Deaf school dynamos

Drawing staff from a local school for the deaf, Image Microsystems found a pool of talented and dedicated workers.

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Alex Abadi and his student team.

(Fortune Small Business) -- Alex Abadi is not just doing a good deed by hiring students from the Texas School for the Deaf. The 49-year-old owner of Image Microsystems, an Austin-based business that repairs and recycles computer parts, also credits deaf employees with the rapid growth of his recycling division, which has nearly doubled his sales.

Abadi first brought the students into his business in 2004 - cautiously. A handful of employees who had hearing-impaired children mentored the newcomers.

But the students soon proved they didn't need hand-holding. Now Abadi simply keeps a sign-language interpreter on staff. His deaf employees extract usable plastic from used hard drives, printers, and monitors.

This year a quarter of Image's staff are deaf, and Abadi's revenues are on track to hit $40 million - up $14 million over 2007.

"Disabled workers are better than regular employees," says Abadi. "They are more committed and like their jobs better. Other companies just need to give them a chance." To top of page

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