When Mike Hoffer started working for us in 2016, he felt like he was at the end of his rope. Hoffer had just completed drug and alcohol treatment when he came to work for Five Star Heating & Cooling Group in central Ohio. A marine veteran, he’d spent most of his adult life trapped in the horrors of drug and alcohol addiction with what felt like no end in sight.

“Coming out of that life, it feels like there isn’t any hope,” he said. “I thank God every day for having found this company. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.”

Having some experience in construction, Hoffer started at our company with an entry-level position. From there, we were able to nurture him, like we have countless others, into the productive member of society he is today.

“I started at the bottom,” he said. “I ran parts and worked in the warehouse while the company’s leadership mentored me.”

Then, in 2020, Hoffer became a licensed HVAC technician after taking his EPA exam. Today, he is a commercial service technician and his life is completely different from when he started.

“The difference is like night and day,” he said. “That was a very dark period in my life and today, I wake up grateful to be alive and grateful for having found this company. This is my family.”

And like a family, Hoffer is one of more than a hundred second-chance employees at our company, which is quickly approaching the 300-employee threshold, who share similar stories of transformation and hope.

“I plan on staying here for life,” he said. “It’s not just about a paycheck here. There’s more to it. Second-chance employees are grateful for the opportunity they’re given. We love coming to work and feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves.”

We have countless stories of hope like Mike’s at our company, which was founded in 1972 and has been guided by spiritual principles. With about 60% of our staff in recovery today, our stance as a second-chance employer is one of the key factors that fuel our growth and attracts the right talent to us — whether it be people in recovery, people needing a second chance, or people who join us because of our profit with purpose principles that help make our communities better places.

In an age when business owners struggle to find workers, we believe this is an asset that could help other companies. No other occupation is more in-demand right now than HVAC technicians. We all know this. The Bureau of Labor predicts the demand for HVAC technicians will increase by 13% in the next several years, with more than 46,000 new jobs.

With all the challenges HVAC contractors face as they try to grow and reach an increasing demand, we encourage others to consider this valuable employment practice — and not just because it will help your business grow, but also because (we feel) it’s the right thing to do.

Every member of our society in today’s age is in some way affected by addiction. We all know someone, whether it be a friend, a family member or an acquaintance, who’s been touched by this tragic epidemic. These are basically good people who’ve made mistakes.

People make mistakes. We’re all human.

We believe these people deserve second chances.

So what does a company need to do to become a second-chance employer?

The most important thing, we feel, is maintaining an ongoing conversation with employees about how to support them in their recovery. At Five Star, we have weekly accountability meetings. The employees thriving in long-term recovery support those coming on board who are new to recovery. If someone needs outside help, we get them the help they need.

Because we know all the pitfalls and the mistakes to avoid, we can also help others to make sure they have the support structures in place to benefit everyone. We are also willing to talk to any organization that’s thinking about becoming a second-chance employer.

Keep in mind that being a second-chance employer doesn’t affect the background check process. We still very much protect our customers and perform background checks like any other employer.

The people we give second chances to are people who have made a wrong decision and have gone down the wrong path, which is very easy to do in our world — as everyone knows someone affected by addiction.

Essentially, second-chance employers are no different than any other employer. However, there are many benefits for becoming one. People who are in recovery get the help they need and become productive members of society. People who aren’t in recovery get to join a company that’s a part of a good cause, which helps with employee retention. Additionally, there are tax breaks and financial incentives for hiring second-chance employees.

If you’re interested in becoming a second-chance employer and would like to know more, please email me at kip.morris@fivestargroup.com.