When it comes to termite technicians, the mold may have been broken with this year’s PCT Termite Technician of the Year, Rick Gaudreault. That is according to Gaudreault’s service manager, Klete Boehne of the Collinsville, Ill. Orkin branch where Gaudreault has worked as a termite technician for the last seven of his 12 years in the business.
“If I could draw a picture of what I’d want in the perfect technician, I would have a picture of Gaudreault when I was done,” says Boehne.
High praise, but well deserved for a technician known for his positive attitude and willingness to go above-and-beyond to meet both his customers’ and company’s needs. In fact, it was Gaudreault’s attitude and drive that led him into pest management in the first place.
Attitude is Everything. In the late ’90s, Gaudreault was working in a furniture factory when he noticed an advertisement for a termite technician opening at the local branch of another national pest management company.
“I applied, but never heard back,” says Gaudreault. Undeterred by the lack of response and determined to make a career change, Gaudreault applied a second time and his persistence paid off. Gaudreault was interviewed that same day, earned the job and launched his career in pest management.
“I was attracted to the job because I saw it as an opportunity to work directly with people and problem solve for them,” says Gaudreault. Now, 12 years later, helping people still makes Gaudreault happy. “The best part of my job is providing customers with the peace-of-mind that their pest problem is gone and their home is protected.”
Gaudreault stayed at his first industry job for five years, then moved to Orkin, a change that his current manager is thankful for almost every day. “I have never had a technician like him before, that’s for sure,” says Boehne. “Gaudreault walks in the back door every day with a smile from ear-to-ear and it’s contagious.”
A Positive Influence. Gaudreault’s positive attitude translates into his relationships with co-workers and customers alike. “Gaudreault is genuinely concerned about the people he works with and makes customer service his top priority,” says Boehne. “Around the office Gaudreault is an ear for people to talk to and he never stops asking, ‘What can I do to help?’”
Gaudreault values being part of the Collinsville team and credits teamwork for the branch’s success. “We definitely work as a team here. We are all willing to help each other out,” he says.
In His Free Time
When not at work Rick Gaudreault enjoys a wide range of interests and hobbies, including:
- Going on adventures with his grandchildren. Whether it’s a nature hike in the woods, a walk across the “shaky bridge” near his home, or a trip into St. Louis to visit the Zoo or to see the balloon races, Gaudreault says time with his grandchildren keeps him young at heart.
- Exercising. Gaudreault and his wife enjoy mall-walking together, though he admits it’s a bit of a give-and-take experience; he enjoys the walking and she enjoys the shopping.
- Catching a movie. Gaudreault and his wife also share a love of movies and watch one on the “big screen” about once a month.
- Giving back to the community. Gaudreault regularly performs community service with his Bible study group.
Gaudreault may credit the team, but Boehne sees it another way. “Gaudreault is the glue that holds the whole team together,” he says.
In recent years, Gaudreault has become a mentor to new technicians as they join the team and Boehne appreciates the level of patience and dedication he brings to training. “Gaudreault may come across a situation he has seen hundreds of times and instead of plugging ahead to get the job done, he’ll take time for a teaching moment with a new technician,” says Boehne. “It would be much quicker for Gaudreault to handle the work on his own, but he’ll patiently stop what he’s doing, show the technician the issue and explain how it should be handled. To Gaudreault, it’s never a problem to move a little slower so someone else can learn.”
Trusted Mentor. In addition to teaching the mechanics of the job, Gaudreault passes on his philosophy of customer service. His advice for new technicians? “You’ve got to stay positive. The customers can be tough sometimes, but you can’t let that bother you,” he says. “Bottom line, you want the customers to feel good.”
According to Boehne, Gaudreault not only talks the talk, he walks the walk to ensure customer satisfaction. “If Gaudreault sees something that needs to be done, he will do it,” says Boehne. “I remember coming to a job and finding Gaudreault on a ladder in the garage changing a light bulb. When I asked him what he was doing, he just shrugged and said the homeowner was a widow and had no one else to do it. He’s truly interested in helping people.”
It’s that kind of compassion and empathy that has earned Gaudreault much appreciation and recognition from his customers over the years. It is not uncommon for Gaudreault to receive two or three customer appreciation letters a month, making him a regular on the branch’s Wall of Fame. “And, that is what we know of. There are lots of times when he is asked in for a cup of coffee as a thank you for instance that we don’t hear about,” Boehne says.
While Gaudreault appreciates customer accolades, it is not surprising that he finds his customer’s happiness most rewarding. “The job is not complete, until there is a smile on the customer’s face,” he says.
Gaudreault is also known for his work ethic and the initiative he brings to the job day-in and day-out. “He takes ownership of every job,” says Boehne “If he comes across a situation that wasn’t noted in the initial inspection — an inaccessible crawlspace or additional areas that need drilling — he thinks nothing of adding hours to a job to make sure it is done right.”
When the schedule gets busy, Gaudreault is often the first person on the job and the last one off it, and is still smiling at the end of the day, according to Boehne. “Gaudreault is my go-to guy and his positive attitude outlasts all of us on a long day,” he says.
While Gaudreault consistently goes the extra mile for his customers, he’s equally dedicated to the company. When business slowed during the recent recession, Gaudreault conducted his own after-hours marketing campaign canvasing neighborhoods with door hangers to drum up business. “I targeted hot spots where we had just provided service and walked the route like a mailman hanging 50 or 60 door hangers at a time,” says Gaudreault. Not only did his efforts help generate sales leads for the pest side of the business, but the sales inspector was able to sell termite services as well.
“This is a great example of Gaudreault’s initiative on the job,” says Boehne. “No one asked him to take on this project. He gave up time with his family and for his personal interests and took it upon himself to help find work for the other guys on the team.”
Eearly Adopter. And when the introduction of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) brought new techniques to the industry, Gaudreault stepped up to the challenge. He’s been available to try new products and techniques and is counted on provide his feedback.
Now after more than a decade as a termite technician, Gaudreault’s drive is taking him in a new direction. When the physical nature of the job recently became too wearing on him, Gaudreault applied for an opening on the sales team. “My years of experience on the job will help me explain to potential customers what needs to be done on their property,” says Gaudreault.
Boehne agrees and thinks Gaudreault’s move is a natural fit. “Gaudreault knows how to communicate with customers,” he says. “He is straightforward and real. He has a broad technical knowledge, but knows how to explain things to customers in simple, digestible terms.”
While Gaudreault will be missed as a technician, Boehne is certain of his bright future. “It doesn’t matter what part of the business Gaudreault works in, he’ll be successful because of his unparalleled attitude, work ethic and his sincere interest in helping others.”
The author is a Wisconsin-based contributing writer to PCT. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.