A Dallas businessman has started his own ice cream franchise to give meaningful employment opportunities to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Tom Landis created the Howdy Homemade Ice Cream located in Salt Lake City, and out of its 16 staff members, 14 have special needs.
Landis, 48, also operates a chain of Texadelphia cheesesteak sandwich shops, but decided to open an ice cream parlor in Dallas two years ago. He always had the idea to staff an entire establishment with employees with disabilities because his mother had suffered from polio.
Through his previous experience in the restaurant industry, he also knew special needs are hardworking and reliable people.
"I've seen them succeed beyond what people expected they’d be able to," Landis told PEOPLE. "and probably the best thing is that a job other people might not consider important is a life-changer for them."
"If nobody will hire you and you have nothing to do all day, then you end up watching TV all the time," he added. "and that's a shame. We need to get over some of these social stigmas about people with special needs. They have more to offer than people realize."