This spring, Corporate Floors Inc., the parent company of APEX Surface Care, became a public benefit corporation. In doing so, we’ve joined the ranks of other innovative companies like Plum Organics, Kickstarter and Patagonia that have publicly and officially declared their commitment to the greater social good.
Public benefit corporations are relatively new to the scene. Currently 34 states have passed benefit corporation legislation, starting with Maryland back in 2010. When Texas began allowing businesses to incorporate as public benefit corporations in 2017, we knew we wanted to amend our legal documents and join this growing movement.
So what exactly is a public benefit corporation? Basically, public benefit corporations are for-profit entities that conduct business while considering both shareholders and stakeholders, including the community at large. We aren’t focused on earning as much money as possible. We don’t want to grow our bottom line at any expense. Our vision isn’t so narrowly defined that we can’t see the opportunities before us to make the world a better place.
We’re a business, but we’re about more than business.
Do we want to earn a profit? Of course. We have bills to pay and employees to support. But we don’t need to put all of our profit back into the company. As a public benefit corporation, we invest part of our profit into our social mission. As stated in our newly amended legal documents, there are three main components of our social mission:
1. Advancing environmental sustainability initiatives through waste reduction and innovations in carpet and post-construction recycling. Americans get rid of about 5 billion pounds of carpet each year—and much, if not most, of that ends up in a landfill. We’re committed to environmental stewardship. It starts with excellent commercial carpet cleaning and restoration, so the flooring lasts longer before needing replacement. To take things a step further, 12 years ago we created Texas Carpet Recycling, the state’s first and only commercial carpet recycling company. We divert everything possible, and we help our clients donate materials they can’t use to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. In 2009, we instituted the first “zero carpet to landfill” policy in Texas, and we remain committed to disposing of old carpet in a socially responsible, environmentally safe manner and leading the way with innovations in this area.
2. Advancing and fostering external initiatives or organizations providing professional development assistance to women in the facilities and property management industry. In 2008, we brought together a group of women facility managers attending the International Facility Management Association’s World Workplace. What began as a collegial lunch turned into the formation of an organization dedicated to facilitating better learning, advancement and networking opportunities for women in the industry. Women in Facility Management (WIFM) is now a 501(c)(3), board-run organization, and we’re proud to have supported it since its inception over a decade ago. We’ll continue to do our part to help women excel in the facilities and property management industry.
3. Advancing and fostering opportunities for our employees and the communities in which they work. We strongly believe in giving back to our community and offering opportunities for our employees to do the same. Through the APEX Employee Giving Fund, we give each employee money to donate to their favorite charitable cause, allowing for additional company matching opportunities. To date tens of thousands of dollars have been distributed through the fund. In 2018, the company paid out more than $300,000 in employee bonuses to all levels of our team. We celebrate and help support amazing organizations such as the Gatehouse Grapevine, Red Nose Day, Together We Rise, American Forests and more. We doubled down on our community commitment when, in 2017, we set a goal of donating 5 percent of pre-tax profits to the communities where we work.
None of these activities are new. Our social mission has been an integral part of our company since day one. But as a public benefit corporation, not only are we now allowed to put social responsibility above profit, but also are we obligated to do so. And we are more than happy to meet that obligation.
Our core business remains to provide expert solution-based surface maintenance and restoration, including professional commercial floor maintenance, hardwood floor care, furniture and textile cleaning, professional tile and grout cleaning, and stone and terrazzo repair and cleaning. But our ultimate goal is to create an environment in which our families, our clients and our communities can flourish. We look forward to continuing to work toward this goal and encouraging more businesses to operate in an ethical, socially responsible manner.