Talented executive leads Orkin’s North American commercial division to new heights thanks to a combination of passion and hard work.
When a true natural comes along, people take note, and many in the industry have noticed Gary Muldoon. A former mine laborer and service technician, Muldoon has steadily climbed the industry ranks, exhibiting a stellar business sense along the way. He’s currently using his talent to grow Orkin’s $300 million commercial pest control division in North America, as well as the company’s $68 million PCO Canada operation.
The outlook couldn’t be brighter for the devoted leader, team builder and customer advocate. Those who know him agree: Muldoon perpetuates a culture that raises the bar and the bottom line for the entire Orkin organization.
FINDING HIS PASSION
Gary Muldoon was born one of seven children in Sudbury, Ontario, a small town of about 50,000 residents where his father, Albert, worked at the INCO mine. Muldoon’s mother, Rita, taught fifth and sixth grade and kept the family focused on education. "In Sudbury, at that time you either got an education and moved out, or you worked in the mines," Muldoon explains. "I worked two summers in the mine as a student and decided it was not something I wanted to do."
After high school Muldoon attended Cambrian College in Sudbury, majoring in business administration, and also began working in inventory control at the Pepsi-Cola plant, alongside lifelong friend, Edward Jonik. "Right off the bat, as kids we had very responsible jobs, running the warehouse, which involved making sure all of the trucks were loaded and all of the guys had their routes in order," Jonik said.
While at Pepsi-Cola, Muldoon also observed a service technician named Andy Greenwood of PCO Services. "The work he was doing looked interesting," recalls Muldoon. "He was talking to the production people, the shipping people and many others in the plant."
Jonik also recalled when pest control first piqued Gary’s interest. "I remember Gary watching the (service technician) and saying, ‘Now, there’s a friggin good job. He treats the plant, writes an invoice and jumps back in the company car. Meanwhile we are busting our backs loading trucks.’"
Soon thereafter, Muldoon started to think about a possible career change. "I got to know Andy and we became friends. He asked me if I would be interested in working for PCO Services of Canada." Muldoon joined the company in 1975 and worked as a technician for four years.
"My first experience in pest control was running half a route in Sudbury and half a route in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario," Muldoon recalls. He would spend two weeks in each city, which are 180 miles apart, doing mostly commercial work, but if a residential customer needed help, "I would do that, too."
He handled a lot of food service and hospitality accounts, as well as industrial facilities such as lumber companies, mills, and mines. "It was interesting work," says Muldoon. "Once at the Creighton mine, I went 3,500 feet underground to take care of a rat problem."
Meeting new people was the best part of the job. "You would have up to 200 clients on an average route," he explains. "You might get to know and speak with 25 people at one grocery store. Everywhere you went people knew you were the PCO man."
Muldoon had found his passion. "I like working with people and doing different things. At the Pepsi facility, it was noisy with the machinery, forklifts, bottles and trucks. Break time was really the only time to talk with people. I can remember just waiting for the siren to sound so I could talk. I decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to be in control of my destiny."
He also was a natural at sales, which came as no surprise to many who know Muldoon, including Edward Jonik. "Sales agreed with Gary and I could understand why. He is a personable, hard-working and a well-liked guy." This knack for sales came in handy at PCO Services, which didn’t have full-time salespeople for the smaller towns in which Muldoon worked, instead relying on technicians to bring in new business. He regularly was a member of the company’s Toppers Club for high-performance salespeople, earning two trips to Jamaica in four years.
TALENT FOR GROWTH
In 1979 PCO Services opened an office in Barrie, Ontario, and asked Muldoon to manage it. Within two years, it was the top branch in the country, winning this honor two out of four years. "Our central focus was on growth by gaining new customers, retaining others and selling additional services to existing customers," recalls Muldoon. "We really focused on that as a team. We made sales fun." An amazing feat, considering the branch had no full-time sales people at the time. Muldoon offered prizes and awards, concentrated on employee retention, and developed long-term relationships with customers. Buoyed by a robust economy, the branch grew exponentially.
A longtime industry colleague of Muldoon has been Michael Howe, president of NPD Products. Howe used to own West Dale Pest Control, a large Toronto-based company that eventually sold to PCO Services, so Howe and Muldoon started off as competitors. "Gary and I would both chase the same accounts and it was always a challenge because Gary was constantly introducing different programs and identifying additional revenue streams," Howe recalls.
Howe also observed that Muldoon had a talent for the operational side of pest control, skills which were first developed as a technician and later honed as a manager. "Gary has the ability to come into a company and sort through the quality stuff a company does and what they are doing that isn’t making money," he said. "He’ll do his due diligence in evaluating how a company performs, and then is able to implement changes that result in true cost savings."
Then-PCO Services President David Smith also noticed Muldoon’s talent for growing business. In 1983, Muldoon was named general sales manager for the company’s Toronto office, where he directed a full-time sales staff and technicians. In 1985, he was named general manager of operations for Ontario, and two years later became vice president of operations Canada-wide.
Muldoon has survived two acquisitions in his career, learning valuable business lessons along the way. In 1987, PCO Services was purchased by S.C. Johnson, one of the world’s largest consumer products companies.
The acquisition made sense on paper, but reality often is a different story. Muldoon soon came to realize PCO Services and S.C. Johnson just didn’t fit. "We were still using DOS computers," Muldoon recalls. "I would go to management and say we need to upgrade the system. They would say, ‘Yeah, but we’re not sure about the future of PCO Services of Canada.’" The argument was, why invest if we’re going to sell? He got similar responses when he wanted to run a national advertising campaign. "It was frustrating," says Muldoon, who reported to 11 different managers in 10 years. "They liked us, but they didn’t know what to do with us. We didn’t fit into their corporate structure."
THE ORKIN FAMILY
Muldoon had heard rumors of Orkin’s interest in PCO Services. Orkin negotiated with S.C. Johnson for two years, acquiring the firm for $25 million in late 1999. "Prior to the acquisition, I didn’t know much about Orkin as they had a small presence in Canada," says Muldoon, who then was senior operations manager. "Glen [Rollins] helped bring me up to speed. I was impressed by his passion for business. I had never met a person more customer-focused."
Orkin CEO Rollins knew PCO Services was an extraordinary company. "Our thought was they had an outstanding leadership team of which Gary was most senior. My goal was to support Gary and to learn from him."
Over two weeks, Rollins and Muldoon visited all 24 PCO offices to explain the marriage. "We went from Newfoundland to Vancouver and got belly-to-belly with 98 percent of the company," recalls Muldoon. Explains Rollins, "I was confident the transition would be smooth because I have such unwavering confidence in Gary and his team."
That’s not to say there weren’t challenges. "Gary meets challenges with creativity, shrewd business decisions, and the help of his team," says Rollins.
The merger has been advantageous to both parties. "We finally got that computer system," laughs Muldoon, who now reports directly to Rollins. "We’ve doubled in size since the purchase."
PRIMED FOR GROWTH
Life’s been busier since the merger. Orkin has invested in computers, marketing and advertising plans, and sales force expansion. "It’s an exciting time," says Muldoon. The operation has grown through acquisition and strengthening of the existing customer base. Muldoon pioneered the concept of add-on hygiene services, such as odor control in washrooms, to extend the sale to far-flung customers. "If you are going to travel far between accounts, why not do more than one service?" Many of the company’s existing customers now pay two to three times more than what they were paying originally.
Under Muldoon’s leadership, Orkin/PCO Canada has flourished. Coworker and customer retention, growth and profits are as good as any in the company, says Rollins. The operation is bilingual and serves a country 4,600 miles across and spans 4½ time zones.
Jean Fader, director of human resources, Orkin/PCO Canada, who has reported to Muldoon for 18 years, says coworkers and customers alike respect that Muldoon is a straight-shooter who is adept at solving problems. "Gary takes the time to listen to what employees or customers are asking him and he will facilitate the changes needed to make things better for either one of those groups," she said. "Where we work well together is if there are human resource issues going on, I will be able to bring him up to date on those, than he will confer with others and make his decision. But I’ve also seen him handle operational issues similarly."
Orkin/PCO Canada, which is 85% commercial, has sales of $68 million ($75 million Canadian) – more than twice its competitors, says Muldoon. "My goal is to take it to $100 million in three to five years." The success of Orkin/PCO Canada has very little to do with Orkin, admits Rollins. "It is almost entirely the culture and leadership team that were in place when we joined forces" that’s responsible for its solid growth.
Since 2001, Muldoon also has managed Orkin’s North American commercial division, which accounts for 38% of the company’s revenue. "Kraft in Canada is the same as Kraft in the U.S. It was an opportunity to pull the U.S. and Canadian groups together," explains Muldoon, who oversees commercial operations for three Canada regions (East, Central, and West) and four U.S. regions (Central, North, Atlantic and South). "I’ve found the work involved is similar because customer bases are similar. We all have learned a lot from each other."
With Muldoon’s guidance, Orkin’s commercial division has made great headway meeting customers’ global requirements. "They want one set of reports and one contact, and we bring that to the table with Orkin’s service network across North America," he states.
"We’re on the verge of something great at Orkin," adds Muldoon. "Our customers have never needed us more than they do now. This company has the wherewithal to invest. They are not strapped for cash and are in a position to pull the trigger. I’d like to take Orkin to the top of commercial business. We’re there now, but I want to see us get better and better at it."
Muldoon is just the person for the job. "After working with him for years I’ve been able to see that he is just a natural at business," says Rollins. "He is responsible for the company that Orkin/PCO Canada is today. When he’s involved with an operation, I don’t have to worry.
"He understands the business innately, works well coordinating teams, and understands and values customer relationships," Rollins adds
Muldoon loves the pest control industry and never imagined he’d stick with it for 33 years. He and his wife, Karen, have three children, and are active in local autistic organizations. Muldoon enjoys traveling, reading and golf, and also has coached youth hockey.
He’s also known as a bit of a cut-up. "Gary has one of the best senses of humor of anyone I’ve had the pleasure of working with," said Rollins. "The first 90 days I thought he was just giving me his standard lines. But after another 100 days, I realized he was coming up with fresh material all the time," he says.
"We’ve learned a tremendous amount from Gary and the Orkin/ PCO team, and they’ve had a broad impact on the rest of our company."