When Rupert bought the business four years ago, he got lots of calls from people looking for a job. He had only a few employees then and installed one or two countertops a week. Now, they have 15 to 20 installations in a day, and the situation has flipped.
"The available workforce for us has really shrank. A lot of them that we are getting and interviewing, there are a lot a drug problems," Rupert said.
A national study by Princeton economist Alan Krueger found that 47 percent of men between the ages of 25 and 54 years old who are not in the labor force take pain medication. Two-thirds of those took prescription drugs.
In Ohio, deaths from prescription painkillers have given way to a potentially more dangerous substitute, the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Recently released state data showed more than 4,000 people died from overdoses last year, up from about 3,000 in 2015, with fentanyl driving the spike. President Donald Trump has declared the opioid crisis a national emergency, although no official paperwork has been filed yet.
Rupert realized the problem was worsening and took action, hiring Ron Eagle, a recovering addict, about a year and a half ago. Eagle then introduced Rupert to his friends in recovery, who also got jobs at the company. Now, they all hold each other accountable.
"I don't necessarily care about these guys' past. I'm looking at what they're doing today. What they're going for in their future," Rupert said. "A guy that is willing to invest any kind of time in their future and their lifestyle and their healthy living is a guy worth bringing on."
Eagle spent 20 years addicted to opiates. It started with a back injury when he was 19, working as a beer distributor. The repetitive motion disintegrated the disk in his back, he said, leading him down the path of addiction.
"Things got so bad that I just wanted to die. I wasn't afraid of death. I was afraid to live," said Eagle.
After completing treatment in a detox center, Eagle said he moved into a recovery house for men called House of Hope. He embarked on its six-month program to help recovering addicts get back on their feet, including preparations for re-entering the workforce.
Richard Mason, an employment specialist at the House of Hope, holds weekly classes on how to succeed in a job interview. He sharpens their skills and gives them the tools they need to ace their first meeting with a potential employer. His No. 1 piece of advice is honesty.
"An employer doesn't want you to sugarcoat your past," he said. "Recovery is about rigorous honesty. What we want the employers to see is you have taken responsibility for your past and you have changed your life."
House of Hope receives funding from the state, which has spent $1 billion to help communities stem the tide of the opioid epidemic.
"Individuals who are in recovery are drug-free," said Tracy Plouck, director of Ohio's Mental Health and Addiction Services. "They are productive, determined employees, and they deserve the opportunity to work and support their families."
Monahan moved into House of Hope this summer after hitting rock bottom at the homeless shelter. On a recent morning, he stood on the front porch of the grey-and-white colonial home with his buddies, dressed in a navy button-down shirt and khakis. Less than a month ago, he applied for a job at a local restaurant called Hot Chicken Takeover. The owner hired him on the spot.
"It's never too late for someone. I fully believe in second chances. My goal is upper management or corporate," he said. "That's where I'm trying to go — to the top."