is tested time and again.

7.       Martin: Mr. Determined – A young man with cerebral palsy refuses to accept the word “can’t”.

8.       We Are Family – The workers with disabilities draw the Habitat family closer together.

9.       Lonnie: The Encourager – A sweet-natured poet with schizophrenia shows that “distractions” aren’t all that bad.

10.   David and the Goliaths – Habitat loses a major account because of its disabled workers – and gains another for the same reason.

11.   Daniel: Man Of Courage – A horrific car accident steals a young man’s carefree lifestyle but gives him the power to teach others a lesson about true grit.

12.   Doing Well By Doing Good – Habitat lands a major account, grows by leaps and bounds, and shares its message of hope and acceptance across the U. S.

13.   Sharon: Cinderella – An employee with mental retardation helps train the newcomers – and gives them a run for their money.

14.   Leading By Example – The Habitat managers are forever changed by the people they hire.

15.   Carl: The Company Grandpa – A man at the peak of his career has a stroke and starts all over again.

16.   Love Is Contagious – Business leaders and other Habitat “fans” share what they have learned from this caring place.

17.   The Habitat Advantage: Why The Unconventional Workers Outproduce The Competition – The facts prove it – Habitat’s employees are more productive than conventional workforces. Here’s how they do it.

18.   You Can Do This Too – David Morris and his management team offer straight-shooting advice for entrepreneurs, human resources personnel, and anyone else interested in helping people with disabilities.

 “This book is about gutsy entrepreneurs who opened their minds and hearts by taking a chance hiring people with disabilities, even when the odds were against them… At this remarkable company, people with disabilities have proven, time and again, that they belong in the workplace, just like everyone else. In the long run they pose no more challenges than do people without disabilities, and they often outpace their co-workers. In fact, they’re often the best employees on the payroll.”
From the Preface

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