Disability Prompts Bowling Green Man to Pursue Dream
Harold Yoder had always wanted to work with exotic animals. It
was a crazy idea he kept to himself until an overhead crane
knocked him down at a construction site. The accident gave him
chronic throbbing back pain, the kind that would not let Harold
sit, stand, or sleep very long. Pain management and physical
therapy did not ease the ache. Doctors declared him disabled and
The Bowling Green man believed them for awhile, cashing workers’ compensation check for a couple of years. Then he consulted an Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission (RSC) vocational rehabilitation counselor about a new career. During the interview Harold revealed his dream of running pet store, expecting a laugh. But the counselor took him seriously.
RSC sent Harold to a self-employment counselor at the Toledo Chamber of Commerce, paid for his small business management courses at Terra Technical College, and helped him write a business plan, understand the pitfalls of owning a business and locate funding sources. Harold also found his retail niche. He specializes in exotic pets—Savannah monitor lizards, puffer fish, tarantulas, sharks and foot-long centipedes that eat rats—not the petting and cuddling types. He also imports animals from Indonesia, the Philippines, Hawaii and Central America for customers with eccentric tastes in pets.
Harold is remodeling the store to accommodate his disability, which eventually will require him to use a wheelchair. The pet store business pays the bills, feeds his family, and fulfills his dream. Harold refuses to sell his business to pet store chains. He is even putting money back into the two-year-old business and hopes to own the building that houses it soon.
Every year RSC helps people with disabilities unlock secret ambitions and become self-sufficient and successful entrepreneurs. RSC is good for people, good for business, and good for Ohio.