Jake Shoff started a successful venture right out of college. He shut it down after a very painful loss--one that led him to an entirely different business and the thriving, Draper, Utah-based company he runs today. --As told to Noah Davis
After I graduated from Brigham Young University in 2004, I started a construction company in Orem, Utah, with a good friend of mine, Josh. The first few years, things were great. Then Josh had a really bad car accident. He fell into a depression, and started to struggle with prescription pain pills.
I got concerned after the birth of my first son, when Josh asked if he could have my wife's pain medication. And I remember coming into the office and seeing powder on his desk. At first, I didn't know what it was. But after seeing it many times, and noticing Josh's dramatic mood swings--along with his being unreachable for hours at a time--everything clicked. I asked Josh on multiple occasions if there was anything I could do. He'd say, "Yes, I need help."
But I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to help him. Josh never went to rehab. He committed suicide in February 2007, 16 months after his accident. After he died, I fought to keep the construction business open. But I shut it down after a few months. I found a treatment company that needed help restructuring its business. I fell in love with the individuals and families getting help. This stigma that drug addicts are bad people--I learned, in fact, the opposite is true. The one struggling with this disease is stronger than most. I co-founded a facility in Midway, Utah, and we grew it.
Two and a half years in, however, my partner and I had differences about the company--how the facilities should look and what I did. And there were issues with profits and management. I sold my interest to him, and Troy Jolley and I started our own recovery and treatment center--the Phoenix--in June 2012, with a small amount of money, a van, and some furniture.
We don't have the big residential facilities that some of our competitors have. In most residential programs, people stay for a standard of 90 days, and then leave with little follow-up, because that's how a facility makes the most money. All the research and data prove that's not the way to treat this population, and ours isn't like that. We treat people on an inpatient basis for 30 to 45 days, and then for another 60 to 75 days, Monday through Friday, while they live at home or in a sober house. Then we treat them for up to six months in our intensive outpatient program.
Insurance companies love that model because that's what's proved most effective: Treating people in that way often helps them not have to pay for it again. Building partnerships with insurance companies is one of the reasons we've grown like we have. We started with one center in 2012. We have six now, mostly in and around Salt Lake City. We're opening two more in the next six months.
I absolutely, 100 percent, think a place like the Phoenix could have helped Josh.