When his mother was pregnant with him, she contracted German measles. This caused 31-year-old Jan Aldrin L. Lontoc to be born deaf.
Lontoc, however, did not allow his condition to affect what he wanted to achieve in life – to be the best version of himself and to be a valuable member of the community.
After graduating from a two-year course in hotel and restaurant services, Lontoc worked as a part time waiter in a catering company. He also had stints in Bench and Hapee Toothpaste.
“I learned about the Caravan Food Group, Inc. when I submitted my resume at the UNILAB Office. And that was the start of my working relationship with Elait in 2017,” Lontoc said.
The Caravan Food Group Inc. is the company behind Elait and Overdoughs. Elait offers ice cream where customers can witness ice cream being rolled with their favorite flavors right in front of them. Overdoughs, on the other hand, offers their very own versions of donuts or doughnuts, mouthwatering chunky cookies or Chonky Cookies, brownies or brookies, pizza and fries.
What makes these two establishments stand out is that they provide employment and opportunities for the deaf. “When I was a teenager, I remember visiting a clothing shop. The employees at the shop were all at the cashier talking to each other. And then there was a guy who approached me but he was not talking. He was trying his best to really assist me and it was then that I noticed that there was a name tag and the word deaf was placed,’ recalled Francis Carl Reyes, CEO and Founder of Caravan Food Group Inc.
That was Reyes’ first experience with a deaf person who he felt was the “epitome of good customer service. No matter who you are, he is going to assist you. No judgement.” That experience made him decide that he would employ deaf partners for his store.
He tried out the deaf partner program initially with Elait. When he saw that it was doing well, he implemented it at Overdoughs. Initially, Reyes started with two able and two deaf partners and he would be observing how they were doing their jobs.
Before he was deployed in Elait, Lontoc underwent training and he said that it was a good experience for him. “I learned a lot during my training with Elait. I learned how to roll the ice cream properly and serve customers. After a while I, my supervisors gave me the opportunity to transfer to Overdoughs. There, I learned to prepare the doughnuts and our best-selling Chonky Cookies,” Lontoc said.
In spite of the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, Lontoc persevered and rose the ranks to become a team leader in just five years. “As of now, I am currently in training to be an area supervisor and I am very thankful to my managers because they are very supportive,” Lontoc said.
Lontoc will definitely have his hands full in the coming months as Reyes hopes to convert more of their Overdoughs outlets into cafes so that customers can get to savor their other products like pizzas, fried chicken, fries and empanadas.
Overdoughs currently has one such outlet in Greenhills where customers can not only enjoy good food but do good as well.
“I have learned to do my best, to be patient, trustworthy, dependable and reliable. I want to be a successful area supervisor, a position, I hope I can have for a lifetime. Now that I am married, I want to have a stable job for my family,” Lontoc said.