by KIM HILSENBECK
When Tom Jenkins was laid off in 2011 from Simon Property Group, owners of the Prime Outlet in San Marcos, he wanted to find a way to help others who had also lost their jobs.
“There were two people I really wanted to put back to work,” Jenkins said.
After 40 years in facility management, ending as vice president and director of operations with Simon, Jenkins wanted to stay with what he knew while also helping others.
Jenkins and his wife started Colyer Cleaning in 2011. The firm, based in Driftwood, is founded on two simple premises: using green cleaning products and practices, and putting people back to work.
Colyer Cleaning is a certified Green Clean Industry firm, one of only 1,500 hundred worldwide and a handful in Central Texas.
Within months of starting up, Jenkins was able to put one his former colleagues back to work and get her off unemployment benefits. The same thing happened for one of his daughters. Other employees have come from unemployment rolls though the Texas Workforce Commission.
Colyer Cleaning now employs nine people, with plans to grow. Several employees are full-time and receive benefits like paid time off, medical insurance and profit sharing.
“Our employees were shocked when they got checks at the end of the year,” Jenkins said. “Now they understand that the more we make, they more they make.”
Once the company was on its way, Jenkins started looking for ways to give back to the community.
“I saw a lot of people doing things for wounded warriors,” Jenkins said. “I wanted to find something like that for my firm.”
In his search, he came across the website for Cleaning for Heroes. The nonprofit, based in Rhode Island, is dedicated to providing no-cost house cleaning services to disabled and elderly U.S. veterans.
A Vietnam War Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient himself, Jenkins knew that was the right choice.
Since he connected with Cleaning for Heroes, Jenkins said his firm has cleaned the homes of two disabled elderly vets and one disabled EMS worker; their homes were in Kyle, Buda and Dripping Springs.
“We just go and do what we can. They are very grateful. Some even cried after we did the work,” Jenkins said.