Colker ribbon cutting

As founder Lynne Colker, center, prepared to cut the ceremonial ribbon, those gathered Friday to help her open the new Colker Janitorial Services warehouse near the Indiana County Jimmy Stewart Airport included her husband Alan, to her left, as well as their son and chief operating officer Greg Colker, company sales director Jeff Tishko and sales representative Kathy Marks, Indiana County Board of Commissioners Chairman R. Michael Keith and Indiana County Chamber of Commerce President Mark Hilliard.

An open house and ribbon-cutting celebrated Friday’s grand opening of the Colker Janitorial Supplies warehouse near the Indiana County Jimmy Stewart Airport in White Township.

“It’s a great story,” Alan Colker said. “She started the company.”

“She” is Colker’s wife of 58 years. In 1974, Lynne Colker purchased Samuel Westerman Import & Export, a small family-owned business founded in 1916 in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

The company became known as L.M. Colker Company Inc. and started out selling natural sea sponges and chamois cloths.

Then, according to the story as detailed on the colkerjanitorial.com website, Lynne Colker began to expand the sponge and chamois cloth business to include specialty cleaning products namely for window washers, commercial cleaners and small businesses.

A product more recently introduced is Steel City Melt Down ice melter, made for Colker in Cleveland, near Lake Erie.

It is a blend of calcium and magnesium chloride meant to melt ice that’s below zero degrees, with a corrosion inhibitor and reduced concrete spalling.

The business also expanded into a second office rented in the Johnstown area, which will be replaced by the new White Township warehouse, at 110 Raymond Drive. It will be open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The company remains a family-owned venture, involving the Colkers’ children, Sandy Hanberry and Greg Colker.

The company employs approximately 25 people, including two who live in Indiana County, four who commute from Johnstown and a salesperson that works with both White Township and Pittsburgh locations.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday brought out Indiana County Board of Commissioners Chairman R. Michael Keith and Indiana County Chamber of Commerce President Mark Hilliard. Hilliard said the chamber hopes to hold one of its “After Hours” sessions there in the spring or summer next year.