Cleaning Up: High-profile building signals new beginning for janitorial supplier KSS

The new location on U.S. 31 South near Menards will be the company’s largest distribution hub. KSS started life as Kalamazoo Sanitary Supply Company in 1945 in downtown Kalamazoo.

It’s almost moving time for KSS Enterprises, the distributor and retailer of janitorial supplies, food service supplies and cleaning equipment. The company’s massive new building at 4644 U.S. 31 South in Blair Township is nearing completion.

When it’s finished, KSS will move from its current location at 3820 Cass Rd., which it shares with ProFILE, the business record and information management solution company.

It’s a big move and a big building: 40,000 square feet with very high ceilings. Not only that, but the site itself is generously sized at 5.5 acres. Jennifer Pollock, the company’s marketing director, said that acreage will allow for potential future expansion.

KSS moved into the Traverse City market when it purchased Grand Traverse Packaging in 2018. Its headquarters is in Kalamazoo and it has offices scattered throughout the state, including Grand Rapids, Jackson, Midland, Westland, Petoskey and Sault Ste. Marie, as well as South Bend, Ind. The new Traverse City location will be its largest distribution hub.

The company services numerous industries and customers, including schools, the food industry, healthcare facilities, the hospitality industry and others.

“We chose the location on U.S. 31 for greater visibility and convenience for our customers,” said Pollock.

It also services retail customers. Pollock said the move will enable it to service that side of its business much better as it will have a greatly expanded showroom.

KSS started life as Kalamazoo Sanitary Supply Company in 1945 in downtown Kalamazoo. It changed its name to KSS Enterprises in 1994 to better represent the business as it had grown to more than a supply company. In addition to supplies, the company rents out equipment from auto-scrubbers to floor machines, carpet extractors and more.

Over the last 25 years, the company pursued an aggressive growth strategy, purchasing other similar businesses as it expanded its footprint. The company has 126 employees, 13 of whom are based in the Traverse City location. Pollock said it is likely that number could grow locally.

“We are currently expanding and looking for a sales consultant; as we grow we will be continuing to add new positions,” said Pollock.

The building will house its local supply warehouse, a greatly expanded showroom and offices. In addition, its size will also allow it to serve as a location for two other companies owned by KSS: a commercial flooring distribution company and a food service supplies and equipment distribution company.

Peninsula Construction is the contractor for the building project. According to Pollock, the building is expected to be completed in late March or early April.

Pollock said the company’s business model and expanded offerings have helped it survive and even build business over the past couple years.

“We’ve had steady business and growth even during the pandemic. We have always worked with our customers to help them find the best solutions for maintaining clean and healthy facilities to keep their employees and customers safe,” she said.

Given the concerns about transmission of the COVID virus, Pollock said such cleaning and safety measure have become paramount concerns for its clients, both in industries such as restaurants and schools, as well as individual retail customers.

“During the pandemic, that became even more important and our team continues to work with their customers on best practices, the correct products and finding solutions to help them be more efficient and effective with increased cleaning – often (with) less resources,” she said.

Pollock said because of its size and resources, the company is able to offer a wide variety of products and training to help customers mitigate the impact of the pandemic. That includes not only cleaning products, but personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, face shields, digital thermometers and hand sanitizer.

“That obviously has been very valuable to our customers,” she said.