Initially Mark Wafer had decided to pursue opportunities in the auto sector, as it played into his skills and passion. This was, until he reviewed the Tim Hortons franchise model and felt that it would be a “good fit.” Now, nearly 20 years later, Mark owns and operates seven Tim Hortons franchise locations in the Scarborough area.
A good fit indeed.
Before the first double-double was ordered, Wafer opened his doors as an inclusive employer and hired people with disabilities in meaningful and competitively paid positions. He has hired 106 people with disabilities since going into businesses. Currently, the 44 of his 250 employees with a disability are playing a prominent role on his team, including in management.
Wafer acknowledges that customers want to do business with corporations that care about a community’s well being. But for him, building a team inclusive of people with disabilities has improved his bottom line. “I discovered quite early on that there were significant business benefits in being inclusive: greater safety, greater innovation, lower absenteeism, much lower turnover rate, and higher productivity, just to name a few.”
By knowing his product, listening to his customers, and supporting his employees, Wafer has been able to build an upstanding reputation, foster innovation, and champion a productive and inclusive workplace culture.
Looking ahead, he intends to grow his business by one or two franchise locations in the next five years and aims to become the Canadian model for inclusion. “We believe that our inclusive model can be copied in any company or corporation regardless of size or location and this will be our goal over the next five years.”
In addition to running a successful company, Mark also speaks internationally on the subject of accessible employment.
Check out the profile of Mark and his approach to inclusive business from CBC’s The National.
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