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Red Deer caramel company makes hiring people with disabilities a priority

Carrol’s Caramels Corp sets up at summer outdoor markets
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Carrol’s Caramels is a new Red Deer home-based business. (Contributed by Carrol’s Caramels Corp)

A home-based caramel company in Red Deer is focused on selling sweet treats as well as employing people with disabilities.

Murray Carrol Roddis, owner of Carrol’s Caramels Corp., said his company is 100 per cent disability owned and operated, and the ultimate dream would be to develop a centre of excellence in Capstone to show the world how to hire people with disabilities.

“This centre of excellence is definitely doable. We just need to get a lot of people behind us to support us,” Roddis said.

Roddis is accredited by the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program and helps architects and engineers to build fully accessible buildings or communities. Now he’s working with a Calgary company to augment a person’s lack of ability with robotics.

He said the centre could be a destination to show people how employers could incorporate artificial intelligence and produce delicious caramels at the same time.

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Roddis, who has severe learning disabilities and ADHD, used to have his own construction surveying company for many years until his osteoarthritis forced him to look for a new line of work.

That’s when he started working to perfect his mother’s caramel recipe.

“Mom’s caramels were pretty much family favourites. She’d make a box for us kids every Christmas.”

But he noticed that after experimenting with the ingredients and how the caramels were made, friends and family couldn’t get enough of them. After making them available to the public at Healthy Living Expo in January and selling out, he decided to pursue his caramel venture.

Roddis said once people taste the caramels, available with or without pecans, they almost always buy some.

“They say that they’re not very sticky. They say that they’re not too sweet, and they think that they’re soft and smooth.”

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Carrol’s Caramels candy has been sold at Gasoline Alley Farmer’s Market. The company had its first outdoor booth at the Lacombe Farmers Market on Thursday, and will be at Red Deer Public Market on Saturday, as well as at Capstone Saturday night for the Fireworks Viewing Party.

The company has five part-time staff with disabilities so employing people with disabilities is viable, Roddis said.

“Any business could incorporate the same process we use.”



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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