The name Versacor is a portmanteau, which is a word whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct words (such as “smog” from smoke and fog). In the case of Versacor, the name is made up of “versatile” and “core,”which are important words to company founders Eric, Jason and Bryan Eicher.
“We want to be versatile, we want to be changing, we want to be improving, open to new things and new ideas,” Eric Eicher said. “But at the same time, we need to respect and stay true to our core values.” This approach has helped the company stay focused, and has allowed Versacor, based in Southlake, Texas, to become a strong regional player in the commercial pest control market throughout Texas and Oklahoma.
Eric was one of the founding members of The Steritech Group, Charlotte, N.C., in the 1980s. After having served as president and COO of Steritech’s Pest Prevention division and later its head of acquisitions, he left in 2008 to pursue new interests. “After 22 years, it was time,” he said.
Jason and Bryan are both veterans of the pest control industry as well (Jason worked at Steritech and Bryan at Rentokil), and the brothers said they had the drive to start something of their own. “Our experience is a great asset,” Eric said. “We were able to bring the best ideas from our past and improve on the things we realized could be done better.”
“What we saw was an opportunity in the Texas marketplace for a strong regional player,” said Jason Eicher. “When we looked at some of our competitors in this market, particularly on the commercial side, we felt there was a lot of opportunity for a high-quality commercial provider to be successful here.”
Jason and Eric got together and first worked on the concept for the new company, Eric said. Bryan joined the team as what Eric calls “the last piece of the puzzle.” His knowledge of accounting and finance within the pest control industry has proved invaluable for the firm, Eric said. The three also enlisted the eldest Eicher brother, Jeffrey, in an advisory role, and got to work.
Managed Pest Solutions. The company’s motto of “Managed Pest Solutions” is a guiding principle, according to the Eichers. It means that Versacor solves pest problems so their customers can get on with running their business. According to Jason, “It’s taking ownership of our client’s pest program and managing it for quality, consistency and long-term results.”
“Whatever pest problem they have, we feel we should be providing a solution for it,” Eric said. “Our feeling is, when you’re our customer we own your pest program. The customer shouldn’t have to manage us. We work closely with each customer so there is constant improvement in levels of sanitation and structural integrity of buildings to help build pests out.”
Eric said the key to the company’s growth has been Versacor’s commitment to a niche market — “very high-quality, commercial-only service.” For instance, the company’s AuditPro Managed Pest Program was designed specifically to meet food and beverage industry standards. The company’s AuditPro specialists go through rigorous training, including the firm’s own AuditPro Food Plant Training Program, and then must earn certification by the National Pest Management Association in Pest Management Standards for Food Plants. The company’s service specialists also go through specific third-party audited training, such as Safe Quality Food (SQF) training — an international food safety and quality certification program — and American Institute of Baking (AIB) training, so they understand what auditors are looking for in specific facilities. This training is unusual for pest control companies, Eric said. “We felt that it would be a really good thing for our people to be trained in SQF, so that they totally understand what auditors are looking for in those types of facilities,” he added.
Jason said that all of this training is part of an effort to make Versacor a true resource for its customers. “It was important to us because we want to specialize, to a degree, in third-party audited facilities,” he said. “We feel the training and preparation for that is extremely important in being able to deliver to that client base.”
Versacor’s services also involve their own EcoGuard protocol, a low-impact, low-pesticide approach to control that complies with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP) and supports the U.S. Green Building Council program, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
A Strong Player. Versacor got its start in June of 2009 — a “cold start,” without any accounts. From there, the company has expanded steadily and has been able to strengthen route density across its spreading territory. “When you sign up a hotel, and the (owner) says, ‘I have five more hotels,’ what are you going to say, no?” Eric said. “You put people where you need to put them to serve those customers, and then you build the route up.”
Versacor has 27 employees, which has grown to be what Eicher says is one of the strongest teams he’s worked with in his pest management career. “A lot of people are industry veterans…we have some very, very strong players that have brought a lot to the table.
“It’s very exciting, even after having done it this many years,” Eric continued. “This is as at least the third time I’ve started something from scratch, and this is one of the most rewarding.”
The author is associate editor of PCT. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.