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In the movie “Tin Cup,” Roy McAvoy, the character played by Kevin Costner, says, “I’d hit it again because that shot was a defining moment. And when a defining moment comes along, you define the moment, or the moment defines you.”
At the National Pest Management Association NPMA’s PestWorld conference in Boston last year, three industry leaders shared powerful insights about some of their defining moments, which helped illuminate new pathways to positive growth and continued business success.
Bobby Jenkins, president of ABC Home & Commercial Services, based in Austin, Texas, shared the story of how he changed his company from a conventional pest management firm to today’s home and commercial service company offering a wide variety of services.
According to Jenkins, ABC Pest Control grew an average of 16 percent each year from 1983 to 1997. Concerned that the company had reached the point of limited growth opportunities, Jenkins hired John Beck, an industry consultant, to analyze the company’s revenues in relation to the Austin market to determine future growth potential.
According to Beck, using a ratio of revenue to population, if the result is more than $2 per person, that company is considered dominant in the market and prospects for future growth are limited. The result of the Austin office’s revenue to population ratio equaled $6.52 per person.
“On one hand I was really proud that we were a dominant pest management company, but on the other hand we knew that 16-percent growth was not going to be sustainable,” says Jenkins.
Jenkins considered two options. He could sell the same services to more people by opening up branches in new markets or he could add revenue by offering more services to his current customers.
“The thought of not being able to grow based on the population of my market was very disconcerting, and that’s where I can trace back to one of the defining moments for me. I realized that if all I do is pest management, I’m only going to grow at a flat level,” Jenkins says. “I thought about other services we could offer that would capitalize on our customer relationships in order to continue generating the growth percentages of the past, and lawn care seemed like a natural fit.”
Jenkins changed the company name to ABC Pest & Lawn Services and began offering fertilization and disease, weed and insect control lawn services. The expansion had some unexpected results.
“Sometimes I think we are going down one path, but then I get pulled down another. I thought I had a vision of what that path would be, but then we had so many calls from customers asking us to mow their lawns,” Jenkins says. “When you have enough people who want mowing services, you find a way to offer that.”
Once they offered mowing services, customers began asking about landscaping services and irrigation systems, so they began offering those services as well.
“We are doing all this because we are listening to our customers and they were asking for these services,” says Jenkins. “That’s what diversification is — it’s allowing the opportunity for growth and it’s also a very efficient way to grow by offering multiple services to the same customer.”
In 2005, Jenkins met Scott Esler, a home improvement specialist who was interested in buying a home improvement company. Jenkins suggested he join ABC and together they would leverage the company’s customer base so together they could build business faster than Esler would have been able to if he bought the franchise operation. As such, heating and air conditioning, plumbing and electrical services became another path to growth.
In 2009, Jenkins realized another defining moment.
“We had become a service company, so we changed our name to ABC Home & Commercial Services,” Jenkins says. “As a service company, it becomes about what else we can do to add value to the relationships we have with customers so we can be of more service to them.”
Today, pest management is still at the company’s foundation, however each year Jenkins has extended more services to customers. He added a tree division in 2010, pool services the following year and security systems in 2012.
“For us, the Holy Grail is when our customers need something done, we want them to think to check with us first to see if we offer that particular service,” Jenkins says. “We want to be their vendor of choice.”
Shooting for the Stars.
Stuart Aust, president and CEO of Bug Doctor Termite & Pest Control/Bird Doctor Nationwide and its various divisions, walked into a small deli in Palisades Park, N.J., on a cold call more than 20 years ago and walked out with the company’s first commercial pest control account. Since its establishment in 1992, Bug Doctor Termite & Pest Control, based in Paramus, N.J., has grown into a multi-million dollar company with five divisions that service major commercial venues such as Yankee Stadium, Rockefeller Center and Madison Square Garden.
Diversification has been a key ingredient in the company’s growth. However, a clear defining moment was when Aust decided to move away from the small, less-profitable accounts he was servicing to target, sell and service large commercial operations. He says he changed his business strategy for several reasons.
It’s a niche business where there is less competition.
“We tend to see the same three to five companies out there, which is nice. They get some accounts, we get some, and it all works out,” Aust says. “Plus, there’s less chance of these accounts canceling service for a cheaper price. No one is going to walk in off the street and for $10 or $20 less and is going to get that job. If you are doing a good job and they like you, you are going to stay at that account.”
It instills pride in the company’s technicians and staff.
“When we started in 1992, we sold a lot of housing authority jobs because they were low bid and easy to get into. However, I’ll never forget when our technician told me he was taken around for service by an armed guard,” Aust says. “I’d much rather a technician walk into Yankee Stadium, Rockefeller Center or one of the corporations we service today.”
It means less technician time on the road.
“Some accounts we are there for the whole day, which means we are not moving those trucks,” Aust says. “If your technicians are driving for a few hours a day, that’s a lot of lost time that is not producing revenue.”
In addition, it’s more profitable and can lead to other upscale accounts.
“When a facility or property manager change jobs or venues, oftentimes they will bring us along,” Aust says. “Sometimes management will refer us; and in the case of Yankee Stadium, we service several of the executives’ homes as well.”
Recently, Aust promoted an employee to the position of business development coordinator to prospect the company’s top 100 target accounts.
“This is a big step for us,” Aust says. “The director of national sales and I have a list of our top targeted accounts, and she will be spending four or five hours a day on the phone with the companies and venues on that list.”
As one might expect, with a change in target markets comes new challenges to address, according to Aust. New service systems and protocols had to be established. And Aust says they have become extremely discerning about who they hire.
“We may spend 12 to 15 hours interviewing potential employees,” he says. “We want to make sure we are hiring true professionals and that they are going to fit in with our company culture.”
Finally, while Aust says the Bug Doctor still services many of the smaller commercial operations that helped him get his start, he keeps a close eye on their profitability.
“We have a project going on right now where if an account is not at a certain dollar volume, we will try to bring them up to that volume,” Aust says. “If that doesn’t work, we’ll cancel that account.”
In addition, servicing such high-profile accounts has increased the importance of quality assurance and quality control. As such, Aust developed a program called “Code Blue,” in an effort to intercept a possible account cancellation.
“We want our technicians to be honest and straightforward, and we are not going to penalize them if they see a competitor vehicle at one of their sites or see a proposal on the manager’s desk,” Aust says. “We encourage them to raise their hand if there is a problem so we can help because we want to protect our accounts.”
In fact, Aust also keeps a personal Code Blue list.
“If one of my friends calls and says there’s an issue, I am going to see that through,” he says.
The Magic of Metrics.
According to Michael Botha, president of Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions, Pearl City, Hawaii, he used to feel that managing his business felt like he was on a never-ending roller coaster ride. But based on the fact that he started his company with $10,000, using 75 percent of that to buy a truck, and now he has 65 employees and nearly $6 million in business, he seems to have stepped off that ride and jumped onto one that only goes up.
“If you look at the numbers since I first started, the highest growth I had in a single year was 225 percent — and the worst was minus 12 percent,” Botha says. “There were a few years when we nearly went out of business.”
According to Botha, one of his defining moments was realizing that others in the industry had been on the roller coaster ride, too, but they successfully navigated the ride. Most importantly, they were willing to share what they learned along the way to help his company succeed.
Thanks to networking and learning from his peers and mentors, he decided he must implement better measurement metrics and hold everyone accountable on a daily basis. He developed the company’s “Accountability Metrics,” which are tools to measure everything the company does. They measure daily performance benchmarks and track progress, they measure the past and forecast the future, and they keep everyone on track on a daily basis.
“It’s so important to track everything on a daily basis so we stay focused,” Botha says. “If we look at the numbers after two weeks have passed, it’s already too late to save that month.”
Botha shares all the reports with everyone, every day, so the staff can see how they are doing relative to their co-workers, and that puts on just enough pressure to encourage them to work harder and smarter. His Required Performance Outcomes (RPO) has had quite an impact.
The RPO is a daily report for salespeople, with a daily summary of all sales outcomes including sales numbers, how many jobs they sold and their dollar amounts, how many leads and their closure percentage, and the number of proposals and dollar amounts.
“Everyone knows the salesman who is not selling is saying that he doesn’t get enough leads or the leads weren’t qualified,” Botha says. “This way everyone gets to see the leads and if there is an imbalance we can fix it quickly.”
The report also compares sales numbers against their monthly forecast each day. Botha says this helps put a little pressure in the right places for those that are falling behind. They see they need to work harder and smarter than the day before to catch up. However, Botha and his general manager are spread fairly thin and don’t have a great deal of time to spend with the salespeople.
“One of the failures I think we had was we never focused enough on our salespeople who were failing. The ones that had been winning constantly won. But the ones that needed help, we just weren’t there for them,” Botha says. “What the daily RPO does for me is it makes it easy to identify who needs help and I can go through their proposals to help them find a way to close those deals.”
Plus, since salespeople are naturally competitive, when they see the report everyday and are not in the position they expected, it motivates them and helps them focus on improving.
“The first month we did this, every single salesperson made quota — for the first time in a year,” Botha says. “At first they were shocked that we shared everyone’s numbers, but it really works for us.”
Botha also uses a daily production forecast and requires that all forecasting must be complete by 4 p.m. for the following day. The forecast must meet the daily production quota for all employees, including service employees and managers. That means that every manager has to be engaged in sales or productivity. They don’t necessarily have to be doing the work but they have to be engaged and supporting or coaching a technician or salesperson.
“What we found was some of our managers were doing way more than what was expected and some were doing way less than was expected and it wasn’t fair. Now they are all held to the same standard,” says Botha. “What we are trying to do is grow a culture that is focused on performance, not excuses.”
Another tool Botha uses to gauge business performance is a formula that calculates the daily production per employee. Looking at the PCT Top 100 List, he divided several top-performing firms’ revenues by the number of employees and compared his own results.
When he reviewed the numbers, he found “Terminix (had) the highest annual revenue by employee per day standard at $543.05. When you look at Sandwich Isle, we were at $314.42. When you look at the difference, it’s staggering. Terminix is making $230 more per employee per day,” Botha says. “This is where I felt like I was slapped in the face because I thought we were doing well but by looking at the leaders I realized we weren’t. Our goal is to be at $500 and that’s a big jump, but we are taking little steps and we’ve made some progress.”
Botha also credits Larry Hanks, vice president of operations, Rose Pest Solutions, a mentor who helped him off the rollercoaster by introducing him to what Hanks calls the Rule of 23. “Basically you combine your net profit and growth percentage and it should equal 23 percent. So now our goal is 10 percent profit and 13 percent growth,” Botha says.
In the past, Botha says he would have been happy with a goal of 10 percent profit and 5 percent growth, but compared to his new benchmark of 23 percent, the business would not be growing and the bad ride would continue.
“It’s made me focus not just on profit and not just on growth but on the two of them combined,” says Botha. “Since we’ve instituted this, for the first time in 14 years, every single month we have been consistently profitable and we’ve grown. Now we have charted a course and we are sticking to it.”
According to Botha, today you can’t just work hard and achieve success. Working hard is only the starting point; people need to work smart, constantly improve and hold themselves accountable to move up to the next level. He attributes his success to those factors, but more importantly, to what he learned from networking with industry leaders.
“The greatest thing I’ve learned is how important it is to learn from others in this business. It’s all been done before, and people have figured it out,” says Botha. “If you just ask, they will give you the right answers.”
For most of those in business today, success doesn’t just happen. The hard work and determination that may have ensured success in the past may not be enough in the current business climate. It takes a commitment to planning, acumen, continuous improvement and an ability to recognize and capitalize on defining moments that come your way.
The author is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When is good enough not good enough? Always, according to the 25 companies featured in this PCT Companies to Watch special report. Dow AgroSciences is pleased to again sponsor this special report, which recognizes 25 up-and-coming pest management firms selected by PCT. It highlights actions each company is taking to stand out in the market, grow revenue, increase profitability and please customers. The ideas are wide-ranging. The common trait is an underlying desire to make changes to become even better.
I have an appreciation for business people who are dissatisfied with things, as long as it is coupled with a desire to find a better way. In my world, that means investing to improve the Sentricon® System, keep Vikane® gas fumigant ahead of the curve in regulatory requirements and ensure our field sales and field scientists have all they need to serve our customers. Plus, I take time to work with other manufacturers and industry leaders to help keep the pest management business environment healthy. When is my job done? Never.
2013 Companies to watch
Let’s agree that the dissatisfied side of the equation is easy to see. Pick up the newspaper or watch the evening news and you get a dose of business concerns. You can’t do too much about the economy, the weather, housing starts or termite swarms in 2014. What you can do is focus on the positive side of the equation. You decide what services your company will offer, how to connect better with more customers, how to train and motivate your employees, what technologies to invest in and a host of other ways to take your business to the next level. Forget the bad news on the TV or in the newspaper. Instead, create some good news for yourself and your company.
What will 2014 look like for your company? I enjoyed this PCT special report because it highlights positive moves that companies like yours are doing to realize their potential.
Commercial Director Pest Management
By Anne Nagro
Never before has so much change — and opportunity — converged in pest management. Big data and social media are honing marketing efforts. A new regulatory landscape and advanced science are spurring fresh protocols and ways of solving pest problems. Collaboration and intuitive technologies are fostering more efficient operations, communications and customer relationships.
From start-up to multi-generation companies, agile pest management operations are embracing these innovations, along with good old-fashioned hard work, to set themselves apart and grow their revenue. Rising to the challenge is in their DNA; their targets include bed bugs, commercial work and niche markets. With these companies leading the charge, the industry’s future looks bright, indeed.
Aardvark Pest Management,
The success of Aardvark Pest Management, topping $1 million this year, comes from a strong work ethic and satisfying commercial clients like the University of Pennsylvania, said President Marty Overline. He relies on robust word of mouth and invests in the best employees, equipment and tools to do “the proper job.” Job flexibility is so valued that employees work extra hard prioritizing customer needs. Bed bugs will continue to be big business. In 2014, Overline sees growth from converting one-time bed bug jobs to monthly prevention and general pest contracts.
Absolute Pest Management,
Before unveiling its bed bug service, President Larry Johnson and son, Erik, company service director, spent more than 250 hours in seminars learning about the pest. Besides thermal remediation, it is one of three regional companies licensed to fumigate bed bugs. Employees get extensive training, and their ability to answer customer questions is key to closing sales. New bed bug routes, increased termite activity and improved procedures should help the company grow 20 percent next year, said Johnson, who is making big investments in equipment and people.
Building a Lifestyle
Arizona Pest Squad,
Arizona Pest Squad is a “lifestyle” centered on the customer experience, said President David Marshall, who ensures technicians have top-notch products and equipment, and the time to go the extra mile. A former model and music industry publicist, Marshall knows attention to detail makes one stand out. The company is raking up online reviews and “growth is substantial,” said Marshall, who spoke on viral marketing at NPMA PestWorld 2013. The two-year-old company should hit $250,000 in revenue this year. Offices in Chicago and Ohio are planned to support commercial client expansion.
Adjusting the Sails
Advanced Pest Management,
In 2010 Advanced Pest Management offered a once-a-year service. Despite tremendous growth, revenue became “seasonal,” making it challenging to support personnel, said Jeremy Kreer, who, with brother, Nam, purchased the third-generation company from their parents in 2001. After downsizing, the company renewed its focus on profitability, switched to a bi-monthly service strategy and is exploring acquisitions and expanding its commercial client base. Leadership training, open-book management and community involvement have reenergized employees. This year the company posted positive gains; solid growth is forecast for 2014, the company’s 50th anniversary.
Owning Bed Bugs
Assured Environmental Solutions,
Maple Ridge, B.C.
Brett and Melanie Johnston started Assured Environmental Solutions in 2011 when their employer retired. This year, the thermal remediation specialists will surpass $500,000 in revenue. “We are good at what we do, we charge a fair price for it and word has spread,” said Brett, who credits referrals from colleagues, industry connections and stellar employees for the growth. No longer an issue: turning away big clients until the company was large enough to service them properly. Bed bugs and general pest services will be huge in 2014, said Brett.
Armor Pest Control,
Armor Pest Control may be a small operation but you’d never know it by its website. The clean design and modern logo reinforce an earth-friendly approach and appeal to women decision makers; helpful content helps close sales, said President Carnell Mayo. Small-company values rule: Treat employees right and they’ll do the same for customers, said Mayo. Honesty, a strong work ethic, promptness and steady, profitable growth are company tenets. Revenue boosts for 2014: new client referral and mosquito control programs and an expanding commercial client base.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Management,
President Jason Reger knows how to spot market opportunities, like tick, bird, urban deer and pond management, while positioning his company’s expertise. He said TV ads, which provide “repetitive brand awareness” and a touch of humor, helped the company reach $800,000 in sales this year. Specialized pest control and exclusion work and annual warranty renewals for bat, rodent and squirrel control will spur growth in 2014, said Reger. Learning from peers at association meetings and partnering with pest and landscaping firms gives the company wide reach.
Bugs Are Gone Exterminating,
At this service-driven company, a new system lets clients schedule appointments, pay online and get email or text confirmations that feature photos of their technicians. Automatic reminders are sent to former customers; the system even suggests additional services customers may need. The approach is helping the company “make each customer aware how critical his or her satisfaction is to us,” said President Todd Pemberton. Marketing and referral programs, trend tracking, and new sales and in-house “street” teams should boost revenue 15 percent next year, he said.
Making it Easy to Buy
This second-generation company streamlined its service offerings, giving customers fewer packages to choose from and boosting sales in the process. “We love to bundle” services, said President Stan Hollingsworth. “One price and you get it all.” TV ads by college film students (Wilmington is a movie industry town) and networking with real estate agents also are driving the business. This year, sales should grow 28 percent to $1.95 million. Hollingsworth expects big growth in 2014 from bed bug heat treatments for beach rental properties, a new program introduced this year.
Supporting the Sciences
Buono Pest Control Company,
For 35 years, Buono Pest Control has served the needs of medical, research and pharmaceutical facilities. Word of mouth is golden: General Manager Steve Buono had two bio research firms call the day of this interview with PCT. Clients know the firm will resolve pest problems while being alert to unique safety issues. “We aren’t thinking about the next account, but solving the problems and building relationships,” said Manager Marillian Missiti. Part of a five-year, NIH-funded mouse allergen and asthma trial, the company is hiring new employees and is active in the community.
Making it Personal
Capital Pest Services,
Second-generation Capital Pest Services was built on builder relationships and termite renewals. When the housing market tanked, the company lost $250,000 over three years, said General Manager Mitch Taylor. To boost revenue, he added mosquito control, closed crawlspace renovation and bed bug heat treatment. A sales incentive program helped cross-sell services to existing termite customers. New home pretreats are increasing, and a multi-touch program encourages homeowners to renew termite warranties and add general pest services. The company will have its “biggest year yet” at $1.8 million, said Taylor.
Standing for Community
Enviroguard Pest Solutions,
Some companies say they’re active in community affairs; employees of Enviroguard Pest Solutions are. They participate in chambers of commerce, serve local government, talk to elementary schools about beneficial insects and lead discussions on entrepreneurism at local colleges. Why? “You meet people,” which results in “quite a bit of business,” said President Lee Tubbs. Revenue jumped 18 percent last year. Customers want to see technicians involved; employees enjoy it, reducing turnover and boosting customer retention, which lets the company focus on delivering quality service, he said.
Making Local Count
FarmerGuard Pest Control,
Marketing local gives “us an edge financially,” said Owner Alan Farmer, who tracks every dollar spent to achieve “more bang for the buck.” A new office on a busy street where 15,000 vehicles pass daily generated a 1,000 percent return. The company actively supports local charities. It donated 50 percent of new revenue for a month to repair youth baseball dugouts, while gaining new business and tons of publicity. Revenue jumped 17 percent this year despite raising termite prices to combat this segment’s slow growth. Increasing pest revenue is Farmer’s goal in 2014.
Banking on Big Impressions
First Rate Solutions,
New Windsor, N.Y.
Staying ahead of the curve helped this company increase revenue 24 percent this year, said President Sam Soto. Technicians use apps to create professional, easy-to-read reports with photos and diagrams for residential customers, and give educational presentations on iPad minis. The latest equipment, like mini sprayers, ups their professional image. One potential client was so impressed by Soto’s inspection technology he awarded the job on the spot. In 2014, the 23-person company will expand its commercial base and suburban routes, and is exploring new insulation and maintenance services.
Finding the Right Fit
Not every customer is a good fit for Future Services, a lesson learned after the housing market collapsed. Today it is “more on the choosing end,” said President Darrell Lee. Services cost more upfront and are paid annually or by credit card on file. Employees use online tools to investigate property history and identify red flags, cross-sell services and provide instant lawn care quotes. Lee hired an Internet marketing expert and got a 500 percent return on investment. The company grew 10 percent in 2013, which is “phenomenal” given it is actively shedding less desirable customers, he said.
Griffin Pest Management,
Santa Ana, Calif.
Three years ago this company opened as a virtual office, a necessity given its four-county service area in Southern California. Though management now meets at corporate digs, most employees work from home using real-time software and in-field devices. The model saves money — gas was $5 a gallon at the company’s start — and helps develop business in communities where employees live. New technology is “critical” for growth, said President Travis Swope. So are acquisitions and a focus on pest prevention. Revenue grew 23 percent this year to $1.5 million.
Capitalizing on Knowledge
Innovative Pest Management,
In nine years, Innovative Pest Management has become a major player in Washington, D.C., with $2.5 million in revenue. Employees are “subject matter experts” and clients are “engaged and selling for us,” said Vice President Josh Kramer. A content-savvy website contributes to a near-90 percent close rate, he said. Though pinched by the government shutdown — clients include many federal institutions like the Smithsonian museums and Secret Service — revenue should reach $3 million in 2014 from growing residential accounts, acquisitions and bed bug heat treatments, said Kramer.
Exploring All Options
McNeely Pest Control,
McNeely Pest Control keeps an open mind when it comes to growth, considering add-on services, acquisitions and initiatives to deepen its offerings. It trains 70 employees in diverse skills, gives them a voice in company management and charges a fair price so they can make a career in the industry, said President Scott McNeely. This helps retain talent and ensure quality. Sales follow: Growth averaged 18 percent the past three years. Initiatives for 2014 include Internet marketing, a customer feedback program and crawlspace renovation service.
Covering the Bases
Perfection Pest Control,
Using every tool to meet customer needs helped Perfection Pest Control increase revenue 21 percent this year, said President Tim Leatherman. One of the first in the region with bed bug detection dogs, it created a handyman division because customers couldn’t find good help to exclude stink bugs, rodents and bats. Acquisitions helped the company grow in Cincinnati, and it’s expanding its commercial base through word of mouth and maintenance-based services like drain cleaning. More acquisitions and great employees will spur growth in 2014, said Leatherman.
Stirring up Passion
P.E.S.T. has a “greater vision of treating people well,” said Julie Yant, who started the company with husband, Andy, in 2001. “Making sure people are doing things they’re passionate about” drives growth, she explained. Case in point: A technician with an innate ability to grow his route is now the company’s first salesman. This culture carries through to customers; revenue will exceed $1 million this year. A new nuisance wildlife service, expanding mosquito and bed bug control, and social media and community involvement will boost 2014 sales.
Being the Specialist
ScorpionTech Termite & Pest Control,
As consultants, ScorpionTech employees work with homeowners to reduce conducive conditions and seal gaps and cracks to achieve a near-zero scorpion threshold. It’s basic Integrated Pest Management, but this approach is new for many customers, said President Andy Witcher. Cooperation helps ScorpionTech succeed where other companies have failed. “It’s surprising how fast the word spreads when you’re standing behind your services,” he said. Company revenue jumped 29 percent in 2013. Next year looks just as promising with initiatives to go mobile, expand service offerings and target charter schools.
Improving Internal Processes
Sherrill Pest Control,
Sherrill Pest Control has a 96 percent customer retention rate. It’s due to trust, which is built on a customer-centric culture and employees who are empowered to make decisions in the field, said Operations Manager Kevin Sherrill. While customer referrals account for 85 percent of sales, the company is moving into new markets and aggressively cross-selling services. To support profitable growth, Sherrill is restructuring the third-generation company’s systems and procedures. Revenue per employee increased 28 percent this year and should reach $1.5 million. He expects double-digit growth going forward.
Building Long-Term Loyalty
Steve’s Pest Management,
East Chatham, Ontario
The 25 employees of Steve’s Pest Management are driven to find solutions, not temporary fixes, to pest problems. This mindset helped the company grow from a one-man to a $1.6 million operation in 10 years, said President Steve Peltier. Recognized for bed bug expertise, the company early on used innovative technologies and creative thinking to control the pests, as well as trained clients in prevention strategies. Technicians are paid hourly to ensure they have time to do their jobs properly. Commercial work will provide solid growth in 2014.
Mining Big Data
Swat Pest Management,
Last year, Swat Pest Management compared its customer list with a database of similar-sized, non-pest service companies. It gained valuable insights to help align its services and messaging, as well as target its marketing spend at “more profitable” opportunities, said President Tim Runyon. Next up: Holding blind customer and employee focus groups with an outside facilitator to dig deeper. The company, which operates a basement and crawlspace renovation division, should hit $4.6 million this year. Runyon said general pest control offers lots of growth potential in 2014.
Running With the Elite
Ultra Safe Pest Management,
A scientific approach to pest control helped this 14-year-old company double revenue from 2011 to 2012. To ease growing pains, President Vic Palermo, who likes “running with a small, elite group,” throttled back for more controlled, 20 percent growth this year. Improving work flow efficiencies, profitability and customer service are major initiatives, with employees actively brainstorming solutions, like using satellite images to gain early customer intel. Palermo said rats are “the new bed bugs” in Boston; calls increased 75 percent this year, mostly for urban multi-unit housing complexes.
The author is a frequent contributor to PCT magazine. She can be reached at email@example.com.
PCT and Syngenta recognized the 2013 Crown Leadership Award winners at NPMA PestWorld 2013, in Phoenix, in October.
The awards spotlight individuals who have contributed positively to the growth and development of the structural pest control industry, as well as established ties with fellow business leaders, civic groups and customers in their local communities.
This is the 25th consecutive year in which Syngenta has partnered with PCT for the awards.
“It’s with great pride that we recognize 25 years of giving thanks to the many great men and women in this industry who give tirelessly of themselves for the success of their organizations, the benefit of the pest control industry and the betterment of their communities,” said PCT Publisher Dan Moreland. “Their passion is what keeps this industry moving forward.”
Syngenta’s Scott Reasons added, “It’s not just about the efforts they put forth every day as great businessmen and great influencers, but it’s the role they play as market shapers — those thought leaders that are really doing more for the industry than just impacting their immediate surroundings or their business. They are setting trends, and that is really what we look for with these honorees.”
The Leadership Class of 2013 includes:
- Gene Chafe, Senske Services, Kennewick, Wash.
- Pat Copps, Orkin Pest Control, Costa Mesa, Calif.
- Bob Dold Jr., Rose Pest Solutions, Northbrook, Ill.
- Scott Fortson, Terminix Service, Columbia, S.C.
- Ken Fredrick, Conquistador Pest & Termite, Tucson, Ariz.
- Deni Naumann, Copesan Services, Menomonee Falls, Wis.
- Roland Rhodes, Rhodes Chemical Co., Kansas City, Kan.
- Dr. Coby Schal, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C.
If you know of a member of the pest management industry you would like to nominate for next year’s Crown Leadership awards, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rich Smith has seen a lot in his decade as director of pest control services at Rose Pest Solutions in suburban Chicago. But one account, a restaurant, was a surprise. “It was one of those ‘Oh my God’ moments in pest control,” he said of the venue’s massive German cockroach infestation. “You say to yourself, ‘What am I going to do?’ ”
The problem, he explained, was that the previous pest control operator had used mostly repellent materials. “This drove the roaches up into walls and deep into equipment,” he said. “If those treatments had continued, it could have driven the roaches into customer view, which would have been devastating to the restaurant.” Those treatments also did nothing to slow roach populations, which rebounded immediately after every service.
Smith and the Rose team turned to Transport Mikron liquid insecticide from FMC Professional Solutions. The insecticide is based on a combination of actives — acetamiprid and bifenthrin — that delivers significant control within 24 hours after treatment, as well as residual protection of up to 90 days or longer, the manufacturer says. And most importantly, the product is non-repellent, so roaches cannot detect it and move away.
For most of the food-handling areas, Smith and his team used Transport Mikron as a liquid spray in a B&G sprayer but for deep harborage areas like inside the dishwasher, they employed an Actisol machine. “Again, you are controlling the roaches but not repelling them into other areas,” said Smith.
For areas where an Actisol might not be practical, Smith uses CB-80 insecticide, a flushing and contact aerosol, also from FMC. “We use CB-80 in voids, cracks, crevices and where pipes extend from walls to attach to stoves and other restaurant equipment,” he said. “It will kill cockroaches and other pests when they come in contact with it, while creating an environment that repels them. So if the pests don’t die, CB-80 will irritate them to the point that they leave the area, and hopefully, come in contact with the Transport Mikron you have already applied.
“In just a few weeks, we tackled the problem that they had been struggling with for years,” Smith said.
Source: FMC Professional Solutions
For More Information
To see Rose Pest Solutions in action, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=UojkD1vXWFw.