NOT many 21-year-olds can claim to be their own boss and be the face of their own paper shredding company.
But then again, there are not many with a work ethic like Brandon Tomic.
Diagnosed with autism at the age of two, Brandon is low-functioning, mostly non-verbal and requires constant one-on-one support, but that has not stopped him from starting his own company.
His mother Simone, who helps him run Brandon’s Shredding Boxes, said it started as a means to find him work but took on a life of its own and his confidence had skyrocketed.
After Brandon finished school in 2017, his parents were unsure what he was going to do until he jumped on the shredder at a disability support provider.
“Whatever he did, I wanted him to do it independently and shredding he could do independently,” Mrs Tomic said.
“When he was in school, they would take him to the office, he got the mail and once it was sorted he would shred all the junk.”
Brandon’s method is simple – go to a client’s office, collect paper in a box, head home and get to work.
Accompanied by a support worker, he will shred for hours upon end, which helps him relax.
“Sometimes I’ll have to say ‘come inside, it’s dark outside’. If he’s having a bad day in here and he needs something to relax, he’s out there with the shredders,” Mrs Tomic said.
“Every day when he puts on his ‘Brandon’s Shredding Boxes’ T-shirt, he knows he’s going to work.”
“At the end of the day, he tells the support worker it’s ‘clock-off time’.”
Mrs Tomic said while she and her husband Rob wanted the best for their son, they did not want him sitting around the house and being unproductive.
“We didn’t want him bludging. We said if he wasn’t studying, he needed to contribute back into the community,” she said.
“We’re very blessed we get funding, and we’ve got to make sure we use that funding purposely.”
Mrs Tomic said National Disability Insurance Scheme support had helped the business boom and provided a “shredding crew” in the form of service workers who assist Brandon six days a week.
“It helped the business establish with the manpower. They sit out there and shred as well, even though they don’t have to,” she said.
With more than 230 businesses on the books, the company has outgrown the family garage worskspace and is now on the hunt for a permanent premises.
As they move closer to “Brandon’s Shredding Bunker”, Mrs Tomic said she had a grand vision for the distant future.
“I’ve found in the special needs community, for the lower functioning people, there’s not many opportunities for work,” she said.
“I want to create a centre where low-functioning people with a support worker can volunteer their time, learn a skill and one day we might be able to employ them.
“Going into offices and carrying his box has been really good for him, and I’d like to reciprocate that for other people.”