When Black Monday struck the Mahoning Valley in 1977, Boardman resident and current school board president Nik Amstutz was barely a teenager.
“The closing of the steel mills tore through our communities, our families,” recalls Amstutz. “It’s something you never forget. The effects are still all around us today. Housing vacancies are huge, crime is high, unemployment is still painful.”
That memory of the past has become a powerful motivation for the future to Amstutz, who launched a new business in December: WorkForce Testing, a full service drug testing and background screening company serving area businesses, schools and families.
“We’re on the edge of an economic explosion,” he explains. “Hydraulic fracking technology means we can get at oil and gas that used to be inaccessible. And we’re sitting on top of a natural gas deposit big enough to supply the U.S. for the next hundred years!”
All of this requires new factories to provide drilling and transporting equipment. And that means new jobs. V&M Star has already pumped over a billion dollars into the region through its massive Youngstown pipe mill and a finishing plant in Girard.
“That’s just the beginning,” says Amstutz. “As the infrastructure grows, it will need more manufacturing, support industries and trucking services. And most of those will be under Department of Transportation regulation.”
That is significant for his new company because DOT requires workplace drug programs and regular testing for employees—something he ready and able to provide on any scale. And he sees other possibilities as area business expands.
“As the economy grows, Workforce Testing grows. Unemployment is already dropping. New workers means more housing. I give landlords access to fast state-of-the-art online tenant background checks any time of day or night.”
As president of a former business and through his other work experience, Amstutz has gained valuable knowledge of both customer service and workplace conditions to build his company’s success on. But he sees his business as more than just a financial opportunity. A lifelong native of Boardman, he has a history of activism and community service, including multiple terms on the Boardman School Board as well as being past president of the Boardman Rotary. To him, this new enterprise is another chance to give back to his community.
“Sure, I intend to reap the benefits of a growing economy,” he says. “But I want this to be a great place to live and a sound economy is only part of the picture. Drug abuse is a serious problem and a big part of our high crime rate. Drug testing can help in the war against abuse, and not just in the workplace. I provide testing services, products, and drug education programs for schools and families as well.”
In addition to onsite instant drug testing and laboratory testing, WorkForce offers an environmental detection program. “We can actually detect microscopic evidence of drug use on desks, computers, backpacks, car interiors—almost any surface. This means employers can know if they have problems before confronting a worker. It means parents know where they stand regarding drug use by their kids before they have that all-important conversation. Knowing is the first step toward preventing.
“My wife and I have two children in middle school,” Amstutz says. “We’ve seen the toll drugs have taken on kids in our community, promising futures that have crashed and burned. If I can go to work every day knowing I am making my family’s financial future secure and at the same time helping make our workplaces and community safer—who could ask for a better job?”