Columbus area companies encourage other contractors and businesses to become second-chance employers

With more than a hundred employees at various stages of their recovery, Five Star Home Services is one of the state’s leading second chance employers. 

Seeing the current workforce exodus crippling other contractors and the dire need for new approaches to addiction treatment, a group of Columbus-area businesses are backing a very innovative and unique nonprofit endeavor to address both problems and launch the nation’s first recovery center and trade school right here in Ohio. 

Although Emerge Recovery & Trade Initiative is located in nearby Greene County, Ohio, a large portion of this nonprofit’s backing and leadership is based out of Greater Columbus and surrounding areas, as dozens of heating, air conditioning, plumbing and  electrical companies throughout Central Ohio are funneling portions of their profits into renovations underway at the facility. 

Once it’s fully operational, Emerge will serve people from all over Ohio; it is located at the former Greene County Career Center in Xenia Township. The 48-acre campus went up for auction in 2021 after the school moved to a new facility and its future was uncertain. 

The property was purchased by Kip Morris, CEO of Five Star Home Services, Chris Adams of Narrow Path Plumbing and Doug Van Dyke of Van Martin Roofing, who formed the nonprofit trade school and vocational center for people in recovery and youth aging out of foster care. 

Five Star Home Services has dozens of smaller, local companies throughout Greater Columbus. The company is currently one of the state’s leading second-chance employers, with more than a hundred employees at various stages of their recovery.

With the workforce steadily dwindling amid the “Great Resignation” and drug addictions costing Ohio taxpayers billions of dollars, Emerge’s innovative solutions to these problems are almost certain to have implications for the entire state and, if successful, perhaps even the rest of the nation as thousands of baby boomers across the U.S. continue to retire every day. 

Currently, the facility is undergoing a $1.5 million renovation to get the men’s side open by early next year. However, organizers face a $250,000 funding shortfall and are looking for contributions from the community to complete it. Once the place is fully operational, Emerge will have 50 beds for men, 50 beds for women and 40 beds for youth emancipated from foster care. The blueprint for this first facility is designed to be fully self-sustaining and replicable.  

People completing the program will walk into their new lives in recovery with sustainable careers in the skilled trades industry, where their state certifications will make them assets as contractors in these fields are currently searching for qualified help. 

Because of this, organizers are also seeking to raise awareness among area business owners and encourage contractors and other companies in Central Ohio to become second-chance employers and embrace people who are in recovery. All of this coincides with a cultural movement underway to “end the stigma” and embrace people in recovery while recognizing addiction to be a chronic disease that is extremely fatal. Almost every member of society is affected by addiction in some way shape or form and the current drug epidemic is costing taxpayers billions of dollars in Ohio. 

With all the challenges HVAC, plumbing and electrical contractors face as they try to grow and reach increasing demands, organizers encourage this valuable employment practice — and not just because it will help their businesses grow, but also because they believe it’s the right thing to do. There are financial incentives and tax breaks involved in hiring people in recovery.  

People in recovery also tend to be very hardworking and loyal. They are grateful for the opportunities they’ve been given and tend to stay longer. Nevertheless, in order to do this successfully companies should have things in place that facilitate recovery and growth.  

The synergy between Five Star Home Services and Emerge will hopefully pave the way for more businesses to adopt second-chance employer practices. Five Star Home Services and officials at Emerge said they are willing to work with outside organizations and partner with them to make strides in meeting the workforce demands in the community. 

For more information, to donate or get involved contact Elaine Bonner, Director of Philanthropy at Emerge at 937.974.6120 or visit