In 2001, Scott Koloms became President of FMS when his father, Jerry Koloms, passed away unexpectedly. Jerry believed in being kind and was always quick with a joke and a smile and he instilled these values in his son, Scott. From 1998-2001, Scott taught writing while working towards his MA and Ph.D. at the University of Louisville and Kent State University, respectively. His passion for teaching and developing people didn’t leave as he began leading the 30 people that made up the FMS team in 2001. Without really knowing it, Koloms and a core group of FMS leaders, including Cathy Russell, Wendell Parks, Shirley Bean, Don May and Mae Bray, began to develop a culture of enrichment, access, and opportunity for all FMS employees: many of whom relied on government provided services for help and didn’t see many opportunities for professional and personal development.
For nine years, primarily relying on instinct and a strong belief that all people have strengths and room for improvement, FMS leaders created an inclusive work environment where folks from all walks of life sat at the FMS decision-making table. FMS challenged those folks to think bigger and FMS challenged itself to learn how to engage people coming from diverse educational, economic, and social backgrounds. In hindsight, the sometimes bumpy path allowed for the creation of the undeniably strong foundation FMS has now: a foundation that includes clear values, a core group of wise, experienced leaders, and loads of mutual respect and love.
By 2011, FMS had 350 employees and our growth put a strain on the cohesiveness of our team. The addition of so many new people in such a short time allowed us to see the need for a more formalized conceptualization of our values and strengths. We realized that we could no longer place more and more burden on the same core group of people. And we realized that in order for us to continue our growth, while retaining the values that made us so successful, which were still instinctual—not formalized, we needed to make those values and ways of doing business clear. We needed to reflect in order to move forward. In the Fall of that year, FMS held its first Leadership Retreat with the goal of determining what it was that allowed us to grow and succeed so rapidly. Specifically, we asked ourselves “What is so special about FMS?” “Why are we succeeding where others aren’t?” “What things do we need to make sure we hold on to as we grow in the future?”
The weekend retreat produced the FMS Core Values. Our leaders were unanimous in deciding upon our number one core value: “I care about the people working with me.” Our other 7 core values, modified over time, were all derivative of the number one core value.
The FMS Core Values are:
CORE VALUE #1: I care about the people working with me. I am compassionate.
CORE VALUE #2: I stay positive!
CORE VALUE #3: I always get better.
CORE VALUE #4: I am available and responsive.
CORE VALUE #5: I keep my word.
CORE VALUE #6: I know face-to-face communication is a key to success.
CORE VALUE #7: I get it done right, today.
CORE VALUE #8: I know we will succeed as a team.
So, how does all this translate into a successful Business Model?
Talking about values and living your values are two different things. FMS spent considerable time teaching our people what our core values meant and how to enact our values while working. We also made sure to recognize the folks that consistently displayed our values through their actions. The more time we spent talking about, teaching and modeling our values, the more we saw people acting them out. Once we felt that we were on track when it came to teaching and recognizing our values, we began to think about how we could fit these values into the way we did business.
We set out to create a clear, simple and effective business plan grounded in our values. Simply put, our line of thinking was as follows:
- The greatest difficulty in the janitorial business is employee turnover. Low wages, lack of opportunity and development, the way many people treat janitors and the exclusively profit-driven mentality of so many janitorial businesses leads to unhappy employees that feel like their work isn’t important and that people don’t value them as people.
- At its root, a janitorial company is in the people business. Upwards of 85% of every dollar a janitorial company brings in goes to or at least should go to, its people.
- Unhappy people, people that aren’t given training, people that don’t have the opportunity, people that aren’t cared for, and people that don’t want to be doing the work they’re doing don’t give their best effort.
- We asked ourselves a simple question: Would we rather have employees working for FMS solely because they have to, because they need a paycheck or would we rather have employees working for FMS, at least partially, because they want to work for FMS? The common sense answer is that we would rather have people that want to work for FMS. So, the next question became “What are we doing to encourage people to want to work for FMS?”
- With these facts in mind, FMS decided that the fundamental question should be “What can we do for our people?”
We decided to survey our employees in order to identify what they want from an employer.
- To work with our customers to allow for higher wages and bonus opportunities for our janitors.
- To work with outside groups in an effort to provide opportunities for our janitors.
- To think of programs that would show our folks that we, as an organization, as leaders, truly care.
- To formalize our development processes in an effort to promote as many people as possible from within FMS.
One of greatest challenges in the janitorial industry, much like many service-related industries, is dealing with employee turnover and we feel strongly that people will respond to our social efforts by showing allegiance to FMS and its customers. And our efforts have worked. FMS reduced company turnover by 15% from 2015-2016 and year to date turnover for 2017 is at 40%.
According to BSCAI (Business Services Contractors Association) the janitorial industry average upwards of 250% turnover.
FMS: A Public Benefit Corporation and a Certified B-Corp
Facilities Management Services, Inc. (FMS), became Louisville’s first certified B-Corp on November 10, 2016. FMS is the first janitorial service in the world to become a certified B-Corp.
Certified B Corporations are leaders of a global movement of people using business as a force for good™. They meet the highest standards of overall social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability and aspire to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. There are more than 1,800 Certified B Corporations in over 120 industries and 50 countries with 1 unifying goal – to redefine success in business.
Becoming a certified BCORP has been a great experience of validation for our folks at FMS who have worked hard for so many years to create the FMS culture. The tenets of BCORP are not new to our organization. We have been an employee-centered business since our inception and our folks have always had a heart for service to their communities. BCORP gave what we are doing a name, gave us the language to explain our business model to others. It has also offered us the opportunity to share our business model with like-minded businesses in understanding how utilizing our own resources helps our employees and our communities. It pushes positive social change forward, it lessens the financial stress of social issues on government and nonprofit programs that struggle with resources and sustainability, and it’s just good for business. People want to partner with other people who are doing the right thing.
Our new model of service is serving our communities, our people, our customers and the well-being of our own company.
Our Business Model
What began as an intuitive, employee-centered approach to running a janitorial service has developed into a sophisticated, cutting-edge way of doing business. Simply put, FMS believes that by successfully executing a clearly defined social mission, designed to help the folks that work for us and the communities where they live, we’re more likely to get and keep the best cleaners which result in cleaner buildings, happier customers and the success of our business.
We measure and hold folks accountable for the execution of our social mission the same way we measure and hold folks accountable for employee engagement, successful operations, and profitability.
Positive Social Impact
FMS is intentional about executing our social impact programs and we recognize our responsibility to the communities in which we work. We partner with community-based organizations and support programs for clean environments, personal health and welfare, and neighborhood development. FMS keeps its employees involved through a volunteer program where team members get paid to serve in their communities.
FMS continuously develops and implements programs designed to make the experience of our front-line workers better by providing opportunities, incentives, recognition and making the work easier.
FMS Mission Statement: FMS will use its financial, human and physical resources to ease suffering and promote the well-being of our employees and the citizens of our communities by providing people with educational, wellness, cultural and developmental opportunities and by being responsible environmental stewards.
What is the FMS Mission?
FMS embraces a mission-driven business model unique to the janitorial industry. Our mission is to use our resources to serve our employees by providing educational and professional development opportunities, as well as access to cultural, social, and volunteer experiences, in order to build a manageable and supportive path towards individual growth and community engagement. FMS and FMS’ customers will receive the benefits of a happier, more motivated and committed workforce and the gratification that accompanies contributing to the well-being of others. By successfully executing our mission, FMS will continue to thrive as a viable, successful for-profit business.
What is a Mission-Driven Business?
A mission-driven business is an organization for which the pursuit of growth and revenue naturally produces mission-related benefits. The financial success of FMS allows us to provide more and more educational and development opportunities for our employees and allows us to pursue initiatives to benefiting our community and environmental causes. Our profit and our social missions go hand-in-hand.