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Making a big noise in business with deaf employees

Bob simply views his hiring practices as just being a level playing field. All his employees are equal no matter how he talks with them, and so are the expectations.

BENZIE COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) -- Xpert Fulfillment is a unique business. In a nutshell, they are kind of like Amazon, a middle man between manufacturers and eventual customers. But if you spend any time at all inside their massive Benzie County warehouse and you quickly realize, it's not just what they do that makes them unique, but also how they do it.

The warehouse at Xpert Fulfillment is about what you would expect. There are lots of shelves, lots of boxes, but sometimes not a lot of chatter amongst employees, at least not the kind you can hear.

Bob Boylan started the company and it's done well, partly because it's a great business model but also because he has created a supportive work environment for all his employees, including the ones who can’t hear. On some days, there are more employees, like his brother Luke, working inside the box filled facility that are deaf than those who can hear. Luke says that makes for a unique environment for the deaf community. One where it’s very easy to function and become just another member of the team. Luke says, "it's a lot of fun to with my brother and with other deaf people as well."

Bob isn’t hiring people who are deaf as a hand out. It's not sympathy for those who can't hear. Bob simply views his hiring practices as just being a level playing field. All his employees are equal no matter how he talks with them, and so are the expectations.

Luke says it's not like that everywhere. He says too many businesses aren't willing to accept a deaf employee out of fear, prejudice or ignorance. Luke says, "a lot of different places have a hard time, difficulties with communications, where here it is free."

The employees talk a lot, you just don't hear it. You must understand sign language to get the point. Since understanding what is being said is important to all the workers at Xpert, many, who have no problem hearing are taking it upon themselves to learn how to sign. Both Bob and Luke say it’s been touching to see, and that having anyone learn a little sign language could have big impact. Luke explains "just proud that we are getting to the point where we can start to help more deaf people, the more people that learn sign, it will always help."

Bob's not on a mission to prove to the world that hearing isn't necessary for success or a fulfilling life, but in some ways, he's doing it. He's created something. It's more than a business. It's an environment where his employees can succeed and where his brother can inspire. Bob says "it is a lot of fun, and it is good to see him encouraging to other employees in the deaf community, to be a role model for them. Personally, it is wonderful to have an environment where we can talk freely."

To learn more about Xpert Fulfillment click here.

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