The best service technicians understand that pest control is not about bugs so much as it is about people. Look no further than the 2008 Termite Technician of the Year Chris Sillinger, B&B Exterminating, Jacksonville, Fla., for proof.
During his 11 years as a termite technician, Sillinger has earned the respect of customers and co-workers alike for being a skilled and dependent service technician, and for having an ability to learn, listen and communicate with others.
“Chris is a great problem-solver who really takes the time to address individual needs,” said Jessica Miner Killian, president of B&B Exterminating.
“He treats every person he meets with the utmost respect. He is kind and compassionate when addressing any type of concern.”
In just three short years with B&B, Sillinger has proven himself so much that he has been promoted twice, including in April when he became lead technician and supervisor.
A PERFECT FIT. Sillinger’s April promotion at B&B is just the most recent accolade for a termite technician who started his career at the ground level. Sillinger became a father at age 17 after wife Nancy gave birth to son Joshua. In need of a job, he applied for and was hired as a termite technician at Jacksonville, Fla.-based Turner Pest Control, a firm where his father-in-law Lonnie Bowen worked.
“I was looking for a good place to work that would pay decently,” said Sillinger, who explained that pest control was a good fit for him. “I like dealing with customers and helping them solve their problems. I also like being able to work on your own out in the field and make your own decisions.”
At Turner, Sillinger worked as termite technician, doing both pre- and post-construction work. He also did a bit of lawn care work. “I think it really helped to start at the bottom and work my way up, because I was able to get all the knowledge that I need now.”
After eight years at Turner, Sillinger decided it was time for a change and left that company to work for B&B. “(B&B) has been a great company to work for. They are family-owned and really look at their employees personally, and not just as people getting production done for them.”
A QUICK STUDY. Sillinger arrived at B&B with vast market knowledge and technical expertise, which he put to work immediately. His construction knowledge and attention to detail have made him a gifted troubleshooter and inspector.
“Every different house requires a different treatment, so you have to be very thorough and check out every crack and crevice and corner. You need to spend good quality time inspecting a house,” Sillinger said.
Others at B&B recognized Sillinger’s abilities.
“Chris has demonstrated excellent problem-solving and decision-making skills. He is attentive to tasks and works tirelessly to achieve the goals of his position,” said B&B Manager Cliff Wheeler. “He is an extremely positive and dependable employee and performs his duties in an extremely timely and conscientious manner.”
Where Sillinger really has stood out has been in his ability to communicate with customers. The following comment from a client follow-up survey is typical of the types of feedback Sillinger receives from customers: “Chris is an asset to your company. He spent over one and a half hours answering questions and explaining the services in advance. He went above and beyond to make sure I was 100-percent satisfied with the services he performed.”
A BRIGHT FUTURE. B&B Exterminating recognized not only Sillinger’s daily performance, but also his skill set, and management has given him added responsibilities accordingly. As lead technician and supervisor Sillinger now oversees more than 50 employees daily. “I enjoy getting out in the field and helping other service technicians out.”
“Chris willingly accepts new assignments and offers to help whenever he can. The pest control industry is a fast-paced environment that presents many competing demands on everyone involved. Chris remains steadfast in his cheerfulness, calmness and dependability,” said Wheeler.
Added Miner Killian, “Chris is always lending a helping hand to his co-workers. He invites them to call him with any questions and his calm, collected demeanor allow him to focus on the topic rather than the emotion involved. He has the ability to problem-solve without getting wound up over stress. Chris offers his personal time to work with new employees so they feel more confident in their positions.”
A typical day for Sillinger might involve performing a “drill and treat” on a home, then returning to the office to troubleshoot a problem account and work with other departments and managers wherever needed.
Another one of those additional responsibilities Sillinger has taken on is safety trainer. Sillinger heads up the company’s weekly and monthly safety training sessions.
“Chris believes that safety is a procedure to be incorporated in every aspect of our daily duties, rather than just a preventive measure. He feels that safety should not be looked at as an afterthought, but rather a focal point required for every account, regardless of the service type,” said Miner Killian.
Sillinger is clearly a service professional on the rise and his plans to make a career in pest control is evidenced by some of the additional training he has sought and received. He has attended various industry seminars and plans to attend college and pursue a degree in entomology.
“As B&B considers branching out into other states and locations, I trust that Chris will be at the helm to guide us,” said Miner Killian.
What Co-workers Say
“I’ve received many compliments from customers that he’s assisted, as well as our staff members who rely on Chris’s direction. Management and personnel at B&B praise his work and attitude. Chris is an innovative self-starter and can problem-solve independently as well as in a team. He is punctual and continues to exceed expectations. He handles pressure well, will voluntarily work overtime and will do anything it takes to complete all assignments to the standard set forth and with the customer benefit in place.” — Cliff Wheeler, manager, B&B
“Chris has a vast knowledge of our industry and an enthusiastic personality that will help take our company to the next level. Chris eagerly continues to grow his knowledge of our industry by attending classes and seminars that provide the information on the constant changes to make us a better company. I feel that as a family-owned and -operated business we are blessed to have Chris as part of our family. He is not only an outstanding employee, he is an outstanding person and we are honored to have him at B&B Exterminating Co., Inc.” — Melissa Jones, office manager, B&B
“If hard work, honesty, experience and knowledge suggest the value of an employee, it is safe to say Chris Sillinger is a true success in the pest control industry and will continue on that path.” — Michelle Garriott, warranty supervisor, B&B
At Home with Sillinger
Away from the office and while not in the field, family comes first for Chris Sillinger. He and wife Nancy have been married for 13 years and are parents to Joshua (age 13), Christopher (11), Jonathan (9) and Rachel (8).
Sillinger has helped raise money for his children’s various activities including football, tennis and the Boy Scouts of America. He also has done volunteer work for his church and participated in Habitat for Humanity.
While these pursuits take up the majority of his time, Sillinger enjoys deer hunting (with either a bow or a gun, depending on the season).
The author is managing editor and Internet editor of PCT magazine.