Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Mark Borge. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Mark, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Let’s kick things off with your mission – what is it and what’s the story behind why it’s your mission?
Although our product is commercial janitorial services, our mission is to improve the quality of life for people, not just through a cleaner building, but through our client, employee, and other business relationships. We pursue win-win relationships with like-minded people. When there’s benefit for every one, relationships are strengthened and the quality of life increases for all involved. Employees win by participating in profits, clients win by receiving a quality service at the highest level of value, and vendors win by getting a long-term relationship that’s profitable for them as well. If you want to improve your balance sheet, improve your retained earnings. If you want to improve your retained earnings, improve your long-term bottom line profits. If you want to improve your profits, improve your business by improving relationships. Win-win relationships that serve all involved makes it happen.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
Steve Nobles, a long-term friend of mine, invited me to start a janitorial business about 17 years ago, as he had some success in that industry. We started Best Facility Services at zero in 2004, and built the business by surrounding ourselves with the highest level employees and vendor partners. With values that are in alignment, we gained ground consistently. In 2021 we became a part of The Facilities Group, a national network of partners which has expanded our bandwidth of resources and capabilities significantly. In addition to janitorial, we have a team of experts that specialize in all types of floor restoration and maintenance. We’ve been able to penetrate niche markets by offering the highest-end, long-term solutions for substrates such as natural stone, terrazzo, concrete and others. I’m most proud of our long-term relationships. We’ve had very minimal employee turnover as well as many long-term clients relationships. Even in the digital age, we still maintain a “boutique feel” where you can still reach our Account Managers who you can count on to solve problems and adapt to your changing environment. We claim “big company capability with small company flexibility”.
Can you talk to us about how your funded your business?
By nature, I’m a bootstrapper. When we first started Best Facility Services I opened a commercial checking account and deposited $4,000. I was determined to not have to insert any other personal money into the business or borrow. To pull this off I had to “earn my way into the business” by working another job to pay the home bills while also earnestly pursuing growth for the business. It took a couple of years, but the business finally reached a point where it could “afford me”. Over time, my compensation grew as the business grew, both in profits and in client base. We never borrowed, used any credit line (although we had access to one) or injected any cash into the business in our 17 years of operation and we’ve approached 8 figures in annual revenues. As we are now part of The Facilities Group, I believe we have the potential for substantial growth going forward.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
In my first go at business ownership I purchased a well-known printing franchise. We struggled, but broke even fairly quickly. We maintained our ground for a couple of years but it was hard for us to break out to the next level so I considered purchasing another (larger) company, a deal that kind of fell in my lap. It seemed to make a lot of sense but long story short, after a considerable time investment, the deal fell apart. Our business had declined from the diverted focus so I ended up “merging” with another franchise after disposing of (selling) most of the assets of mine. Little did I know that they were almost financially bankrupt. It got to the point where the bank came and shut the doors. I didn’t have ownership responsibility for the franchise but I was basically left with nothing. I got a sales job working in the printing industry so I could financially recover. Then, one day, a friend asked me if I’d be interested in starting a janitorial company with him…