Coaching That Changes the Game and Improves Lives

Dec 20, 2021 1:05 PM ET


Chris never thought his love of sports would one day translate to his job as a sales manager. While coaching young kids in various sports, he performed the basic job duties of teaching skills, running drills and getting his young players prepared for the game. But anyone he has coached knows that he was doing a lot more than that.

From field to store

Chris joined ScottsMiracle-Gro as a merchandiser in the spring of 2016 and is now in his third season as a sales manager. Two of his team members, Jessie and Elliott, are part of a program called Ken’s Krew. It’s an organization created in 1997 by parents who were seeking a post-high school path to employment for their kids with developmental disabilities. 

Candidates apply to the program and are placed with a corporate partner after an assessment phase that ensures the program is a good fit. The approach to working with our Ken’s Krew associates focuses on the structure and routines of their day-to-day work. This has been done in order to create the perfect environment to help them thrive personally and professionally.

The ultimate reward

Working with VP of Field Sales Stephen, Regional Sales Director Brendan and District Market Manager Joe, Chris has provided hands-on training for Jessie and Elliott. He showed them in-store execution, from packing out products to safety awareness while they work in the store. He also prepared them with product knowledge training so that they can answer any questions that consumers have to improve their lawn or garden.

The veteran team of Territory 56 has helped speed up the learning process. Chris says, “I’ve gotten to know Jessie and Elliott very well since we work together on a weekly basis. They both were very shy when they first started. They even lived in the same apartment complex and didn’t know each other. Now, they’re hanging out together on the weekends, and I’ve seen such a big confidence boost. It’s so rewarding to see.

Teamwork always translates

In regards to being a coach, Chris says that he does use a lot of sports analogies and bases many aspects of the job around a sports theme because it’s easy to relate to. “I guess being a coach has helped me as I’ve grown my career,” he says. This is most definitely true.

In October as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), our company was recognized by the New York State Department of Education for our inclusive hiring practices and diversity in the workplace. The virtual ceremony included parents who talked about the positive impact that has been made on their child. They may not have had this type of opportunity if programs like these did not exist.

Beyond the skills for the job, Chris has taught social skills, discipline, patience and teamwork. And for our Ken’s Krew associates, he will more than likely leave a lasting impression—a true hallmark of any great coach.

Learn more about Ken’s Krew

Ken’s Krew is an organization that started in 1997 with support from Ken Langone, Home Depot co-founder. It was created with the belief that every individual deserves the chance to enter the workforce, earn a fair wage and reach their full potential. For this reason, Ken’s Krew provides job placement, training and support for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities in competitive employment.