With Addiction and Prison behind Him, This Construction Owner Is Transformed - and Hiring
From part of the problem to part of the solution.
All Aaron Keisler wants to do is pay it forward.
It used to be that when Keisler’s name was Googled, the first result would be a decree from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville explaining his 46-month prison term for aiding and abetting a robbery.
Hard work, sobriety for nine years and a successful business have moved that search result down to No. 10.
The 34-year-old Keisler, a 2003 Powell High School graduate, is no longer defined by a previous life of opiate addiction without a focus or a plan and a bad decision hanging with the wrong group.
His uncle, Greg Keisler, was there to teach Aaron the construction business when he left the Florida federal prison. In 2015, Aaron started his own construction company and three years later married Amanda Johle, a 2004 Powell grad.
A blended family of five daughters (from 11 years old to Willow, born just a few weeks ago) and a personal trait of a perfectionist are the motivations Keisler has every morning on the next day of his life.
Looking for an apprentice
Right now, Keisler is a one-man show. He’s not exactly thrilled with the challenge of taking on a big project on his own, but it beats the alternative.
“I had guys working for me in the past, but they didn’t have the same work ethic,” Keisler said. “I thought I knew construction before I started working for my uncle when I got out of prison (in 2014).
“I knew how to build things to make money. My uncle taught me how to do it the right way; not to take shortcuts. That fit my personality better.”
Keisler posted on the Facebook page “I Love Powell” that he was looking for a recent high school graduate who would be interested in learning the construction business while getting paid a good wage. He hasn’t had anyone step forward.
“Most people look at this as a 9-5 job, not as a career,” Keisler said. “I’m ready to give paid training. I look at this as a career opportunity.”
Keisler is aware enough to understand one Google search can scare potential clients and partners away.
“I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve lost because of my past,” said Keisler, whose religion carried him through the dark times.
“Knowing me now, you couldn’t imagine what my life was before. It was the complete opposite.
“Powell’s been hit hard in addiction and opiates. I’m willing to take a troubled kid not on the right path on and give my testimony.
We could both benefit from it.”
An A+ rating
Keisler’s No. 2 result on a Google search now is an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
“(The BBB) contacted me and asked about posting the rating,” Keisler said. “They had heard word of mouth from people that were happy with my work. There are so many contractors out there who aren’t reliable or don’t do good work, that it was nice to get the call.”
How serious is Keisler about his work? He recently fired his brother-in-law from a job in which he was doing the electrical work.
“There was a mess on the floor after he finished working,” Keisler said. “It was there when I came back to the site. That’s not right. Going into a person’s home is like going into their sanctuary. You have to treat it like that. Always clean up after yourself.”
That’s just one of the lessons Keisler has for the right apprentice.
“A lot of people look at construction as something less than other fields of work,” Keisler said. “I’ve always been someone who can take anything apart and put anything together.
"My customers are 100 percent satisfied or I’ll make it right. If I do the work, it will be done right. That’s what I want to teach to someone else.”