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Diane Lewis

An interview with Diane Lewis, President and CEO
Action Facilities Management, Inc., Morgantown, W.Va.

Diane Lewis is the kind of success story everyone dreams of becoming. A single mother with two children, she founded Action Facilities Management in 2001 in the basement of her home and hired her 17-year-old son as secretary. Today the company has 162 employees and maintains accounts in nine states in addition to West Virginia. Lewis’ son now runs the company’s Washington D.C. office, and her daughter is head of the human resources department at the Morgantown headquarters.

Q: Tell us a little bit about Action Facilities Management.
A: It’s a site support contracting company. We provide security services in the federal sector. We also offer facilities management and property management warehousing such as mail distribution. We have a building maintenance interior and exterior division that covers janitorial services, grounds keeping, electrical, HVAC – those types of work.

Q: How did your company get started?
A: I used to work for another small business in the security field. The federal government at the time was downsizing and looking for ways to save money. I thought what they’re really looking for is one company that can help them with many services. When I began to plan my business model, I came up with “Action” because I wanted to be proactive in what we did … and the “Facilities Management” was encompassing all we would do for the clients. I started the company in 2001 and we’ve been growing ever since.

Q: What is special or unique about your business?
A: We’re pretty flexible to the needs of the facility, and often that’s what we get our compliments on. For example, if there is a water line break at one of the buildings where we’re doing security, we have maintenance personnel and we can take care of that, too. It really puts our clients at ease and they feel comfortable contacting one company.

Q: What are the advantages of doing business in West Virginia?
A: Morgantown is sort of a crossroads economically and geographically; we’re able to reach out to our markets quickly and it brings a wealth of opportunity into this area. We also have an excellent workforce. Without them, we would not enjoy the success that we have achieved today. So I’m always saying kudos to our employees, and I love telling people that we are from West Virginia.

Q: How has your company benefitted from West Virginia’s business climate?
A: Workers’ Comp privatization has helped us a lot, because the market is now more competitive. As a small business, you always try to look for the best opportunity for the money you’re spending. As far as the state’s fiscal management – it really feels good to know that West Virginia is one of the few states operating in the black when so many other states are in the red.

Q: Where do you see Action Facilities Management in the future?
A: In April 2011, we signed our first national contract with a commercial client. In 20 or 30 years, I could imagine that this company could be international, based on the reputation we have built here in the United States.

Q: On a personal level, what do you enjoy about living in West Virginia?
A: The friendliness of the people really makes a big difference. I think there’s good recreation here, especially with the proximity of West Virginia University. There’s always something going on where you can go into the community and be part of it. The education and health systems are very attractive, and this area is not congested like the big cities. It just feels comfortable to me.

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