Success Stories

Ian at work

Ian Jones is an outdoor enthusiast who has found a perfect job match at Bend-based Ruffwear.

Ruffwear is a local company which sells and distributes performance outdoor gear for dogs. Ian works 20 hours per week in the warehouse pulling orders that come in and packaging them to ship out around the world.

Ian, 31, started at Ruffwear in June 2014. His successful job match was in part due to going through Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) process with Cortney Gibson, a Vocational Rehabilitation counselor who specializes in working with clients who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Ian's past work experience included multiple community jobs, including a trucking company. He was looking for more hours, and a work environment that better fit his interests and skills. Ian, who experiences an intellectual disability, said when he met with Cortney, he told her about his passion for the outdoors, and about his two black Labrador dogs, Maggie and Lucy.

"I'm a dog guy, so I told her about that," he said. "I feel like this is a really good fit for me."

Jodie Burns is a job developer and job coach with Bend-based Abilitree. She did Ian's initial job coaching and set up Ian's "working interview" at Ruffwear. A working interview is where the potential employee works at the site for a few hours to see if the job is a good fit for both them and the employer.

"Ian just fits right in here," Jodie said. "He is a valued employee and he seems to genuinely enjoy the laidback atmosphere here."

Ian's duties include stocking products, labeling, hanging returns up, and scanning and preparing online orders for shipping. He is working up to eventually being able to operate the forklift.

"I like it here a lot," he said. "The people are super nice. And I can reach the tallest shelves that others can't."

Jesse Hill is the warehouse manager at Ruffwear. Like Ian (and most of the Ruffwear employees), he loves dogs and the outdoors. He said Ian has only missed one day (due to a surgery) since he started a year ago.

"He brings a good attitude," Jesse said. "He is willing to do anything I throw at him. He fits in well with the crew here. They rib each other, and Ian throws it right back at them."

Jesse has advice for any employer considering hiring someone with a disability.

"For employers who are considering hiring someone with special needs, I would say, you need to meet them halfway," he said. "You need to be understanding and work with them, but you also need to make sure every single employee earns their keep."

In the case of Ian, Jesse said he has found a great employee.

"Regardless of whether someone has a disability or not, I've found there are people who want to work hard and there are others who don't," Jesse said. "Ian is a valuable part of the crew here."

Ian's personal agent is Mary McClure at Full Access. He has ongoing job coaching supports from Abilitree.

View a slideshow of Ian at work.​​