Local company expanding, expects to employ 300 within 5 years

If Code Blue, the Wisconsin-based insurance claims management company, makes good on its pledge to bring up to 300 jobs to its new downtown Springfield location within five years, the firm would change the business climate downtown significantly.

The company would rank only with government entities like city, county and U.S. Post Office as largest downtown employer.

Paul Gross, president and CEO of Wisconsin-based Code Blue, kicked off his company’s presence in Springfield Friday, Feb. 26, at an event that drew Gov. Ted Strickland and local dignitaries.

“This is a great day for the community, the region and the state,” Strickland said. He turned to Gross to thank him personally, and said, “because you’re not only bringing jobs, you’re bringing hope.”

The company is moving temporarily into One South Fountain building — the former Credit-Life Building — while newly renovated office space is prepared on the fourth floor of the Bushnell building, 14 E. Main St.

“The single most motivating reason we chose Springfield is the available work force,” Gross said. “The thing I find most impressive are the people.”

Code Blue trains contractors and employees to use new practices in repairing homes to minimize the costs associated with flood damage. The company combines drying technology with a rapid-response operation to salvage nearly all of a property’s furniture, flooring and wallboard — in hopes of significantly reducing the rebuild costs.

Code Blue is working with Clark State Community College to build a test house that will be flooded repeatedly and used for training.

Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said the company is a welcome addition to the city.

“We deeply appreciate Paul’s willingness to make such a commitment to the community and we will work with (him) to ensure success,” Copeland said.

The deal was first broached by state Sen. Chris Widener, according to Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce President Mike McDorman. McDorman said he was summoned to a meeting in Columbus by Widener to talk with Gross two years ago. At the time Gross gave Springfield “less than a 2 percent chance” of winning his operation, McDorman said.

“We worked tirelessly as one team to make the seemingly impossible possible,” McDorman said. “We’ve had many base hits over the past years, but this is our grand slam.”

Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0371 or elroberts@coxohio.com.