In June, FMS purchased the A.L. Ball office building and warehouse at 226 N. 15th St. for its new headquarters. At that time, it also acquired the A.L. Ball business from former owner Wendel Ball, whose family started the business 85 years ago.
A.L. Ball provides moving services for residential, commercial and military clients. It also stores household products and company records.
The business and building together cost FMS about $625,000, said FMS president and owner Scott Koloms.
When Koloms decided to buy a new headquarters building for FMS, he said he knew what neighborhood he wanted to relocate to — he just didn’t realize it would be a package deal.
“We are tired of paying rent,” Koloms said. And “we saw this momentum building in Portland.”
For those who haven’t read or watched the news in a few years, a revitalization effort has gotten off the ground in the west Louisville neighborhood of Portland. It is spearheaded by developer and businessman Gill Holland, the driving force behind NuLu.
“We intentionally chose the Portland neighborhood due to revitalization efforts,” said Koloms, who described FMS as a private business with a social enterprise aspect. Helping with the Portland efforts by moving there falls in line with that mission.
The company also sponsors various organizations and events around Louisville and offers employees a 90-day mentorship program and access to financial planning classes, he said, among other benefits.
FMS currently is based out of a rented space on Bishop Lane and has satellite offices in New Albany, Shelbyville and Lexington. The latter two offices will remain open, but the fate of the New Albany office is undecided. Koloms said he might consolidate the New Albany operations in the Portland building as well.
FMS will move out of its Bishop Lane office this summer after the 15th Street building is renovated. The company will spend between $500,000 and $1 million, Koloms said.
He has filed plans with the city to demolish 6,780 square feet of warehouse space and construct a parking lot with six spaces and a rainwater retention basin to keep some rain from flooding the Metropolitan Sewer District system.
Koloms said he also plans to refurbish the interior and install windows that look like they are turn-of-the-century to pay homage to the fact that the building was constructed before 1900.
Looking further down the line, Koloms said he is looking into expanding A.L. Ball’s operations to include high-security storage for businesses such as law firms that need to store legal documents.
“That is down the road” though, he said. “The primary focus is to get us into that building.”
Koloms’ father Jerry Koloms started FMS in the late 1990s after buying Shelbyville, Ky.-based janitorial firm JANCON using a small-business loan.
“If you had a pulse, I think they gave you a small-business loan,” Koloms said, describing the economic boom that characterized Bill Clinton’s presidency.
His father died about 18 months later, and Koloms left Kent State University where he was pursuing a doctorate in literacy and rhetoric to take over the business.
What started as a business with about 30 employees has now grown to more than 800, with a client list that includes United Parcel Service, Bellarmine University, Mercer and the New Albany Floyd County Consolidated School Corp.