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Rollins, Inc. to Acquire Waltham Services

National News

The landscape of the pest control industry has been transformed again as New England’s largest independent pest control operation – Waltham Services – announced plans to join forces with Rollins, Inc. On July 14, Rollins Inc. announced it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire Waltham Services. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of July.

Brad Harbison | July 13, 2010

Related
Copesan Announces Partner Changes
Waltham Services was a founding member of Copesan Services. As a result of Waltham’s plans to enter into a definitive purchase agreement to be acquired by Rollins, Waltham and Copesan Services will be ending their business relationship.
Click here to read more.

ATLANTA - The landscape of the pest control industry has been transformed again as New England’s largest independent pest control operation – Waltham Services – announced plans to join forces with Rollins, Inc. On July 14, Rollins Inc. announced it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire Waltham Services. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of July.

Waltham Services was established in 1893 in Waltham, Massachusetts. With annual revenues exceeding $17 million, the commercial and residential pest control company ranked 33rd on PCT’s most recent Top 100 list.

Clarke Keenan, who has served as president and majority owner of Waltham Services since 1994, told PCT the timing was right to sell. “I’m in my mid 60s and the only owner who has real leadership responsibilities. There were no younger people queued up to continue on,” said Keenan, adding that his wife Cathie “would like to have more of me while we still have some energy and athleticism.”

Keenan said that during the past six months he had considered several offers, but ultimately decided Rollins was the best fit. “In no particular order, certainly a good monetary offer goes a long way and the Rollins people were very generous,” Keenan said. “But equally important, or close to, was what is best for our employees. I feel very good about the arrangement for our people with Rollins, very good. I have a sense from listening to the questions and watching their faces that our employees that…while they were surprised…there was a lot of positive hope for the future and to me that is so very important.”

 Clarke Keenan

Also instrumental in Keenan’s decision was Waltham’s longstanding relationship with Western Pest Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rollins Inc. Both are large regional companies servicing similar geographic areas and both are members of Copesan, an alliance of large regional pest control companies. The relationship actually dates back to the days of J.E. Sameth, founder of Western Pest Services, and Richard Keenan (Clarke’s father), who led Waltham Services from 1963 to 1994. In addition to the Sameth family, Clarke became acquainted with Tom Walters, president of Western Pest Services. “We’ve admired the way they’ve conducted themselves,” Walters said. “They’ve got a great reputation and a great brand in this marketplace. We just have a great amount of respect for what they’ve accomplished.”

Keenan added that he was impressed with the way Western Pest Services was integrated into Rollins after it was acquired in 2004.

Peter Wonson, Sr., who founded Malden, Mass.-based General Environmental Services in 1979 following a 13-year career with Waltham Services, said he was not surprised that Waltham sold to Rollins given the Western connection. Wonson says Waltham has always been a good supporter of the New England Pest Management Association – both in terms of member involvement and support of educational programs – and he believes this will continue now that the company is a part of Rollins. “Orkin’s also been good supporter. (Orkin manager ) Bill Siegel was president of NEPMA before my son (current NEPMA President Peter Wonson, Jr.), and Bill did a fine job. I think our association is in good shape and I think that Waltham is in good hands. Waltham may benefit from having more cash available.”

Glen Rollins, executive vice president of Rollins, Inc. and president of Orkin, said, "We are most pleased to welcome Waltham Services to the Rollins family of leading pest control brands. They have an outstanding management team and the company has, in fact, worked with Western Pest Services for over 40 years. This week, along with Waltham's leadership, I will visit with their team and personally meet many of the fine individuals who are contributing to the company's success. We feel fortunate to be joining with the oldest and finest Pest Control Company in New England, whose talented associates will greatly enhance our service network."

Rollins told PCT that the Waltham acquisition helps Rollins strengthen a geographic area where the company had a “somewhat thin service network.” “We’ve always been hopeful,” he added, “that a day like this might come when we could get the benefit of this talent and heritage – to be a part of the team. So, it’s really a wonderful opportunity for us.”

While the new management structure of Waltham Services is not yet formed, the company will continue to operate independently in much the same manner as Western Pest Services currently operates, with Keenan and his management team in place for the next six months before his retirement. Walters said, “I really don’t consider (Waltham) a region of Western. It will operate independently, but report to me. I think Glen is smart enough to realize that I’ve handled a couple of these transitions for Rollins now (with Western and the IFC team) so I kind of see myself as a facilitator to make sure they do well and grow and get integrated with the Rollins organization and that we open up all the resources to them. But we want them to be independent to a certain extent, and grow and continue to do well.”

One member of the Waltham team who will continue on in an important leadership role is Richard Berman, the longtime technical director of Waltham, whom Keenan refers to as “the glue in Waltham’s organization, from an employee and customer relations standpoint.” Rich Hatfield Waltham’s Director of Operations, and Michael Botte, Director of Sales and Marketing, represent the fine leadership stepping up to take Waltham into its next chapter of opportunity.

As a result of Waltham’s plans to enter into a definitive purchase agreement to be acquired by Rollins, Waltham and Copesan Services will be ending their business relationship. This decision will involve the transfer of Copesan accounts to other Copesan Partners and the repurchase of Copesan stock. “It is a bittersweet situation,” said Deni Naumann, president of Copesan. “We certainly respect the decision of owner Clarke Keenan to sell his family-owned business; however, we will deeply miss the friendships and camaraderie built over the years with Waltham’s employees throughout the Copesan Partner network. Clarke, his family and his team have held a variety of leadership positions with Copesan and these individuals have been valued contributors in our partnership’s success.”

Naumann told PCT that Copesan is currently "working through the details" to determine which of its Partners will take over the service of Copesan accounts serviced by Waltham Services. Throughout the past few years, Copesan has undergone an aggressive Partner expansion strategy to ensure that all of its service areas have secondary Partners with redundant service capabilities. In 2009, Copesan added Modern Services, Brunswick, Maine, to its Partner network. Several industry observers contacted by PCT believe Modern will be a beneficiary considering Modern is a $10 million-a-year company that covers much of Waltham’s same service area (New England). Keenan said that roughly 6% of Waltham’s business comes from Copesan clients.

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