Success Story: People Make the Company!

When Lise Bryar, Job Developer with Vanier Community Service Centre, arranged a “sit down and chat” for jobseeker Shawn with business owner Lloyd MacDonald of CRS Commercial Restaurant Solutions Ottawa, none of them expected Lloyd would offer Shawn an opportunity to try the dispatcher role. After all, Lloyd was currently doing that job himself. And as someone who lives with social anxiety, Shawn admitted, “I am so used to not succeeding in jobs, I was kind of hesitant”.

When his employment counselor wanted Shawn to focus on career exploration as a first step, Job Developer Lise Bryar became involved. With no expectations Lise approached Lloyd: she hoped this meeting would give Shawn a chance to speak with an employer whom she already knew was open to hiring those who live with mental health and other challenges.

Lloyd believes many employers take a ‘cookie cutter’ approach to hiring, undervaluing anyone perceived to be different. Lloyd doesn’t see disabilities, he sees each person’s abilities, and how these could enable them to do the job he needs to fill. Lloyd strives for an inclusive environment where employees can bring their whole selves to work and mutually support each other. In his words: “If somebody has to sit at a desk, would it matter if they are in a wheelchair?” This inclusive approach has been recognized: proud to have won the Employment Equity Award in 2018 at the Employment Ontario Ottawa Network Awards, CRS Commercial Restaurant Solutions Ottawa was a Gold Sponsor for the awards in 2019.

CRS specializes in equipment installation and repair for HVAC, gas, plumbing and refrigeration for the restaurant, bar and hospitality sector. Begun with 2 clients, four years later it has grown to over 1500 clients, simply by word of mouth. Lloyd’s takes on this success: “The company is tops in the industry, we lead in all categories, but we do that because of the people not because of the company”.

Lloyd met with Lise and Shawn, so busy he was performing the dispatcher role at the same time. Shawn got interested in what Lloyd was doing and started asking questions. This turn in the conversation allowed Lloyd to notice that Shawn is a linear and methodical thinker, a definite asset for a dispatcher. Lloyd realized he might have found the right person for this often-difficult role and he decided to give Shawn a try. Four months on, Shawn says: “I am still learning; I got the hang of it and it was sweet sailing from there. I have taken on more responsibilities. It has been very successful.”

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing. As a job developer, Lise works to meet employer and employee needs, to understand both perspectives. When Shawn encounters a roadblock, his anxiety kicks in and he assumes he is performing poorly. So, when he tells Lise he isn’t doing well, Lloyd usually has a different view. From Lloyd’s perspective a roadblock provides opportunity to recognize a problem, find an effective solution, and encourage Shawn to have more confidence in himself.  In other words, he sees Shawn as contributing to the company by identifying problems that need to be solved.  Lloyd concluded: “I don’t know how I manage without him these days … Everything that I do I do easier and more efficiently through him and it is such an advantage having him here.”

Many thanks are extended to Lloyd MacDonald and Shawn from CRS Commercial Restaurant Solutions Ottawa for giving their time to participate in this interview, and a special thank you to Lise Bryar, Job Developer with the Vanier Community Service Centre, for facilitating our conversation.

CRS Commercial Restaurant Solutions Ottawa is the premier service provider for the Restaurant, Bar and Hospitality Industry. The company delivers unparalleled customer service from highly skilled technicians who approach all challenges with professionalism and integrity. To find out more:

The Vanier Community Service Centre (VCSC) is a francophone organization offering a range of services in French and English to improve the quality of life for citizens of Ottawa-Vanier and surroundings. Their services include helping people with disabilities find employment. VCSC is a member of the EARN Leadership Group. To find out more:

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