Owners of old Greene County Career Center want to create new trade school

·3 min read

Mar. 8—A group of HVAC, plumbing and roofing executives have bought the former Greene County Career Center building and plan to continue to use it as a trade school.

Kip Morris, CEO of HVAC company Five Star Heating and Cooling Group, Chris Adams who owns Narrow Path Plumbing and Doug Van Dyke, owner of Van Martin Roofing, bought the building for $1.6 million.

The auction for the building at 2960 W. Enon Road in Xenia Twp. lasted about an hour, said Greene County Career Center spokesman Ron Bolender. Morris was the highest bidder.

The three plan to make the building a trade school called, "The Trades," where students can learn heating and cooling, plumbing, welding, electricity and construction. Morris said he and his partners will focus on recovering addicts, at-risk youth and children aging out of foster care.

They hope to be in the building by May and start teaching classes in the fall, Morris said. The group has already hired a director for the school.

"What makes us different from other trade schools is we've got a heating and cooling company, a plumbing company and a roofing company that are going to let the students come apply what they learned that morning or the day before in the field that afternoon," Morris said.

Morris said he and his partners are all in long-term recovery. Morris has been in recovery for 19 years.

"We all have a heart for people in recovery," he said. "All of our companies are what we call 'second chance companies' where if somebody has struggled with addiction, and they're on a good path, we are willing to take a chance and employ them and give them hope to the recovery process, which is a pretty crucial ingredient to success."

Morris said of his company's 100 employees, about half are recovering addicts. He said the group was already in negotiations over another potential school site, but then this building went up for auction.

"If it wasn't for God moving in our lives, none of this would be possible. Everything has just fallen into place," Morris said. "We're really going to be able to do it on an incredibly large scale. We're not really looking to make money off this. If the only thing that happens is we help people that are in the recovery process, or at risk youth, and we give them a career and hope for their journey... our mission is accomplished."

Greene County Career Center Superintendent Dave Deskins said he is thrilled to see someone with the same mission buying the old career center building.

"I know that was a tough day for old staff and alumni. Selling the building is bittersweet. But it's great to see that it can get used and the work we did there will carry on with Mr. Morris and his partners," Deskins said.

Deskins said he and Morris have discussed how the two schools could partner in the future.

"Our career center for years has been putting people into the workforce. And it's great that someone will be working to fill trades we currently are not offering to area high school students, like HVAC and plumbing, which are screaming for more people, and putting them out into the local economy," Deskins said. "This is really good for Greene County and it will be good for the whole Miami Valley."

Career center students started attending the new $70 million career center building on Innovation Drive in August 2020. Voters approved a 20-year, 1.03-mill tax to help pay for the new facility in Xenia. The building was designed by Levin Porter Architects, and Shook Construction was the general contractor.

By law the Greene County Career Center had to offer the old building to charter and STEM schools in the district. No one was interested in the building, so it was put up for auction. The Board of Education will review this offer at the March 10 meeting.