018 – How Tom Landis hires and trains special needs employees at Howdy’s Homemade Ice Cream.
In this Special Fathers Network Podcast we’re saying Howdy to Tom Landis of Howdy Homemade Ice Cream, in Dallas Texas. In addition to serving great ice cream, Howdy’s is staffed almost exclusively by people with special needs. We’ll meet some members of the Howdy Homemade team and maybe have a taste of some Howdy Homemade. That’s all in this Special Fathers Network Podcast.
Dad To Dad 18 – How Tom Landis hires and trains special needs employees at Howdy’s Homemade Ice Cream.
Tom Couch: This is the Special Fathers Network podcast. The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for fathers to support fathers.
Sometimes the mentor father is just there to answer a few questions. Sometimes they become good friends. It’s a proven support system for new fathers with special needs kids. If you’re a father looking for support, or if you’re a dad who’d like to offer support, go to 21stcenturydads.org. That’s 21stcenturydads.org.
David Hirsch: Hi, I’m David Hirsch. This is the Special Fathers Network podcast. Stories of fathers helping fathers.
Tom Couch: And I’m Tom Couch. And today we’re saying howdy to Tom Landis of Howdy Homemade ice cream in Dallas, Texas.
David Hirsch: Where does the name, how this conflict?
Tom Landis: It’s just a word that it’s a little goofy.
Tom Couch: But it’s it’s, it’s a friendly It’s so nice to say Howdy, In addition to serving great ice cream Howdy’s is staffed almost exclusively by people with special needs.
Tom Landis: We wanted to create a very good ice cream shop that happens to employ people with special needs, but it’s gotta be good ice cream.
Tom Couch: David and Tom, talk about the business, how it came to be and how it’s helping so many people.
Tom Landis: This is a place where people special needs can work.
Tom Couch: We’ll meet some members of the Howdy Homemade team and maybe have a taste of some Howdy Homemade.
David Hirsch: Here we are at Howdy’s Homemade. And you allowed me to just test some of the flavors.
Tom Couch: It’s the Special Father’s Network podcast.
Tom Landis: Our goal is that our employees would eventually run and own Howdy Homemade restaurants.
Tom Couch: And here’s David Hirsch’s conversation with Tom Landis.
David Hirsch: I’m thrilled to be talking today with Tom Landis at Dallas, Texas. Tom is the founder of Howdy Homemade ice cream and three makers with locations in Dallas and salt Lake city. Tom, thank you for taking the time to do a podcast interview for the Special Fathers Network.
Tom Landis: Thank you.
David Hirsch: You and your wife, Margaret had been married for 16 years and are the proud parents of two children. Kate age 8 and Jake age 10. Let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up? Tell me something about your family.
Tom Landis: And, uh, born in DC and then raised in Bethesda, grew up, uh, kind of typical life. Um, my mom had polio when she was still a child, you know, we took.
Public transportation a lot. She never really drove, but I never heard her complain once. You know, I remember things like a guy trying to grab her purse as she was hopping on the bus and DC and her teachers turn and around and, you know, smack, smacking that guy. Oh my gosh. Just going in and sitting down like, you know, no big deal.
She she’s a hero.
David Hirsch: Strong role model. Yeah. So would you call it a middle class? Upper middle class upbringing?
Tom Landis: I think middle-class, I think it’s funny how very middle class you realize things are
David Hirsch: looking back on it. Yeah. Okay. How would you describe your relationship with your dad?
Tom Landis: You know, I think one of a real respect and, uh, you know, a little bit of fear, uh, but, uh, he definitely has my respect.
David Hirsch: What did your dad do?
Tom Landis: Occupationally. He was a banker.
David Hirsch: Any lessons that you learned? And he said, this is one thing that my dad had there taught me by telling me what to do or more by just the role model that he was.
Tom Landis: Um, you know what, uh, I, I think that, uh, you know, the sacrifice, I remember some different vacations and things where he would drive us five hours down to a little cabin or something, and then he drive five hours back.
And then after a week come back or something. And I know that wasn’t what he wanted to do, but he sacrificed a lot for it.
David Hirsch: Okay. You said us, do you have siblings? Uh, you have a sister. So is your sister older or younger?
Tom Landis: Younger sisters. She’s a hero also. She’s an ER nurse just as a crazy what her. Work emergencies are versus mine.
I spill ice cream. She saves lives.
David Hirsch: Everybody has a different following, Tom. Um, is she local or where is she?
Tom Landis: She’s up in, uh, Maine.
David Hirsch: Where there another father figures growing up in your life?
Tom Landis: You know what? Yeah, I’d say the greatest one. Dr. Haney. Who’s a pastor down in Austin, Texas. Just his authenticity and ability to.
Truly love people without judgment. It’s something I aspire to yet. Don’t seem to quite be able to obtain all the time.
David Hirsch: So how’d you meet him?
Tom Landis: Uh, you know what? He had come into one of my restaurants, honestly, he’d come in so many times he came in one time and said, look, I think I’ve spent 1200 bucks in the last month in your place.
And I said, all right, you’ve come to mind. Oh, I need to go check out your place. What are you doing? I think I may have even. Just put in some colorful language as to what exactly you, and he said, well, I’m a pastor. Oh, well, all right. I’ll check out church. And, uh, and the funny thing was, is I thought, all right, well, I’ll put a suit on and everywhere suit.
So that way I want to stick out. And I go to that church that day. And he and I are the only one in the suit, but, uh, amazing man that, uh, truly, uh, it’s taught me a lot about leadership.
David Hirsch: And you still in contact with him, you know?
Tom Landis: Yeah.
David Hirsch: So what role has spirituality played in your life as a youth and then now as an adult?
Tom Landis: Oh, you know what, uh, I think honestly, uh, everything, uh, you know, everything from, you know, having my last drink, 11 to five Oh six when I gave my, my life to Jesus. When I lean on him and study the Bible, uh, life becomes a lot more clear when I focus on myself, uh, everything gets kinda messed up. So what was
David Hirsch: the turning point?
Tom Landis: Uh, you know what, I think it was, uh, two things. I think it was one a dr. Haney, just taking time to not hit me over the head with the Bible would just understand where I was. And then, uh, also I think, uh, you know, hitting some rock bottoms along the way and getting smacked around and realizing, uh, I’m not as in controls and lose control, it was a loser.
I’m going to make a note of that, because I think that that is a very profound statement. So, uh, as a little further background, um, I recollection from our prior conversations is that you, uh, grew up in Maryland. You went to high school in Bethesda, and you went to a school at university of Texas Austin.
And you took a degree in journalism. So when you were leaving college, what was it you think you’re going to do?
Well, that was a really tough time. Um, I knew that four days after graduating and I was going to have to have my whole back be done, uh, have all the three of my vertebrae are fused together because the scoliosis kind of went from a life of college, which, uh, I wasn’t super focused on the academics, just pure fellowship.
And then to go into a real isolation of recovery from back surgery that took months through that started regain strength and kind of that, that desire of, Hey, I’m going to make something of myself and landed a job in Dallas. And in 92, that was pretty tricky. Got a job in marketing and, uh, worked for somebody else from Mark March 2nd and 92, October 31st.
Great Cynthia far Lee then decided I need to go out on my own and went out on my own. Did real well with the world cup in 94, and then wanting to get into the restaurant business. Just, uh, so in 96 we opened our first one.
David Hirsch: So where did that start? Or how did that start?
Tom Landis: You know what I mean? It started with having some success, uh, some confidence, some money.
And, uh, but also being able to take a risk, right? We’re at we’re at 23, 24 years old, 25. We have no mortgage, no marriage, no kids in a ton of energy. And I think that’s kind of what it, what it took. You know, the ability to work 18 hours a day for a year and a half to the ability to risk it all. And when I risked it all on howdy with a wife and two young kids, it felt very, very different than.
When you were doing it at age 25.
David Hirsch: So tell me something about those businesses. What were they?
Tom Landis: So we’d opened a Tex Adelphia sandwich shops. They were out of Austin. They were kind of one of everybody’s favorite restaurant in Austin back in the day. And we ended up opening seven of those in Dallas. And then we got in the pizza business and open six pizza places and proved, uh, very clearly that a expansion.
Beyond your abilities is not resolved in success.
David Hirsch: So you’re growing fast and then reached a plateau or reached the limits.
Tom Landis: I mean, I think it, it just, you know, uh, all the common mistakes you can make instincts, you want to make mistakes, no one else’s made, but when you make the common ones, it’s frustrating, but, um, stayed in it for about 22 years.
But just in last three weeks, I’ve sold everything to focus a hundred percent. How do you homemade.
David Hirsch: Okay. So, um, I’ve been meaning to ask, where did this idea for how these homemade ice cream come from? Where did the name, how does it come from for that matter?
Tom Landis: Yeah, so, you know, I, I really say the godfather of special needs in Texas is coach gene Stallings, the legendary gene Stallings.
He played football at a and M. He coached at a and M he, uh, coached. And be the legendary Bayer Brian in 68 cotton bowl. He won a national championship at Alabama and the coached under the legendary, uh, Tom Landry, Koshy Stallings. Also, he wrote a book called another season and it was about the birth of his son, Johnny and his son Johnny’s life.
And it just fascinated me. Cause I’d say 35% of that book was they’re concerned that Johnny would never have a job and all that from everything in the book and everything you ever knew about John, he would simply be the greatest in the restaurant. Right. He agreed. Everybody would be friendly. He is the embodiment of hospitality and yet no one would hire him in this finally years of Alabama.
Did you know? And then you start looking at okay. Okay, perhaps kind of similar to you when you look internally as to how do I be a better dad? You look externally too. Okay. What are some of the stats? What is this trend that’s going on? And when you look and see that just, you know, millions of adults with special needs, no one’s going to hire, or those on the autism spectrum that are underemployed or unemployed, it truly is a incredible business opportunity.
And then at the same time, a mission opportunity and an ability to really help people that. Right now, you know, I don’t know. There’s a quote from Dylan said, you know, if I had thought about it, I never would have done it. I guess I should have let it slide. But I was just too stubborn to ever be governed by the forces of insanity.
You all lived a little burned out on their friends. I thought it might be up to me. Wow. I love that. I don’t know why I think of that. And you know that maybe it’s this it’s like sitting around a campfire with. A whole bunch of people with kids with special needs. And everyone’s saying, man, we gotta do something.
You gotta do something. And find that one guy at the campfire stands up and throws his hat in fire, or something says, all right, man, you know what, tomorrow I’m going to risk it all. Let’s do it. You know, what’s truly mortgage the house. The Bible says our houses, but a tent, but everyone tells us the house is this sacred thing.
No, let’s, let’s truly mortgage everything we have and try and open howdy, homemade so that when I can look in gene Stallings eyes or any parent and family special needs, I can look them in the eye with all seriousness and say, guess what I believe in your kid enough to put my money on it. And after two and a half years, we’ve done it.
We’ve proven it, salt lakes proven it. Now we’re going to take it out and show it to the whole world. And I truly think we can revolutionize revolutionize the restaurant industry.
David Hirsch: James darling. Did you ever meet him?
Tom Landis: I’ve met him a couple of times. I’m actually going down June 14th. We’re going to have a Bible study by his son’s grave.
And, um, uh, the guy, yeah, I’ve got a man crush on him.
David Hirsch: Sound like somebody I needed to meet,
Tom Landis: you know what he is? Uh, he’s truly, I mean, uh, I’ve yet to meet someone in Texas with special needs. It hasn’t been impacted by either a personal letter, a phone call, uh, you know, at an event where they’ve they’ve. I mean, it, there aren’t many people like him and, uh, and you know what, it’s fascinating in that book when he was born June 2nd, 1962, they were very honest that he gene Stallings and I love the author, the authenticity and clearance of it, but he wanted a football.
And when they, as a son. Yeah, great. Even the football guy, like we’d be on. And when they brought him out, they brought the kid and the doctor said you have a Mongoloid, which is the scientific term for why died. That was a term back then, stalling, Spain. When he came to me, he said he wanted to, uh, knock the doctor out.
But this is what’s interesting is the doctor said, look, we will take this child and put them in a hospital institution because you’re doing what’s important. You’re coaching football. This isn’t important that God gave you that child that’s my child. But back then, that was not, that was not the norm. I mean, the reality was a lot different lifespan.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, it’s a very powerful, thank you for sharing that. And uh, I hope that, uh, there will be an opportunity to learn a little bit more about the stalling family experience and if it’s meant to be God willing, I have a chance to meet him as well. So back to how it is, where does the name, how does come from?
Tom Landis: So, um, it’s attributed to Stallings and his Alma mater, um, where everyone says, howdy, there’s a whole, how do you leave the first week of the school? It’s just a word that truly, like, it’s a hard time to say the word with in, with a frown on your face. Right? It’s a little goofy, but it’s, it’s, it’s a friendly word.
And I think. In this day and age and the tension in the United States, we could use a little pounding.
David Hirsch: I love it. So what are some of the bigger challenges that you’ve encountered, um, building this business? So it’s what two, three years old now.
Tom Landis: Yeah. You know what, up until a couple of weeks ago and just being ridiculously, under-capitalized basically, you know, you come to learn that, you know, you don’t really have to pay bills until they turn pink.
They started calling or whatever. Um, and, uh, but that we truly pushed it to the edge of, of, of all the cards collapsing and, and, and I, I wish we hadn’t done that, but it’s the way it went. Um, and, um, you know, and then also I think the challenge is also, uh, some of the naiveness that I’ve come in with. And I think in some of it, you know, you just gotta go and do it and you know, you’re going to make mistakes, but, um, Uh, I think, I think the biggest mistake thinking is that people with, with differences or people with special needs don’t have issues or emotions or problems, and I’ve got more of them than anybody.
But if we wanted to create a very good ice cream shop, that happens to employ people with special needs, but it’s gotta be good ice cream. It’s gotta be better. Everything you’ve gotta be cleaner, everything. And that our ice cream is really have a strong quality. I think that’s been a little bit of a challenge when people are kind of thinking that we’re going to give them vanilla or soft serve or something.
And, um, uh, I think we have something that, uh, once they do try it, they’re there
they’re convenient. That’s awesome. So the business has been around for a couple, three years. Uh, what was your vision when you first
created this? You know what it is very much it’s Hey, I, it, this will either be a home run or it will be shut down.
They want it, we won’t make it. You know, the idea a couple of years ago, talking to people, Hey, I want to open the restaurant. Okay. That’s risky. Yeah, no bank wants it. Okay. But I only want to hire people with special needs. Like. If we’re honest, right? The number of people that, if it was a one-on-one, they might laugh or hit me in the shoulder and be like, Oh, that’s funny or something.
Right. And then when they realize there’s not a smile on my face, you know, that odd, awkward, trying to backtracking or whatever. But when beautiful family really stepped up and lend me 25,000 and another bank guy, it was a bank. Loaned us 25, but it’s funny then, cause that same bank, which has been phenomenal, came back and used us in a giant ad campaign.
And then honestly, I think some of the challenges of both the parents and some of the special needs community themselves of, Hey, we can do this. Like it, because they were very protective as I would be with my own kids. And they’re not there. They don’t have special needs. Right. You know, to give them that dignity to fail, you know, to, to, to push their limits, to, to, to push a, uh, an employee who can drive to say, Hey, I need you to go to a home Depot and get me a screwdriver, and I’ll pay you on the clock to go do it.
Plus double what the screwdriver costs and him said, no, my mom wouldn’t let me drive except for this normal route. And then to talk to the mom and say, Hey, I’m not doing this because it’s saving me time, believing me. If it’s not saving me time, I’m doing it. Cause I want to expand his limits, pushes limits.
Oh, okay. Okay. And you know, next day he shows up just as proud as a peacock. Cause he’s got something that he’s done and I’m sure stressed him out to do, but stretched his
David Hirsch: limits. That’s awesome. So how many employees do you have?
Tom Landis: A 16.
David Hirsch: And how many of them? Most persons
Tom Landis: 14.
David Hirsch: So there’s two typical employees and 14 with special abilities.
How’d you come to that ratio?
Tom Landis: We’ve got a pretty efficient labor schedule now, but at the start we kind of said, all right, we’re going to take whoever God brings in our doors. We want to work with them and give them a chance and some are going to succeed. And some aren’t some just aren’t maybe made for it.
What’s amazing is almost all. Do and love it and don’t want to handle it their shift, but you know, it works out, you know, how many do we need here during the day to make ice cream at night when it gets busy on weekends. But then also on top of that, we have different like private schools for those with special needs that will bring in their kids a couple of times a week, a group, and they’ll do different areas of training or cleaning and things like that.
It’s what I love about coach Stallings in coach bear. Brian is studying them is they worked hard. And, uh, one of my employees, brothers said it the best cause I asked him, am I too tough on my guys? Cause I, you know, Hey, clean, clean, the trash can clean the toilet clean stuff. Cause that’s where they’re going to be starting other places.
And I want them to grow here so they can lead forward at other places, but ask them my too tough on my employees. And he said, you, you can never be as tough on your employees as the world will be on. It’s
David Hirsch: a great revelation. So do you see this as more of a stepping stone? Somebody gets a job at Audi’s.
They work here for six months or a year or whatever period of time, and they’re better prepared to. Get a different type of job or another job.
Tom Landis: Yeah. Although I think in, in perhaps a more capitalistic fashion is that our goal is that our employees would eventually run and own howdy homemade restaurants and that, that, that they would stay within the system and we would grow and we’ve got just, I don’t know, 70, 75 people that are ready to franchise.
We’ve got. Um, you know, all sorts of people that want distribution one on product, a we’ve got the state fair coming up. We’ve got, we, we are ready to grow. And arguably it’s, it’s the biggest problem and impediment to our growth right now is me and level of, I think, experience that we need in different areas.
Operations franchising is not my area.
David Hirsch: So what’s your hope provision for how does five, 10, 20 years from
Tom Landis: now? This is, would be our goal is that we would be in all 160 countries that hosts the special Olympics that we would be in China, where the rate of autism in America is now an astounding one in 67 in China.
It’s even bigger. The, uh, all around the country that, you know, there’s this exploding growth of autism. We would be just a beacon of hope for people that, Hey, this is a place. Where people special needs can work. Well,
David Hirsch: these are real jobs, real wages and real accountability. It’s not, you know what I think of as a bagger job with all due respect, the bagger job at the local food store.
So I remember you telling me in a previous conversation that, uh, your second location, one in salt Lake city has gotten a lot of notoriety. What was that about?
Tom Landis: You know, that they’ve just really been fantastic, great family. And I think it all goes back to this. It would be offensive for me to think that my passion, uh, enthusiasm will ever match that of the families that have a child with special needs, but, but then also use, they know so many people for work, uh, for employees, for, you know, they’re on a mission.
And I think what they’ve seen too is because like you said, is their son, Jack has just seen tremendous difference. University of Utah’s business school, named them one of the best new businesses, uh, 2018 last Thursday. And then on that same day and evening vote, voted best ice cream and all of Utah, which is, I think just fascinating.
Cause it’s not best ice cream amongst special needs. Some special. I think this is, Hey, put us in that beautiful color and let gimme employees that I want, which are those with autism, those with down syndrome. And we went, yeah,
David Hirsch: that’s awesome. So how did the Utah location, not salt Lake city location from about
Tom Landis: well HTA, more and more, um, you know, through social media, it’s just that, Hey, someone with a special needs child and Dallas as a relative.
As someone in salt Lake, and that’s how we’re starting to get the inquiries coming in from all around the country, uh, for that. And they, they flew down one weekend, I think, and talk, they flew down another week and trained and again, everything operation cheap kitchen, if you want it later. Um, but it’s, it’s, it’s very simple,
David Hirsch: not rocket science.
It’s not open heart surgery. Right. So. What’s the family’s name in salt Lake.
Tom Landis: So the Neil Neil’s and family.
David Hirsch: So the Nielsen’s the parents have a son named Jack and they were the ones that were inspired by what’s going on here in Dallas so much so that they came in, visited a couple times site visit chaining said, okay, we’ve got enough.
Let’s see if we can replicate this. So when did that start? When did the salt Lake open
Tom Landis: labor day. So, I mean, they’re brand new. They haven’t even had their first summer. Um, and it’s kind of those things where I love it. And business that, you know, your business plan is steps one, two, three, and four. And we start like at four, five.
And, um, I mean, basically they called up and they said, well, we had a good conversation. We’ve signed a lease. We’re going to open labor day. And this was in like, may. Nobody opens a restaurant on time. Like we even got wristbands that say opening labor day weekend, that that’ll really help. Um, but they’re way more advanced in business than I am.
They opened labor day. I couldn’t be more proud of them. And, um, uh, and, and, you know, just the lives they’re changing of there is just it’s cool.
David Hirsch: So I remember you telling me a story on, we talked last about a baseball Benjamin, what was that about?
Tom Landis: Yeah, so, I mean, again, our employees, some of them are just super talented and it’s just phenomenal to see it, uh, his ability to understand, uh, and then contextualizing and then communicate.
Um, uh, sports specifically baseball stats are just phenomenal. Uh, we see every Friday and Saturday night when he works here and the customers come in, I mean, there are dumbfounded. The Rangers record is up to this point 10 and 17. They’re 22nd in major league baseball and earned run average at 4.65 29th and batting average against at two 75 and they fill out the load.
Yeah, sure. Wonder. I think Carrie Carrie had a unique voice. Bob Dylan had a unique voice. Benjamin has a very distinct voice, very recognizable on the autism spectrum, but I absolutely believe he’ll be major league baseball’s first announced on the autism spectrum. And when he does it, it just will electrify a fan base either.
Maybe it’s partially exists, but there’s a premonition that that will happen.
David Hirsch: So Benjamin is just one of your. Four 10 employees.
Tom Landis: Yeah. And just also a guy that came in that that truly in many ways was not ready to work. Right. Wouldn’t make much eye contact. I mean, just see how much he’s come along is for the greatest thing.
Um, there’s times when we do these one minute videos of him recording his statistical knowledge of an upcoming game or something and, um, We’ll catch him laughing or something and all things that all stop on them. Dude. Where did your autism go? I don’t see it. The Rangers off fence, hasn’t totally been able to make up for it.
They’ve scored 100 runs and had 26 home runs, but they only have the two 34 banning outwards, but there’s also, you know, the beautiful moments of, you know, everything being so literal and his mom coming in and sister coming in one afternoon and he’s in the kitchen. I’ll go in the kitchen and get them say, Hey, there’s, there’s some customers causing a real problem in the dining room.
He’ll come out and look his mom right in the eye and say, why are you causing so much trouble
David Hirsch: with a serious face?
Tom Landis: But you know what? You take the other side of that too. And man, whose focus is work ethic. I mean, it is absolutely phenomenal. Now the first time he closed up. He closes up the shop. He calls up, you know, about 15 minutes afterwards.
Mr. Landis, we have problem. Money’s missing. Tell me about it. I’ve counted. I’ve recounted. I’ve counted several times. I’ve checked everywhere. We’re off by two centers. This is a cash industry where so much stuff walks off. You know, it’s just not in their DNA to try and steal and as a blanket statement, but from my employees is just intense sense of, of honesty or of, you know, and sometimes it’s, it’s honesty on a boy, mr.
Landis, you know, today’s show was slow. No one came in. I don’t think you’re going to stay in business. Well, it’s 12 and we opened in a half an hour or so. Hmm.
David Hirsch: Yeah. You don’t want to take things literally. Oh, that’s wonderful. Um, are there any other employees that come to mind, a special story? Um, maybe a parent’s perspective, um, what this means,
Tom Landis: uh,
David Hirsch: to their son or daughter.
Tom Landis: Do you know what I mean? Truly every single employee that we have had is amazing and, and their parents too. And I would say this because I’ve never seen a greater sense of hope that among those parents with special needs, really perhaps at the top of that mountain is a guy named bill Alpers that I’ve gotten to know.
And I, uh, I received, uh, Ryan Alpers lifetime achievement award. Ryan Alvarez was a great kid, not a junior, a young life, a ski trip in Colorado. He hit a tree. It’s basically been in a comatose state for 12 years. And for 12 years, his dad has, uh, had three people watching him 24 seven. And for 12 years, I’ve watched as his dad has tried to do one thing and that’s communicate to his son that he loves.
And I think for 12 years, he’s tried to figure out every single way through every medical. Way possible all around the world when the rest of the world has given up to just get some sort of way to maybe find out from his son that his son, son, and, and his mom to his last year, I was talking to his mom and I mentioned something about Ryan and the next year, what are you thinking about for next year?
And she said, you know, next year is the year. And, and in my mind, I’m kind of wondering, what does that mean? Is that. Is that, is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing? Is that, is that the end? I don’t know. My mind was almost not being positive and she said, Oh, see, here he is going to speak. And man, it, when you meet people that have a level or a sense of hope, that is so foreign to you, it reinvigorates you and makes you just know what are the one by favorite quotes is that a man can live.
Without food for about 48 days without water for about three days without air for eight minutes without hope for about one second. And I thought that’s pretty good.
David Hirsch: Yeah. That’s very powerful.
Tom Landis: I am coming down. I am Tom howdy. Homemade. My favorite thing to do here is to share the ice cream and a hot your customers. First of all, how these homemade ice cream made on premises every day. Purest ingredients. We could find dr. Pepper, chocolate chips, our signature flavor, and hope to have in grocery stores all across the nation.
If this doesn’t take you back to this hot summer night swimming pool, riding your bike at eight years old and nothing. Thanks for stopping by howdy homemade. We have a relentless pursuit to create jobs for everyone. One stupid time. There are homemade ice.
David Hirsch: So here we are at holidays homemade, and you allow me to taste, test some of the flavors.
And the one that caught my attention from a distance is the dr. Pepper, chocolate chip ice cream. How did that relationship start?
Tom Landis: We really had fun creating that. And he was in fact, one of the creations when early on, I would take ice cream to different group homes. For those with special needs, just to have them sample it, I would ask them what would be their flavors and everything would be thrown out from gummy bears to bananas, to avocados, to someone said dr.
Pepper and someone said ice cream, you said, Hey, let’s give that a try. Once we created it, I knew. And I wanted to, and the first thing I did. Really was turned the, the recipe over to them. Because for me, it’s not about the money. It’s about, Hey, can we do something that will launch a product? Like no launch it’s ever been proven to provide them with an army of supporters, no products ever seen before and use it to truly change lives.
You know, that’s what it’s about. And if I can be a part of it, cool. If they want to take it, run it and they can do it. More and more power to them. I think what they’ve seen is that at first is, Hey, this is very, this is a very fascinating use of our core product. This is a great new, different path. Dr.
Pepper is there with like a mint chocolate chip. If there’s there’s something there that is bigger than Texas.
David Hirsch: That’s awesome. So we’ve actually had some interaction with the people from dr. Pepper.
Tom Landis: Oh, a lot. We have an exclusive agreement to, to make their ice cream now. And I mean, I think about that. Like, I like to stick it to demand.
I’m not a big fan of big companies. I don’t know why that’s not, that’s not fair. It’s unjust yet. Uh, dr. Pepper has been just. Without a doubt, a phenomenal company, every single person I’ve worked with, they’re just phenomenal of their support of how do they pay for most of the equipment here. Um, we’re going to see later the summer billboards bus routes.
I think they’re starting to see that this has been a two and a half year focus group, 80% of the people by vanilla chocolate strawberry here it’s like 66% are choosing the dr. Pepper. That’s astounding numbers and says there’s something. There are people that are saying, I don’t drink soda anymore, but I love ice cream.
There’s something there. Um, I truly see our ice cream eventually being in, you know, at a minimum 2000 to 38,000 retail outlets that dr. Pepper’s currently
David Hirsch: that’s awesome. Well, as somebody who loves dr. Pepper, um, I’m hoping that, uh, this is a catalyst for great things to come. So. From an advice standpoint, what are some of the more important takeaways that come to mind when hiring those with differences?
What advice can you offer?
Tom Landis: Yeah. You know what, I, I love that question because I feel sometimes like, it’s worthless. If I go give a speech to a group and nobody asks that question for nobody says, Hey, how could I hire someone? Because if we’re honest, most people’s first responses. I don’t have a spot for them in my business.
And so my question to those who are in a leadership role, who have a position of power who do hire is ask your employees, what is the thing that they like least about their job and the common denominator to the answer will be repetition. And it’s usually repetition along the most menial part of that professional’s job.
And so now if that’s something, what if you say, okay, that’s the menial part, you hate doing it, but it’s, you got to do it. How do we get in someone with special needs to do that? You’re saving your business money. You’re making the life of your work or your employee happier because they’re not having to do the menial stuff.
And I think Walgreens has benefited perhaps more than any other company with that.
David Hirsch: Absolutely. So for other employers who might be considering her and those with differences. What about us,
Tom Landis: you know, to, to, to, to do it, to not be afraid to, you know, interview people and say, Oh, this one just doesn’t feel right.
Malcolm Gladwell in blink says that the first 10 seconds is determined to hired. And I think that’s why people perhaps on the autism spectrum don’t get hired as they’re not making eye contact and smiling in that first 10 seconds. The interview process is going to be. For us. Right. But as been proven over and over again, the best interviewees are obviously the worst often the worst workers, right.
They’re just slick. They’ve gone through the process a lot of times. You don’t want a guy that’s coming through the process. A lot of times I had a, uh, uh, an employee potential employee. He showed up in a picket shoe outfit and I loved it. I kind of thought, man, that might be be perfect. And the questions that the parents might be, they’re all the things that you truly would turn around and tell an HR person, or they brought their parents, duh, duh, whatever.
And you went, another one is, I would say is sometimes, and it’s interesting, but. You can interview the parents and you’ll know what you’re getting. And then another one, and this one is a little, it’s really deep in my heart. I haven’t executed and I wanted it, but his, I want the dads, not the moms. I want the dads working in here.
I don’t care how rich successful you are or whatever, but you know, what if you’re kind of there on the sideline and most of your kid’s football games for your neuro-typical kid. Man to be in here, show him that this is the coolest, greatest thing in the world because you know what I mean? All those kids playing football in high school, none of we’re going to make a living off of it.
Hey, let’s start now really only dance. This is your future. And it’s not sitting here, but like for some of these guys, I think you can truly own this. People walk the money to the bank across the street. You can order the food. But it’s going to take the parents’ involvement and it’s going to take a village to get it going.
And that’s one of the key things.
David Hirsch: That’s awesome. So speaking of parents, what advice can you share with dads or parents for that matter about helping a child with disabilities reach their full potential or be prepared to come to work at holidays or someplace else?
Tom Landis: I think I’m. No, in some ways I am hesitant to answer it because I think that they already know way more than me, but maybe just as an outsider, um, is that man, you know, no excuses, tough love and, and that, uh, because also as they hear here, I think that, you know, there just is an environment of, of, of love and of also the, a we see Baker things.
It’s so fun when you give him the key. You gave him a key it’s bigger than when you give him your first paycheck. When you give them your first paycheck, they’re there on the moon. But that key just it. And I’ll tell you another one that just is phenomenal is when you tell some of these guys and they might be in their twenties, thirties, Hey, I need you.
Hey, guess what? Tomorrow someone’s called in sick. I need you at first. A lot of times they do not know how to respond to that. Because they’ve truly never really been in a position where they’ve needed. Like there’s a fire and I believe in you, so you go put it out and then, well, I can’t do that. I don’t know.
That’s not on my schedule and making space. And a lot of times I’m talking to parents beforehand, you know,
David Hirsch: cause
Tom Landis: they’re smart enough. Sometimes my parents will let me or whatever. Well, no, we kind of check that box off. But man, when they come in and then at the end of that shift, the last customer and say, how you doing?
And they’ll say, you know, today I was gonna stay home my day off, but I had to come in for work. I was needed. And I mean, the buttons are popping off their shirt cried, right? Because there’s a huge difference between being wanted, which is beautiful and abs and, but being neat, right.
David Hirsch: That’s a great differentiator, um, wanted versus data.
I love it. Um, so why is it that you’ve agreed to be part of the special fathers network?
Tom Landis: The first soccer team I ever coached my son on it was my son and 10 employees attend, uh, kids who were employees, kids from one of my restaurants, because I knew that most of their dads were working either two or three jobs.
Or maybe we’re in another country in Mexico or maybe in a prison in Mexico, they didn’t have a father figure. And I wanted to provide a little bit of that.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, that’s wonderful. So if somebody wants information on how you spell homemade or wants to contact you, what would you suggest saving lots of money now?
Tom Landis: You know what our website. Um, although, uh, I guess, yeah, the website has some contact information, really Tom, and howdyhomemade.com. Um, and then our, our, our Facebook page is much more, uh, active and, um, love to hear from people. So it’s, uh, www.howdyhomemade.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Hirsch: Okay. Tom, thank you for taking the time and many insights.
As a reminder, Tom is just one of the dads who agreed to support the Special Fathers Network and mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. If you’d like to be a mentor father or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation to your own. Please go to 21stcenturydads.org.
Thanks again, Tom.
Tom Landis: Thank you.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers n]Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers, raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process. New fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for fathers to support fathers.
Sometimes the mentor father is just there to answer a few questions. Sometimes they become good friends. It’s a proven support system for new fathers with special needs kids. If you’re a father looking for support, or if you’re a dad who’d like to offer support, go to 21stcenturydads.org. That’s 21stcentury dads.org.
David Hirsch: And thank you for listening to this Special Father’s Network podcast. Stories of fathers helping fathers.
Tom Couch: The special fathers network podcast was produced for 21st Century Dads by Couch Audio, and again, to find out more about the Special Fathers Network, go to 21stcenturydads.org, 21stcenturydads.org.