Louisville dog treat company provides jobs for adults with special needs

Louisville dog treat company provides jobs for adults with special needs
Wigglewow, an all-natural dog treat company, launched in August. The company provides jobs for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A new company in Louisville is focused on changing lives through all-natural dog biscuits.

Wigglewow, an all-natural dog treat company, launched in August. The company provides jobs for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The company's founder, Mark Pfeifer, thought of the idea about five years ago while working in corporate America.

"I truly feel God has me on a mission and it's not about making rich people richer anymore," Pfeifer said. "It's about transforming lives."

The company not only hires adults with special needs, but also a parent too. Pfeifer said when children with special needs graduate from the education system, they become the responsibility of family members again.

“You have a population where 85 percent that are able to work can’t find a job for anybody,” Pfeifer said.

He has hired four adults with special needs so far, along with a parent to work with their child. Both make $8.50 per hour.

“If you think about the model where before coming to Wigglewow, both of them were sitting at home,” Pfeifer said. “Now if they’re able to work full time that’s an additional $50,000 for that family because we’re hiring both our ‘Epic Chef’ and the parent.”

Wigglewow's first hired employee, Dante, struggled to find a job for five years. His mom, Karen White, said she's incredibly grateful for Wigglewow and the opportunity it's providing her and her son.

“On his first day he was so excited,” White said. “He was just so excited, real excited. I’m excited too because I get to come along with him and you know, watch him work.”

Each of the adults hired are called ‘Epic Chefs’.

“To be in a job that embraces her even more about all of her abilities and to learn this new process about baking and you know looking at the end results of the little dog treat, I’m just really excited for her,” Mona Wilkerson, the mother of 'Epic Chef’ Danielle Wilkerson said.

Danielle Wilkerson started working with Wigglewow in November.

“It’s all about focusing on someone’s abilities rather than their disabilities, so that’s the focus that Mark has,” Mona said.

Derek Beary was hired after the company launched in August.

“Mark will hire anyone with special needs,” Beary said. “He doesn’t have boundaries here. He’ll basically hire anyone. Which means I’ll wake up and have a job, which is great.”

The ‘Epic Chefs’ help cut the dough, stamp it with a 'Wow’ logo, and bake the dog treats before packaging them to sell.

“They’re all natural,” Beary said. “They’re oats, water, eggs and bacon.”

Pfeifer said his vision is that 10 years from now, they will be the largest employer in America for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

For more information about Wigglewow, visit their website here.

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