Cleaning Company Goes Above and Beyond to Help ‘Create Better Communities’ Around West Louisville

It’s one thing for a company leader to say he wants to be a good corporate citizen. It’s quite another to do what Scott Koloms of Facilities Management Services (FMS) is doing.

Koloms says the company’s commitment is best summed in its motto: Good People, Clean Buildings, Better Communities. 

“At the end of the day we’re a cleaning company, but we’re nothing without our people,” he says. “We’re in the people business. Early on, we said we can win this ballgame if we get the best people, so we create an environment that’s going to attract the best people. Good people leads to clean buildings. Then the idea is taking it beyond there. We’re going to use those resources to create better communities.”

FMS was the first Louisville company to be designated a “B Corporation,” which requires a company to incorporate social and environmental mission goals into its business model.

Koloms took over the company, then based on Shelbyville, in 2001. At the time, he was an aspiring writer and teacher at Kent State in Ohio, working on a doctorate in literacy and rhetoric. Then his father passed away suddenly, and he took over a company with 30 employees, some debt, and very little working capital.

Today, FMS occupies a historic, 90,000-square-foot facility in the Portland neighborhood, has more than 800 employees, and contracts with some of the most important building managers, educational institutions, and corporations in Kentucky. With the growth has come a commitment to, as Koloms puts it, “do well by doing good.”

He says that having a social mission requires setting specific goals and then following through on them. The goals come as a result of employee surveys.

“We take our overall social mission, which is to provide access and opportunity to our front-line workers (janitors), and to help communities where they live and thrive,” he says. “That’s our overarching social mission. We take the info from the survey, filter it through our social mission, and we create specific measurable goals for the next two-year period.”

Since moving to Portland in 2016, FMS has picked up 600 pounds of garbage in neighborhood cleanups, partnered with several nonprofits, given 50 of its leaders new educational opportunities, and sponsored events including the Portland Art and Heritage Fair.

But Koloms says he’s most proud of a food program started in 2017 with New Roots, a Portland-based nonprofit focused on providing fresh food to residents. FSM created a Fresh Stop Market at its headquarters in which 30 employees can get enough fresh fruits and vegetables to feed a family of four for two weeks for just $5.

This year, Koloms is expanding the program to include all Portland residents and is working with other local companies on similar projects, including The Table restaurant, Heine Brothers, and Louisville Grows.

This vision of a for-profit company with a conscience began a while back when Koloms took company leaders “into the woods” for a retreat. That’s where the company’s core values were created, and the retreats continue to be the source for ideas.

“I call it working on the heart-space of the organization,” he says. “I spent a good part of the decade working on getting folks to care. We’re successful because we care about everybody else, and all else is a derivative of that.”

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