Longtime Xenia auto shop that closed during COVID to reopen and train mechanics

Emerge Recovery and Trade Initiative plans to use the shop’s six automotive bays to train mechanics in high demand.

A longtime Xenia auto shop that closed in 2021 due to a lack of skilled workers, is reopening under management that intends to train the next generation of them.

Pitt Stop Tire & Auto, located at 828 Cincinnati Avenue, closed during the COVID pandemic after serving Xenia residents for nearly 40 years, citing a lack of skilled mechanics.

“The previous owner literally left everything in place and vacated without notice,” said Micah Steele, the new general manager of Pitt Stop. “There was still lunch on the table when we came in here.”

Chris Adams and Kip Morris, two of the three founders of Emerge Recovery & Trade Initiative in Xenia Twp., purchased the business last month, and plan to re-open the shop in July and offer clients state-certified training in auto mechanics.

“There is such a huge need for good mechanics,” said Morris, who is also CEO of Five Star Home Services. “We initially put in a single bay at Emerge. However, this is an opportunity to do auto mechanics at a much higher level.”

Emerge Recovery and Trade Initiative currently offers vocational training programs for HVAC, plumbing, and customer service. Acquisition of Pitt Stop is the latest expansion in what trade education Emerge will offer.

“We decided to make this a full retail operation that will offer vocational training,” Steele said. “This place is fully equipped with six bays. We are cleaning it up right now but everything is about ready to go.”

Steele and Pitt Stop’s new ASE master certified technician Daniel Volz opened a Firestone in South Lebanon in 2019, and have since looked for ways to help people struggling with addiction to rebuild their lives.

“The goal is after a year in the program, the guys that are working here will be able to take the test,” Steele said. “There are seven levels of ASE (Automotive Service Excellence). They’ll be able to test after a year of experience. Then, we will be able to get their career in auto mechanics started where they can earn a decent living.”

Emerge, whose main campus is located at 2960 W Enon Road, has long advocated for second chance employment for individuals recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

While meaningful employment and stable income are essential for those in recovery to fully turn their lives around, those individuals face substantial barriers to obtaining that employment, including transportation, a place to live, mentorship, and community, Emerge leadership previously told the Dayton Daily News.

Being a second-chance employer doesn’t mean relaxing the standards with which customers are treated, it means providing extra safeguards and support to those employees when they need it, they said.

“We believe people deserve second chances,” Steele said. “With all the complaining there is in the auto industry about not being able to find technicians, more employers ought to be more open-minded to accept it.”

“There is a whole untapped labor force of guys who want to work. However, they look them in the face and say, ‘you’re not good enough.’ That’s hard for anyone to hear. It needs to change. If we want to be honest — but by the grace of God — that could be any of us. They just got caught. That’s the only difference,” he said.

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