For 70 years KSS Enterprises has served Kalamazoo and the Great Lakes region as a premier distributor of facility supplies and equipment. In a product market of cleaning chemicals, equipment, parts, and supplies, it is KSS Enterprises’ different approach to business that has helped them be successful.
KSS Enterprises, which began as Kalamazoo Sanitary Supply, was started in downtown Kalamazoo in 1945. Since 1988 their corporate headquarters have been on Vine Street near Crosstown Parkway. In addition to the corporate facility they also have branch locations in Grand Rapids, Jackson, Petoskey, and Plymouth as well as South Bend, Ind.
KSS Enterprises is about more than just the products they distribute. The team at KSS helps make their customers’ facilities healthier and safer for employees and end users through education and training about the products they sell.
“We offer annual training expos, quarterly lunch-n-learn seminars, a cleaning cost analysis program, onsite training, and other avenues to help our customers be as effective as possible in their environment,” said Tom Hill, President of KSS. “It is our responsibility to make sure our customers know the best way to use the products we offer and to get the most out of their facility budget. We help our customers lower their overall cost to clean, while providing them with solutions to give them very effective results.”
KSS works with customers in showrooms at each of their locations as well as through the company’s 26 outside sales consultants who work with K-12 schools, universities, health care, and businesses throughout the Great Lakes region.
It is this unique approach that has helped the business grow from a team of eight employees in 1987 when the Hill family purchased KSS to their current staff of 89. Of the staff, 52 staff members are at the Kalamazoo corporate location. The staff is a diverse group of long-term and newer team members.
“We are very focused on selecting team members based on who is the best talent and fit for our culture; not someone based solely on experience,” Hill said. “This has allowed us to create a talented team that has greatly contributed to our success. We have seasoned veterans as well as millennials who are newer to our industry. Each team member brings a different perspective to our business and we learn as much from them as they do from us. It is a win-win situation and helps us to stay cutting edge.”
To accommodate this growth, KSS has recently purchased a facility near 9th Street and I-94 on Sports Drive in Kalamazoo to move their corporate headquarters. They are starting major renovations to turn the site into a world-class facility complete with an extensive showroom, training rooms, office spaces, service department, fitness area, and distribution center. Work is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2016.
“The decision to stay in Kalamazoo was an easy one,” Hill said. “The workforce in the area, the infrastructure, and the support and partnerships we have here made expanding in Kalamazoo a natural choice for us.”
KSS’ commitment to Kalamazoo goes beyond the workplace. The company provides some organized volunteer events such as maintaining a stretch of M-43 through Adopt-A-Highway and having a team volunteer annually at Ribfest.
They also encourage volunteerism outside of the sponsored events and track the numbers of hours team members give each month to organizations of their choosing. This donation of time is recognized on a monthly and annual basis.
Last year the KSS team gave 1,367 hours of their time to various organizations including the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, Kalamazoo Animal Rescue, YMCA, Kalamazoo Marathon, Goodwill Industries of Southwest Michigan, and many other local organizations.
“We have been so fortunate to call Kalamazoo home for 70 years,” Hill said. “The workforce, the business community, and the partnerships we have established in Kalamazoo have allowed us to become the company we are today. We feel very blessed and look forward to the next 70 years here.”
To learn more about KSS Enterprises or directions to their facilities, visit their website at kssenterprises.com.