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SEARCHing for the Right Employee-Partners

Cintas is committed to ensuring disability inclusion, and its partnership with Project SEARCH is a key component in achieving this goal.

SEARCHing for the Right Employee-Partners

Cintas is committed to ensuring disability inclusion, and its partnership with Project SEARCH is a key component in achieving this goal.

Published 01-15-24

Submitted by Cintas

Cintas employee standing in foreground of factory

Diverse life experiences and unique perspectives collectively shape our identity at Cintas. Part of that identity includes creating a work environment that is inclusive and accessible to individuals with disabilities. 

A shining example of this can be found at Cintas’ Rental location in Little Rock, Arkansas. For the past eight years, this location has partnered with a local program called Project SEARCH, an innovative job-training initiative for young adults with developmental disabilities. 

“I remembered first hearing about Project SEARCH during a meeting, and I was very interested in this program they were developing,” said Tanner Chapman, Senior Human Resources Manager at Cintas. “After learning more about them and their goals, we thought this could be a perfect opportunity to find future employee-partners who would be perfect at Cintas.”

The program, which is supported by Arkansas Rehabilitation Services (ARS), helps its clients complete three internships at local businesses with the goal of learning and gaining new skills for future employment. Once they complete the program, Project SEARCH helps them find employment with businesses in the community like Cintas. 

“The benefit of Project SEARCH is being able to have staff and education available to help our clients advocate for themselves,” said Emily Speer, Job Developer with Project SEARCH. “Having someone there to support them helps boost their morale and leads to someone who wants to come to work and be there every day.” 

The Little Rock location has had tremendous success with Project SEARCH, as their location has had zero turnover among Project SEARCH hires over the past five years. 

“Our relationship with Project SEARCH has been fantastic,” said Mathew Hoppis, General Manager of Cintas’ Little Rock Rental location. “It’s a true partnership that has allowed our location to benefit from great hiring results, but the best part is seeing these employee-partners maximize their full potential and be successful.”

Clara Taylor, a Business Engagement Representative for ARS, notes that working with Cintas has been tremendous because of the available resources Cintas has for its employee-partners and the ability to be open-minded. 

“It’s been one of the best partnerships I’ve had with any of the businesses we work with,” said Taylor. “Cintas has been open, present and constantly communicating back and forth on information they’d like to learn.” 

But at the heart of this relationship are the talented employee-partners from Project SEARCH who come to work at Cintas. These employee-partners help contribute to Cintas’ success by being put in positions that play towards their strengths so they can excel, be empowered and maximize their full potential. 

One of the ways Cintas does this is by accommodating employee-partners and their needs to make sure they are put in the best position to succeed.  

Leyla B., a deaf partner who is a Folder at Cintas, says one of the things she loves about this company is its willingness to accommodate and work with her on her school schedule. 

“At first, I was working full-time and was also a full-time student, but I felt overwhelmed and stressed,” said Leyla. “I asked my boss about transferring to part-time hours and they were willing to find a way to make that work. Now, I don’t feel overwhelmed and stressed and I can still work at Cintas while pursuing an education.”

Another example is Marshall N. who is a Line Leader at the Towel Table. Marshall has a herniated disk that makes it difficult to work in certain positions. He was able to work through an accommodation process that allowed him to find a position that was safe for his back and allowed him to maximize his talents. 

“The accommodation process was super helpful,” said Marshall. “I like the people that I’m around and the environment, so I’m glad they were willing to help me with this.”

Employee-partners hired from Project SEARCH also mentioned how working for Cintas has helped them feel empowered and gain a sense of independence. 

For Spencer C., a Loader at Cintas, developing this independence has helped him make improvements in his life, including supporting his parents in making an upgrade in their home.  

“Working at Cintas has helped me make more improvements in my life, as far as developing myself and just trying to always look for ways to improve,” said Spencer. “Because of this job, I was able to help my parents pay for a new washer and dryer.”

Carson P., a Garment Sorter at Cintas, says it’s about being trusted to do his job responsibilities and empowering him outside of work. 

“I’ve felt more independent because I am trusted to do my job at Cintas,” said Carson. “It’s helped me feel empowered here and outside of work.” 

For these reasons, many of the employee-partners hope that they can inspire people who are a part of Project SEARCH to come join them and experience the spirit of Cintas.  

“What I like about Cintas is the love that goes around the building, the teamwork and the respect everyone has for one another,” said Paris R., a loader at Cintas. “No matter what problems may occur, we always find a way through it.”

“I hope to inspire other people from Project SEARCH to come here,” said Gerald T., a Garment Sorter at Cintas. “Working at Cintas has made me feel more social.”

This partnership in Little Rock serves as a great example of the impact that can be made in the communities Cintas serves and the opportunities it presents. 

“My hope is we continue to expand this relationship not just in Little Rock, but across all of our Cintas locations,” said Hoppis. “It’s a great opportunity for us to engage with these organizations and identify employee-partners who can be successful at Cintas.”

Identifying these employee-partners and embracing their talents helps Cintas diversify its perspectives, create a stronger culture and mirror the communities it serves. 

“We look at disabilities not as a defining characteristic but as a source of strength and diversity,” said Hoppis. “As we continue to view it from this perspective, we are accomplishing our principal objective. When we can find collaborative engagement and long-term retention of our employee-partners, we see these partners be extremely successful and that's what it's all about.”

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Cintas Corporation helps more than one million businesses of all types and sizes get Ready™ to open their doors with confidence every day by providing products and services that help keep their customers’ facilities and employees clean, safe, and looking their best. With offerings including uniforms, mats, mops, restroom supplies, first aid and safety products, safety training, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems and alarm service, Cintas helps customers get Ready for the Workday®. The company is also the creator of the Total Clean Program™ — a first-of-its-kind service that includes scheduled delivery of essential cleaning supplies, hygienically clean laundering, and sanitizing and disinfecting products and services. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Cintas is a publicly held Fortune 500 company traded over the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol CTAS and is a component of both the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Nasdaq-100 Index.

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