VICTORIA -- Sam Price runs a tight ship in the lumber section of Saanich’s Home Depot, where he’s worked since that particular store opened its doors 15 years ago.

It’s hard work, often involving sorting and lifting heavy wood, but he really enjoys it.

“I like my job a lot,” Price says as he prepares to stack more piles of lumber.

The 34-year-old — who has Down syndrome — has been formally recognized by the store many times as an outstanding employee.

The recognition cuts both ways. Price says it’s the best Home Depot in Canada.

“It’s number one,” he says smiling while proudly raising his index finger.

His colleagues say his work ethic stacks up favourably with anyone else’s and his section of the large store is spotless whenever he’s on shift.

“It’s his baby, he takes care of it,” says the store assistant manager, Darcy Lockhart.

“He’s always busy,” says Lockhart. “He’s always positive. He’s always looking for the bright side of things, and that’s what’s contagious and that’s why everyone always loves working with Sam.”

Canadian Down Syndrome Week just wrapped up. One of its central messages is encouraging people to see the ability, not the challenges, that people with Down syndrome face.

Paul Crowley, the co-president of the Greater Victoria Down Syndrome Society, says another central message is the importance of meaningful employment for people with the diagnosis.

“It’s really rewarding for them, it gives their life purpose,” he says.

It’s also clear that the the benefits of employment flow both ways, Crowley points out, noting the value for businesses.

“[It’s] not just out of charitable consideration, it’s an important part of their business, they bring a lot to the community,” he says.

While it may just be a franchise hardware store, it’s clear Price has helped create a community at the store.

“I love these guys a lot,” Price says, referring to his co-workers. It’s clear, that feeling is mutual.