On a quiet country road, Mark Wafer revs up his bright orange race car. It’s hard to imagine him idle, but Mark knows exactly what it’s like to lag behind.
“I have 20 percent hearing. I understand the barriers. I grew up with those barriers. Thirty years ago people with disabilities didn't get jobs. I had to do and say whatever it took to get a job,” Mark recalls.
He charmed his way into jobs. “But as soon as they found that I was deaf, they fired me,” says Mark.
Instead of working for someone else, he decided to take the wheel and become his own boss. He and his wife Valarie bought their first food franchise. Over the years, they expanded their business into seven locations.
They credit their success to their employees with disabilities who helped them consistently out-perform other quick-service restaurants, or QSRs.
“Our turnover rate of our 250 employees is 38 percent per year. And the average for the QSR business across Canada is about 100 percent. It's a very high cost associated with turnover. Our absenteeism rate is lower. Our innovation rate is higher. Our productivity rate is higher. And our safety rating is much better.”
The disability that Mark once hid is one of the reasons for his success. It opened his business to a whole new talent pool.