If you’ve haven’t already had the pleasure – meet valued Mitre 10 employee James White.
The 26-year-old Nuriootpa man, who lives with Down Syndrome, is much more than a supported employee of the Barossa hardware site – he’s part of the team.
Mr White is assisted by Advanced Personnel Management Employment Services, a provider of job seeker programs, disability services and workplace health and home assessments, with an office located at Murray Street, Nuriootpa.
In February, he and the team celebrated his two-year anniversary with the company marking the occasion with a chocolate mud cake.
“I love it here because I love the people (including customers) and the work,” Mr White said.
The connection between APM and Mitre 10 evolved after Mr White moved from Waikerie to Nuriootpa about five years ago.
Having previously worked in a friend of the family’s hardware store in the Riverland, Mr White was keen to pursue similar work.
Two years ago, he and his parents met with APM in support of Mr White’s desire to live a financially independent life.
The link has meant Mr White’s confidence has grown, especially as he interacts with the customers.
As a result of his improved self-esteem, he is now an ambassador for Down Syndrome SA.
Mr White’s involvement means opening events, speaking with service groups and promoting the abilities and actions of people with Down Syndrome.
Working eight hours across two days, his role includes product stacking and forward facing, assisting the garden crew with watering especially during hot spells, replacing price tags and he is the friendly face which greets customers through the doors.
He also enjoys ‘car service’ which sees him happily chat with customers as he places items in their vehicles and the fact it’s given him “good arm muscles”.
However, Mr White’s favourite spot in Mitre 10 is the barbecue section.
He is known as the ‘barbecue man’ by APM employment consultant Shona Sieboth, who regularly assists him.
“I love barbecues – a good sausage or steak,” he said.
It’s a weekly ritual he maintains with one of his good mates at home.
Ms Sieboth said her role supported Mr White to use his initiative to look for items, especially when customers request help.
“I basically help him read barcodes and help point him in the right direction,” she said.
In addition, Mr White is also among the team currently enrolled in online training.
He is supported by APM to complete the modules, which will further strengthen his role in the workplace.
Ms Sieboth and Mr White said the position was made possible thanks to The Co-op’s Paul Amos and APM’s business manager Leeanne Charlson.
Having previously performed work experience at Foodland, Mr White said he much prefers to work with hardware.