Chris | Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana
Most of Chris’ work at Fort Wayne Metals involves stripping remnant wire off spools for recycling.
Chris updates an inventory spreadsheet on a computer at Fort Wayne Metals.
Neil Herrberg, left, an employment specialist at Easterseals Arc, helped Chris with the job search that led to Fort Wayne Metals. He still checks in on Chris, more than a year after he was hired.
Chris, right, talks with his supervisor at Fort Wayne Metals, Brian Minich.
John Mishler, left, has worked closely with Chris since Chris was hired more than a year ago.

Chris has worked several jobs before, at groceries and a restaurant. When he began the job hunt that led to Fort Wayne Metals, he was washing and detailing cars at a body shop. That last job taught him he didn’t like idle time.

Chris is never idle at Fort Wayne Metals, which manufactures many sizes and types of precision wire. He’s been employed there for more than a year, and he always has work to do. It’s been an opportunity for him to learn new skills and – he emphasizes this – “make new friends.”

“What’s really helped Chris be successful this time is the great support system at Fort Wayne Metals,” said Neil Herrberg, an employment specialist for Easterseals Arc. “He’s got a great supervisor in Brian (Minich) and a great mentor in John (Mishler). The people there have been professional, supportive and helpful, and that’s been key to Chris’ success.”

Herrberg has advised Chris during his job search and throughout his employment at Fort Wayne Metals.

Chris works Monday through Friday, a total of 28 hours a week. Most of what he does is unwinding wire remnants off spools to collect that wire for recycling. But he’s versatile, and Herrberg says he brings other skills and knowledge – some from previous jobs – to work at Fort Wayne Metals. Sometimes he stocks inventory and documents inventory for the facility he works in, too, Herrberg said.

Chris gives a lot of credit to coworker John Mishler for answering his questions and showing him how to do the job. He admits that he can give Mishler some tips when it comes to computers.

“I’m a gamer, and I know some things about computers,” Chris said.

Mishler give Chris credit, too. “He does a very good job. He helps me out a lot. If it wasn’t for him, I’d be behind.”

Mishler said it was Fort Wayne Metals management that teamed him up with Chris.

“They knew I was behind and needed help,” Mishler said. “I was more than happy to take all the help I could get.”

In her role as a talent sourcing partner at the company, Autumn DeMott was the first person to interview Chris when he applied. She’s seen him progress well.

“From what I’ve heard, he gets along well with everyone,” she said. “He shows up. He’s always happy. He’s always smiling. You can tell he loves what he does. From an employee perspective, he does a good job. From a production perspective, his role is important. We need people to keep things moving, and that’s what Chris helps out with.”

Chris is proud of a concrete sign of his success: his wage. He’s demonstrated his capability and been there long enough that he’s been given a raise, and he’s now making more money working part-time than he did working full-time at his previous job.

His pay has helped him dig into an interest from long ago.

“Now I take drum lessons,” he said. “When I was a little kid, I had a drum set that consisted of kick drum, cymbal, high-hat, tom and snare, but I felt that it was too hard for me.”

When he was in school, he went on to play trumpet in marching band, jazz band and pep band. Now he says he’d like to join those drummers whose playing on YouTube he admires.

“If the drumming goes well, if I’m able to actually play the drums, I would probably have a YouTube channel,” he said.

No matter the course of his drumming future, Chris is excited about his prospects at Fort Wayne Metals.

Depending on job openings, “I may move up to full-time,” he said.