Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 41

says. "It's dangerous. There are forklifts,
large pieces of equipment moving quickly."
He quickly realized an off-site position
would be best. Conveniently, there was a
piece of property available in the nearby
town of Pennington-20,000 square feet.
"I knew if I sent the work there-jobs we
do already like assembly and packaging-it
would be something not only Colin could
do. With a staff to help run it, we could bring
on 50 Colins!"
And so, We Make, a brand and a nonprofit, was born.

This isn't arts and crafts done by children
with autism, Lesenskyj is quick to point out.
The young people of We Make are making real products that are on the shelves
at Lowe's, Home Depot and lumber yards
across the nation.
"There's a value here," he explains. "It's
more like a movement than just a company."
The We Make brand lets consumers
know that when they purchase a product,
it's something an autistic individual made
or packaged.
And the facility-with a program director
plucked directly from the rich community
of autism-experienced professionals with
whom Lesenskyj has worked for years-
allows people all along the spectrum to
work effectively in the way that suits their
unique needs.
"If they're having a rough day, a rough
hour, a rough minute, they can take a time
out and go play an arcade game, watch a
movie, do some exercise on a treadmill,"
Lesenskyj explains. "They have that escape
Naysayers, those unfamiliar with the
challenge of autism, often wonder whether
such "luxuries" mean workers won't ever
want to do their jobs. Not the case, says
"Usually, within a couple of minutes,
they'll tell the plant manager they're ready to
go back to work. They want to work. People
across the spectrum can be very different.

Someone with Asperger's Syndrome, for
example, they're really high functioning.
They can probably work in the outside world."
Lesenskyj's son, Colin, is neither high- nor
"He's right in the middle. He thinks [when
he's at work] that he's just doing another
exercise similar to the things he's been doing
the past 12 years at school. We mix it in with
some fun while he's there, and he enjoys
it. He comes home and tells me how many
bracket kits he's put together."
Colin isn't the only one excited, either.
The facility sits prime on a road with
2,000-3,000 cars a day whizzing past. When
its sign went up (We Make. Autism at work.),
they began pulling over.
"CEOs, factory owners, all kinds of people," Lesenskyj says. "They wanted to help."

And so, these days, the We Make employees aren't just working for LMT, they're
handling packaging for other fencing companies, a medical firm that sends supplies to
hospitals across the nation. As word spreads,
more become interested. There's a waiting
list for new employees. And no shortage of
companies looking for ways in which to help
We Make prosper.
"We were recently approached by
Atmosphere Proximity, one of the largest
advertising firms in New York City," says

The young people of We Make are making real products
that are on the shelves at Lowe's, Home Depot and
lumber yards across the nation.
www.americanfenceassociation.com | 41 | May/June 2018

Lesenskyj. "They asked if they could handle
all aspects of marketing, advertising and PR
for free. They did our entire website!"
Two weeks before this interview,
Lesenskyj talked about We Make on a program on PBS. In the coming months, he's
scheduled to tell its story on all the network
morning shows. Things are about to blow
up, but he's more than ready. The We Make
business model, he says, is easily duplicated.
He expects its next location will be set up
near the LMT facility in Akron, Ohio.
The solution for Colin and his growing
team of coworkers is a solution for many.
An estimated 1.5 million people live with
autism, says We Make's website, making up
a very special workforce whose families want
to see them live happily and productively.
Parents like Lesenskyj live, in part, with
worry, he explains. They wonder what will
happen to their kids when they are gone.
And in the present, they are often called
away from their own jobs when the ones
their kids are doing don't work out.
"[We Make] disrupted that process.
We've set up a location where a parent will
never get called if their child is having a bad
day. They can drop them off and actually
schedule their own lives. It's not just for the
autistic individuals, it's for their parents,
too, because their lives are filled with disruptions. We are set up to take care of any
high-anxiety level the kids experience..."
He laughs, catching himself at the use of
words like "children" and "kids." The young
people at his facility at the moment range
from age 16 to 21.
"In their hearts," he says warmly. "They
really are children. And they love it here. It's
a safe haven." ■


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fencepost - May/June 2018

Editor’s Note
Executive Director’s Message
President’s Message
Board of Directors | Chapter Presidents Committee
Fenced In: Best Practices for Farm and Ranch Enclosures
Getting in the Loop
Long-Term Objectives of AFA’s Upcoming Certified Fence Contractor Program
5 Strategies to Give Your Fencing Company a Good Name
New Members
Solving the Puzzle
An Aging Workforce – Is 60 the New 40?
Chapter News
Fence Contractors: Manage Your Auto Fleet Risk
Minding Your Business
Index to Advertisers
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - Intro
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - cover1
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - cover2
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 3
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 4
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 5
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 6
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 7
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 8
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 9
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 10
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 11
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 12
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - Editor’s Note
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 14
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - Executive Director’s Message
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 16
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - President’s Message
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 18
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - Board of Directors | Chapter Presidents Committee
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - Fencelines
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 21
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - Fenced In: Best Practices for Farm and Ranch Enclosures
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 23
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 24
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 25
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 26
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - CLFMI
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - Getting in the Loop
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 29
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 30
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 31
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 32
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - VMA
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 34
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - Long-Term Objectives of AFA’s Upcoming Certified Fence Contractor Program
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 36
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 5 Strategies to Give Your Fencing Company a Good Name
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 38
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - New Members
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - Solving the Puzzle
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 41
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - An Aging Workforce – Is 60 the New 40?
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 43
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - Chapter News
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 45
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - Fence Contractors: Manage Your Auto Fleet Risk
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 47
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - 48
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - Minding Your Business
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - Index to Advertisers
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - cover3
Fencepost - May/June 2018 - cover4