When Thomas Holland opened the first location of what is now APEX Group in 1997, he didn’t know he was founding a company that would eventually offer a full suite of commercial interiors solutions. Neither did he know he was founding a company that would go on to serve some of the nation’s most well-known brands. He was simply opening a carpet cleaning franchise with the hope of building a successful business that always put the customer first.
“At the time, my goal was to build a company that operated differently than others. I’ve always felt that it was important to find out what our competitors were doing so we could do the opposite,” Holland said. “I wanted us to ride our own wave rather than try to ride what the market was doing.”
And what a wave it has been. Today, APEX Group is a family of brands that operates four distinct lines of business, including commercial flooring installation (Corporate Floors), specialty surface care (APEX Surface Care), custodial services (APEX Property Services), and elevator interior design and installation (The Elevated Cab). As the company celebrates its 25th anniversary, Holland is proud that APEX Group has remained true to his original intent.
“The one thing that has not changed is our purpose, and that is to deliver delight,” Holland said. “As long as we keep that in the forefront, I’m confident that we can be successful no matter where the future takes us.”
In the Beginning
APEX Group, then known as Corporate Floors, began as a franchise of MilliCare, a commercial floor and textile care company. The company’s first two clients were Dallas Love Field Airport and a Sprint call center in Fort Worth. Holland and his small team were kept busy in those early days.
“We were cleaning floors at night and selling and doing the business administrative work during the day,” he said. “We worked a lot of long hours.”
The company soon expanded into flooring installation, working directly with carpet mills, and began serving clients in Austin, Houston and San Antonio.
“One of the things that has contributed to APEX Group’s longevity is our ability to change and be the resource that our customers are looking for,” said APEX Surface Care Vice President of Sales John Davern, who has been with APEX Group since 2004.
Business really took off in 2010 with the purchase of Dallas-based ReSource Flooring Group. Other acquisitions soon followed, and by 2017, the company had grown so much that its maintenance division was split off into its own brand, APEX Surface Care. The company exited the MilliCare franchise system that same year.
“Becoming independent allowed us to grow unfettered and use our collective imagination to build a unique brand,” Holland said.
Challenges and Changes
APEX Group has experienced its share of challenges over the years. Holland launched the company right before the dot-com bubble burst in the late 1990s. When 9/11 occurred just a few years later, the company was physically located inside Love Field Airport and had to scramble to relocate. The Great Recession followed less than a decade after that. And, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down offices across the globe, marking a particularly difficult period for a company that offers commercial interiors services.
“Of the last 25 years, the last three have been the most challenging,” Holland said. “COVID affected every corner of the globe, and the commercial interiors industry is still feeling the impact today. This is largely influenced by the changing office landscape as companies adopt a mix of return-to-office and work-from-home policies as well as the impact the world economy is having on certain sectors of the economy.”
Luckily, APEX Group was nimble. The company pivoted to focus on its infection control services, which it had been offering for more than a decade. APEX Group disinfected more than 50 million square feet of space for companies across the United States during the pandemic, including many essential businesses. It also established the Community Giveback Program to provide pro bono cleaning and disinfecting services to nonprofits, including women’s shelters, family and child crisis centers, homeless shelters and food banks.
“We were proud to maintain our pre-pandemic pricing for disinfection throughout COVID,” Holland said. “Many other companies were taking advantage of businesses during their time of need.”
APEX Group reached another milestone in 2020 when it earned its designation as a Certified B Corporation. This achievement validated and solidified the company’s commitment to operating ethically and empathically as a leader in sustainability and social responsibility in the industry. The company also received its ISSA Cleaning Industry Management Standard–Green Building (CIMS-GB) certification with honors. Today, APEX Group is the only MBE, B Corp and CIMS ISSA-GB certified company in its field.
“We have grown the fastest over the last few years, more than doubling our headcount and expanding into new services and markets,” Holland said. “We used the last couple of years in particular to retrench and reinvest in the company while dramatically increasing our communication with our teams via monthly town hall meetings.”
Core Values and Core Strengths
Indeed, practicing open, real communication is one of the company’s core values. APEX Group prides itself on living and breathing its core values, which also include having a positive, can-do attitude; being passionate about doing the right thing; being resilient and resourceful; and playing as a team.
“People may join companies for opportunities, but they stay because they feel a part of something bigger. At APEX Group, our core values are truly central to who we are and how we approach the business,” said Corporate Floors Vice President of Sales Stacy Murphy. “There is no better testament to the longevity of a business than the longevity of its people within the company. The number of employees who have 10 to 15 years of tenure here is incredible.”
Candice Rowe, executive vice president of corporate services, concurs. “At the end of the day, we know the most important aspect of our company is our people and our core values,” Rowe said. “We are all empowered to make the best decisions on behalf of the company, and we are all personally invested and genuinely care about our work family and the success of the business.”
APEX Group’s commitment to its core values has allowed it to build and sustain long-term relationships with clients across the country. The company has earned preferred vendor status with a global third-party facility management company and cared for millions of square feet of horizontal and vertical surfaces for image-conscious Fortune 1000 clients across the corporate, medical, industrial and airport sectors. APEX Group is best known for working with commercial clients that are seeking to create and maintain world-class environments for their own employees.
“The single biggest reason for our long-term success, in my opinion, is we do what we say we are going to do,” said Davern.
APEX Group has achieved a number of notable successes over the years. These include being recognized as an Inc. 5000 greenest company in 2010 and earning a place on the Dallas Morning News’ list of Top 100 Places to Work in 2014. In 2018, the company completed one of its largest projects to date when it diamond-honed over 3 million square feet of terrazzo in Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
“The terrazzo project was a game changer,” said Corporate Floors President Jim Burns. “It allowed us to add to our services and grow beyond traditional corporate carpet and tile maintenance.”
More recently, Corporate Floors won the Gold Award in the mixed-use development category at the 2022 Starnet Design Awards for its work on Watermere at Southlake, a luxury senior living community in northeast Texas. These successes have helped APEX Group earn a well-deserved reputation for quality work.
“It’s easy to sell on a low price,” said Senior Account Executive Kathy Edwards. “We sell on value and results.”
What Lies Ahead
While it’s impossible to predict the future, the APEX Group team agrees: The best is yet to come.
“We have a compelling business model run by a remarkable team—and we're only getting stronger,” Murphy said. “In the next 25 years, I believe APEX Group will be the dominant brand in the commercial interiors space.”
“If the past is prologue, I envision APEX Group will be an employee-owned company operating in 20+ offices across the country and performing services and using tools only in our imagination now,” said Vice President of Strategic Accounts Erik Lind.
Holland is excited to see where APEX Group goes next—with or without his leadership.
“My goal has always been to build a company that would operate and survive my own involvement. But I'm only 52, and I still have a lot of energy to keep growing the business,” Holland said. “I expect in the next 10 years, APEX Group will continue to be a growing, diverse, public benefit company focused on the delivery of world-class commercial interior services across a super-regional footprint with a passion for advancing opportunities for our team, our communities and the industry.”