|Craig Thomas (left) and Bob Russell (right) have continued a friendship that began as children when they attended pest control conferences.|
Lifelong friendships and family-owned companies are the hallmark of the pest management industry. To Craig Thomas and Bob Russell, attending pest control conferences as children with their dads meant only one thing: They could buddy up with each other and play only as little boys could and begin a friendship that would serve them both throughout their lives.
"The first thing I did when arriving at a convention hotel was find Craig," said Russell. "Then we'd run the halls of the hotel and a myriad of other activities would fill our days."
While growing up, the two would met at industry functions like NPMA conventions, Associated Pest Services meetings and local and state gatherings.
Since the boys grew and absorbed what they learned about the pest control industry, it's no surprise that they both ended up running successful pest control companies. Before starting Craig Thomas Pest Control, Thomas was a New York State Regulator for 11 years. Once Thomas decided to start his pest control company, he called his friend, Bob Russell, for advice and help. "I feel fortunate to have such deep ties with Bob, knowing we can call each other whenever we need help," said Thomas.
Family Ties. Craig's father, Jim, and Bob's father, Jim, also were lifelong friends and set the pattern for the boys. To this day, the fathers consider each other as brothers. The two families forged a deep bond over family activities like swimming and playing ball. Craig Thomas taught Bob Russell horseback riding, fort building and apple picking while Bob Russell taught Craig Thomas about lox and bagels and lacrosse.
Bob Russell says, "Looking back over your book of friends, there are few you could never say 'no' to — but Craig is definitely in that category for me."
Their Friendship Today. Despite having some competing interests, the two remain great friends today, reveling in each other's successes and leaning on each other for advice.
Russell's company, American Pest Solutions, was founded in 1913 and is a fourth generation, family-owned company. The company's mission is to promote environmentally sound pest management while protecting the health and safety of the public and property. Similarly, Craig Thomas believes that environmentally responsible pest control can be achieved without sacrificing guaranteed quality.
Though they are each die-hard fans of their respective sports teams (for Craig it's the Yankees, and for Bob it's the Red Sox), their friendship has stood the test of time and — it appears — it will continue to serve them both well for years to come.
The author is a contributing writer to PCT magazine and can be contacted at email@example.com.