Pandemic Led Man To Empty Savings, Start Business In Alabama

FORT MITCHELL, Ala. (AP) — When COVID-19 hit in 2020, Nickolas Folmar combined his customer service experience and his father’s history in the carpet cleaning business to start fresh.

Folmar was ready for a change and wanted to start his own business after working the 9-to-5 life — so along came Jet Stream Clean. The commercial and residential carpet cleaning company operates out of Fort Mitchell, Alabama, and services the Chattahoochee Valley.

“COVID-19 changed everything,” Folmar said. “It changed me from being an employee to an owner. It changed my whole aspect on survival.”

STARTING FROM SCRATCH, AND TAKING A GAMBLE

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down operations at his previous employer, a janitorial consulting company.

“It forced me to think out-of-the-box,” Folmar told the Ledger-Enquirer.

So he asked himself, among other things, “What am I good at? How can I survive? How can I spend more time with my family?”

Then he remembered that his father ran a small carpet cleaning business, where Folmar would help from time to time. Entrepreneurship “runs in our blood,” he said.

In September 2020, Folmar took a risk: He emptied his savings to open his own carpet cleaning business, Jet Stream Clean.

The company will celebrate its one-year anniversary this month and won Favorite Carpet Cleaner in this year’s L-E Readers’ Choice Awards, the newspaper’s annual recognition of its readers’ favorite businesses in the Columbus area.

“A lot of it is surreal,” Folmar said. “I didn’t know how this was gonna turn out. It was pretty scary. I went into my savings and drained it. ... I went out there in a world with barely any money in hand. We took a huge risk, honestly.”

He bought brand-new equipment, he said, to bring “maximum results” to his customers — and he says he hasn’t lost a single one he’s acquired.

“When you provide an excellent service, you give the customer an experience,” Folmar said. “And that experience is what we like to focus on.”

BIG PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

Folmar runs a tight, family-focused operation.

His wife, Jessica creates TikToks and posts them to the business’ various social media platforms. His son, Landon, handles the electronic side of things. Folmar is the operator, in addition to owning the business.

“I said, ‘I’m gonna make sure that we are different,’” Folmar said. “You can call anyone to come in your house and clean carpet. ... I’m not trying to just give a service. Anyone can do that.”

Folmar said his next goal is to add another service vehicle. He also aims to eventually open a retail shop to sell janitorial products, and to offer rug cleaning services.

“It’s life-changing for me,” Folmar said. “Because I would’ve never done this. I had an opportunity. I already had money saved up. But nobody depletes their savings just to go out and take a risk. ... You’ve got to be in control of your own destiny if you’re ever going to be happy and successful and have that time with your family. That’s what gave me the confidence to go out and do it.”