Critter Control Franchisees Celebrate 20-Year Anniversaries
Earlier this year, Critter Control held its 30th annual convention at the Sheraton New Orleans. At the event, the firm recognized the 20-year anniversaries of Michigan, Ohio and Washington-based franchisees.
Assured Environments Celebrates 80 Years in Business
Assured Environments, New York City, announced it is celebrating its 80th year serving customers throughout the New York City metro area.
Operating since 1934, Assured Environments provides pest control services for homes and businesses in and around New York City, Long Island, Westchester County and northern New Jersey.
Since its founding eight decades ago by Daniel Klein, the company has been owned and operated by the Klein family. Today, Klein’s son Robert acts as company CEO and grandson Andrew serves as president.
Michael Bohan, vice president of business development at Assured Environments, says the company will continue to explore new methods of pest control to ensure it provides the best service possible.
“When it comes to pest management, N.Y. customers have turned to Assured Environments for decades and for good reason; we’re constantly seeking new ways to serve our customers, providing them with the most advanced and effective pest control methods available while still ensuring the safety of their homes and businesses,” said Bohan. “All of our technicians receive specialty training in all aspects of pest management practices including natural and green options, so our customers know they can depend on us for the most reliable and effective solutions.”
Assured Environments offers both homeowners and businesses pest management and control solutions for all types of pests, from bed bugs, cockroaches and other insects to pigeons and other pest bird populations. In addition, many NYC-area businesses depend on Assured for chute cleaning and fly drain management.
Clark Pest Control Acquires Bugz-B-Gone, Stock Exterminators
Clark Pest Control, Lodi, Calif., announced in April that it had acquired two pest management companies: Paso Robles, Calif.-based Bugz-B-Gone; and Escondido, Calif.-based Stock Exterminators.
Clark Pest Control will merge the operations of both companies into its Santa Maria and San Diego service centers, respectively.
Clark said both companies had strict qualifications as to what kind of company could purchase their businesses. “It must be family-owned, it must have experience, it must be able to do all the things we do, it must be able to respond quickly to our customers’ needs, it must not be a huge company with national reach, because our customers are more than just a number, and it must also treat for termites,” said Bugz-B-Gone’s Chris Kirk.
Kirk wants to concentrate on a new business he and his wife had purchased. “After a few months, we realized that our new company, Contemporary Home Services, was taking up a lot of our time and energy,” he said. “We made a difficult decision to put Bugz-B-Gone up for sale, so that our loyal pest control customers would not be affected by our divided attention, and so that we could concentrate on building our residential and commercial cleaning business.”
In contrast, Mike and Jeanne Stock of Stock Exterminators are going to retire, they said.
Both Bugz-B-Gone and Stock Exterminators embody the type of companies that Clark Pest Control likes to acquire, the firm said. “(These two companies) managed to grow their businesses the old-fashioned way, even in a tight economy, by taking good care of their customers,” said Joe Clark, president of Clark Pest Control. “We are excited that our team will continue to provide the customers of both of those companies with the excellent pest control services they already enjoy. We’re also happy for them, because we can offer them a number of other services — termite inspection and control, damage repair work, lawn care, tree and shrub care, bird exclusion, and more.”
Clark Pest Control was founded in 1950 by Charlie Clark. The firm operates 21 regional service centers; 20 in California and one in Reno, Nevada.
Copesan Sells Portion of Holder’s Pest Solutions to ABC Home & Commercial Services
In March, Holder’s Pest Solutions, a Houston, Texas-based pest management firm owned by Copesan Services, announced the sale of its San Antonio/Austin/Corpus Christi/Rio Grande Valley region to ABC Home & Commercial Services (#14), headquartered in Austin, Texas.
Copesan retained the eastern region of Holder’s, which includes the Houston area.
Holder’s expansion throughout the years led to the firm providing service over a wide geographical area in Texas which, at times, created challenges in building route density, Copesan reported.
ABC Home & Commercial Services, a firm with facilities in Austin, Bryan/College Station, San Antonio and Corpus Christi, says the Holder’s footprint fits “nicely” with its existing footprint.
“We are excited to have the Holder’s service specialists join ABC. Depending on their service area, they will report to our branch in their area,” said ABC President Bobby Jenkins. “Integrating them into ABC will hopefully help make them more efficient in their routing and require less traveling for company meetings.
“Over time, we hope to expand into the areas that Holder’s services where we don’t actually have a facility, such as Waco and the Valley in South Texas,” Jenkins added.
With the purchase, Jenkins’ firm is now a primary Copesan service partner.
“We have been looking at becoming part of the Copesan network for a couple of years,” Jenkins said. “Of course with Holder’s servicing our trade areas we felt there was not much opportunity for additional business. So now that we have the Holder’s trade area to combine with ours, we feel there is tremendous opportunity for growth.
“In addition, our interest in joining Copesan also had to do with joining a top-notch group of pest management companies and learning from the entire network. As ABC has continued to diversify its service line, we wanted to make sure that we maintained a significant focus on pest management. Being part of the Copesan network will give us access to some of the best training in the industry and allow us to meet with and learn from some of the most progressive companies in the industry,” Jenkins added.
Copesan says the move allows it to focus more on its Houston market, and the immediate surrounding areas.
“Streamlining the scope of Holder’s Pest Solutions to focus on the Houston area is strategically the right move to grow our business and continue providing first-class service to our clients,” said Deni Naumann, president of Copesan Services.
ABC hired all of Holder’s employees in the region (eight technicians, one sales person and one service supervisor).
“The change has been minimal for clients,” Naumann added. “They have been seeing the same technician who serviced the account — only now with a different logo on their uniforms and trucks.”
The sale occurred quickly — the deal was only in the works about six weeks before it was announced. Naumann made the announcement in person to the Holder’s staff.
“I met with the 10 people impacted and, after I met with them, Bobby Jenkins and the ABC team joined us,” Naumann said. “The overall reaction of the team was ‘Wow, we’re going to have a strong, local team closer by, with stronger support than having to drive into Houston for meetings.”
Copesan, an alliance of pest management companies that provides commercial pest management services to national accounts, owns and operates two pest management companies — Holder’s Pest Solutions and Wil-Kil Pest Control, based in Sun Prairie, Wis. Wil-Kil Pest Control is #38 on the PCT Top 100 with revenues of more than $18 million.
Copesan purchased Holder’s in 1983 from founder Lonnie Holder. — Jodi Dorsch
Hulett Recruitment Videos Bring the Best
It’s clear that Tim Hulett, president and CEO of Hulett Environmental Services in South Florida, knows pest control. But he also knows the best ways to attract top talent to an industry that may not be an employee’s first choice.
“No one ever goes to college and says, ‘I want to be in the pest control industry,’” said Barry Murray, president and CEO of the advertising and public relations firm Murray Group. However, Murray had an idea that he said would help Hulett stand out and draw the best employees to pest management.
“Like any other company, we’re a growing company and we’re always looking for the best assets,” said Murray. “Our human assets are our most important assets.”
Murray said that many of Hulett’s top employees come as referrals from current employees, so he and Hulett attempted to push the boundaries of that theory through an online employee recruitment video featuring real Hulett employees.
The five-minute and 18-second video depicts a Hulett employee on his first day, excited about starting a career path in pest control. Throughout the video, current employees share their employment experiences at Hulett with not only the new employee, but also the viewer. The video outlines the training opportunities, benefits and the work environment at Hulett.
The video just took one day to shoot and about a week to edit. Murray’s production team handled these tasks, and the only hired actor cast in the video is the employee on his first day. The rest of the individuals featured are authentic Hulett employees.
“That’s what we really wanted, was actual Hulett employees to tell their stories,” said Murray. The video features a wide range of members of the Hulett team, from technicians and corporate sales managers to customer service associates and service supervisors.
“We have a very big cross section of people in the video,” said Murray. “There was someone for everyone to relate to.”
Although Hulett, his marketing director, marketing manager and the actor all had scripted parts in the video, the interviews with current employees, which were done off the cuff, were most important to the video.
“It’s just like business, you have the boss and we listen to the boss because we have to, but who do we really listen to?” said Murray. “We listen to our peer leaders, the guy sitting next to us.”
Murray said this sincerity of the video is what really makes it stand out, and serves as a powerful introduction to Hulett for job seekers.
Tim Hulett said although it is impossible to measure the direct effect the video had on the number of applicants or hires, he believes it was successful in motivating interested individuals to take the next step and apply.
“What it did do was actually drive them to call back — not email — call,” said Hulett.
According to Hulett, the human resources department was taken aback at how many people actually took the time to call back after watching the video to say, “That was amazing.”
Hulett is so confident in the video that he said the returns over just a few years will more than pay for the approximate $5,500 of production costs. He said he would consider creating another video in the future, however, this one will remain relevant for six to eight years.
Murray said he has seen similar recruitment videos in other industries, but has yet to see another in the pest control industry.
“You have to be unique with how you seek out the best people, because he who has the best people wins,” said Murray.
Hulett agreed and said that the desire to bring the best and brightest to his company was the underlying motivation for the video, which dovetails with the company’s concentration on finding employees through online job postings and its website.
“We have been growing and the only thing that could stifle that growth was not having the human capital,” he said. “That was really the underlying motivation of it all.” — Laura Straub, PCT contributor
Arrow Environmental Services: On Target for Big Growth
One of the companies on PCT’s Top 100 list that has been making a lot of noise in recent years is Sarasota, Fla.-based Arrow Environmental Services, a private equity-backed firm that has made 39 acquisitions since 2010.
On Jan. 31, Arrow Environmental acquired Bug Out Service, a $15.6 million company based in Jacksonville, Fla.; it was Arrow Environmental’s largest and highest profile acquisition to date. (Editor’s note: The revenues reported by Arrow Environmental for this year’s PCT Top 100 list, $13.6 million, do not include the Bug Out acquisition, which closed in 2014.)
“This is a game changer for us,” said Joe Finney, CEO of Arrow Environmental Services. Bug Out is a highly regarded company and well established brand (founded in 1963). John Sessions purchased the business in 1965 and ran it until 1998, when the daily operations were transferred to his daughter and son-in-law, Caren and Paul Felker.
The Bug Out deal came on the heels of a busy 2013 for Arrow Environmental, which made 15 acquisitions, including the November 2013 purchase of Skyline Pest Solutions, a $5 million company based in Atlanta. Arrow Environmental now has three platform companies for expansion: Arrow Environmental Services on the west coast of Florida; Bug Out Service in the Jacksonville, Fla., area; and Skyline Pest Solutions in the Atlanta area.
As a result of these acquisitions, the company restructured its management team, bringing former Terminix executive Finney on board as CEO. Bill Hurd moved into the role of chief operating officer and president, working with Finney and Arrow Chairman George Pickhardt to manage the company going forward.
Arrow Environmental’s growth can be traced to 2005 when Pickhardt turned his attention to acquiring other companies. (Previously, the company’s major growth engine was termite pre-construction work.) One of the ways Pickhardt has been able to successfully integrate newly purchased businesses is by using a non-traditional payout structure for many of its acquisitions.
According to a 2012 article in the Florida Business Observer, “Instead of the traditional way, which is a down payment followed by a holdback clause if the acquired business struggles, Pickhardt went positive. He now writes sale contracts on an incentive basis. Arrow makes a down payment to the seller, and then offers a percentage guarantee on every retained, or new customer. The down payment-incentive usually works on an inverted basis. For example, if Arrow puts 75 percent down on a business it buys, the incentive payout, which can last a year, could be 25 percent. A 25 percent down payment would normally have a 75 percent incentive guarantee.”
Arrow’s growth really accelerated in 2010 when it became a portfolio company of Concentric Equity Partners, a private investment firm based in Chicago. In the three-plus years since Arrow partnered with Concentric, the pace of growth for Arrow Environmental has far exceeded expectations, according to Ken Hooten, managing partner at Concentric Equity Partners.
“Arrow is the most prolific company out there right now,” Hooten said. “The way they’ve been able to attract quality pest control providers — and this really is due to George’s reputation — is mind-numbingly beyond what I thought it would be.”
Retention is Key.
Hooten said there are three main areas Arrow Environmental Services focuses on when making an acquisition: (1) employee retention; (2) customer retention; and (3) treating owners (sellers) right.
“The retention numbers are ridiculously good, and that’s why it works,” Hooten says. “The DNA of this company is that if anyone leaves us we ask ‘What mortal failure have we made?’ and that’s why we love companies like Bug Out. They are the same way.”
Finney, who served on the Arrow Board of Directors for three-and-a-half years prior to taking over as CEO, also stressed that retention is a pillar of the company’s foundation.
“If your retention starts to slide, that is a warning sign that you are not doing something right,” he said. “Right now, we have an amazing retention rate, even through the acquisitions and all of the organic sales that we’ve brought on board. We’ve really got great momentum as we move forward.”
Finney said one of the benefits of retaining customers is by doing so, you are provided opportunities to cross-sell services. Towards that goal, Arrow Environmental has created an advisory board — comprised of key Arrow employees with an ownership stake in the business — that meets several times a year to develop and refine best management practices, not only for cross-selling but for a variety of practices. “We’ll take on a menu of tough issues in terms of types of services we offer; bundling services; how we compensate people; how we market; which organic sales programs we’ll follow. The goal is to have two to three days of meaningful meetings in which the members of the advisory board will gain as much as they contribute.”
A Flexible Structure.
Finney said Arrow Environmental Services is different from some large, national companies in that it does not plan to standardize all of its systems and processes.
“With some of the big companies you just plug everything into their systems, and there might be some collateral damage along the way in the form of lost customers,” he said. “What we do differently is continually evaluate what we should centralize and what we should leave de-centralized with focus on what is best for our customers.”
This flexibility is one of the reasons Skyline Managing Partner Brian Butler found Arrow Environmental to be an attractive buyer. “We are termite, pest and wildlife and 98 percent is residential,” said Butler who has remained on at Skyline as its president. “At the end of the day you’ve got differing markets between Atlanta, Jacksonville, and west and central Florida. What works in Florida may not necessarily work up here in Atlanta.”
For example, both Arrow Environmental and Bug Out offer lawn care services, but Skyline does not; Skyline is not forced to offer lawn care, but at the same time it has resources available to explore this service (or other services).
“We created a brand from scratch that no one ever knew in the Atlanta market, and to continue that with the same team…that was one of the reasons why I decided to join forces with the Arrow Environmental team,” he said.
Paul Felker, longtime president of Bug Out Service, echoed similar sentiments. When Felker sold Bug Out to Arrow Environmental Services an important consideration was finding a buyer that had compatible cultures and whose foundation was taking care of employees and customers. “I feel like our people look at this as an opportunity to join together with another company that shares similar cultures, and where we can work together to grow the business and create our own opportunities,” Felker said.
With a core group of accomplished pest management professionals operating from three successful platform companies, and with plenty of available cash, Arrow Environmental Services is a company to watch.
“We’re not in this to build something and dump it — we are in it for the long term,” Finney said. “We have plans to build it as big as we can build it. We’re here to create opportunities for the right entrepreneurs — those who maybe haven’t grown as much as they would have liked to over the years — to capitalize from a strategy of selective acquisitions along with good organic growth, and best practices from proven operators.” — Brad Harbison
Northwest Exterminating: Making ‘Green’ Stick
It takes a special effort to create a truly successful “green” program. Though environmental awareness has permeated the industry in recent years, a truly holistic green program is certainly not run-of-the-mill.
That same thought occurred to Northwest Exterminating.
“Really and truly, we were looking for ways to make us better and differentiate ourselves from our competition,” said Stanford Phillips, vice president of business development for the Marietta, Ga.-based pest control firm. NorPest Green, the company’s green program, grew from that idea. Fueled by diligent workshopping and hard work, NorPest Green has become a successful venture for the firm.
The program utilizes botanicals and earth-based products, is fully customizable for the customer, and importantly, it’s just as effective as traditional pest control, the company reports. As well, Phillips said that the drive to make NorPest Green work for Northwest has positively impacted company culture.
Trial and Error.
While some might say that “green” pest control, IPM and other environmentally friendly practices might be something of a fad, Northwest Exterminating undertook these initiatives as a “way to live,” Phillips said. While the company had been using a handful of green products before starting the four-month process of developing its NorPest Green program, he said it was far from the comprehensive approach the firm now employs. “We had it as a service, but it wasn’t something we had put much thought into or gotten behind,” Phillips said.
Northwest sought inspiration outside the pest control industry in developing the program, looking no further than Whole Foods Market, a widely respected organic food retailer, when establishing NorPest Green. Whole Foods has carved out an impressive market niche and garnered national attention through its commitment to stewardship, sustainability and locally-sourced food, a winning business strategy for modern-day consumers.
“We looked at that model,” Phillips said. “If you go (to Whole Foods), they’re selling a premium product that isn’t cheap, but they’re always crowded. In Atlanta at that time, they had opened a few stores, and we knew there was a market in Atlanta for green.”
Phillips said that Northwest knew Whole Foods was onto something: green wasn’t just a blip on the radar that was going away anytime soon. Northwest saw the opportunity to meet the needs of a similar client base who bought their groceries at a place like Whole Foods.
But that was only the beginning. Once Northwest decided upon the direction, the firm took no shortcuts in ensuring the new program would be extensively tried and tested. Northwest put together an in-house team to develop the program, and brought in key influencers from every arm of the company: service center managers, marketing representatives and technical staff. “We all had a part in it, and everybody had certain responsibilities,” Phillips said.
The company’s technical director and staff entomologists went to work on developing specific protocols using specific products. After much trial and error, the company pinned down specifics on how to handle each pest. “If we have issues with ants, this is what we do, this is how we monitor, etc.,” Phillips added. “We probably spent a good two months on the testing before we started releasing it to our team, because we knew they were going to be skeptical. We wanted to make sure that we had the answers for everything.”
With the nuts and bolts in place, the firm needed to get it off the ground. And before they could begin marketing the new program to customers, Phillips said they needed to make the Northwest staff excited about NorPest Green.
“We spent a lot of time doing internal marketing, getting buy-in from our team, getting them excited,” Phillips said. “We feel like that’s the best way to create buzz externally: create buzz internally.”
Northwest kicked off the program with events for employees, and gave out buttons that read: “What Color Is Your Pest Control?” Phillips said the company held internal contests for who could sell the most new green contracts, who could convert the most customers to the new green service and more.
External marketing included a radio spot featuring an endorser who had just had a baby — Phillips said it tied in well with the company’s strategy to appeal to a “motherly instinct” in parents who are concerned about what their children are exposed to. The company also wanted to appeal to folks with pets. “If you treat (customers’) pets right, that means a lot to them,” Phillips added.
The NorPest Green program has been a boon for the company since it was established, and has allowed Northwest to make inroads into markets that it hadn’t previously been able to crack into.
Before launching the program, Phillips said Northwest’s business model had been based in the real estate and builder markets. “NorPest Green took us directly to the consumer,” he said. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, with new construction homebuilding increasing sharply, particularly in the Atlanta area, the firm had been providing numerous pretreatments and new construction treatments. Once 2008 hit, homebuilding fell off a cliff and was no longer a source of business for Northwest. “Luckily we had already transitioned to NorPest Green, which allowed us to continue to grow,” Phillips said. He said that NorPest Green enabled the company to break further into the residential, general household pest market, whereas prior, much of the company’s residential work was for termites.
The response has been good. About 58 percent of all Northwest’s pest control business is NorPest Green. And about 80 percent of all new sales are green services, Phillips reports. Customers also appreciate the fact that Northwest now has several years of experience providing effective green service, Phillips said.
But it’s not just revenue and business pluses.
“It’s really changed our culture overall,” Phillips said. “Green is who we are, it’s what we offer, and our purpose is to help create a healthier working and living environment. We’re out there with the purpose of leaving that home or business knowing that we’ve created a healthier environment for that family. That makes it personal.”
Arrow Exterminators Celebrates ‘50 Years Young’
This year marks the 50th anniversary for Atlanta-based Arrow Exterminators. Started in the back room of a beauty parlor in 1964 by founders Imogene and Starkey Thomas, Arrow has grown to be a $135 million company serving 11 states.
Their son, Joe Thomas, is now the chairman of the board with his daughter Emily Thomas Kendrick, the third generation, serving as president and CEO.
“We are so proud to be ‘50 years young,’” said Kendrick. “This anniversary marks not only a milestone but provides a foundation supporting our longevity, staying power and success for generations to come.
“Some folks may tell us that passing this on to the next generation and generations to follow is just not possible,” continued Kendrick. “And do you know what we say? ‘You wanna bet?’ By maintaining our culture and hiring the best people we feel this is just the beginning. We have in place the building blocks to continue to grow to $200 million and beyond for generations to come.”
Highlights of the 50th anniversary celebration include opportunities for every employee to be part of this celebration, including regional family picnics, a Golden Anniversary Gala, banners lining the main boulevard in Atlanta, service projects and more.
Kendrick went on to say, “We need to remember our roots and how this company was built. We are engrained in each community that we serve and that is why as part of our 50th anniversary celebration we will also be challenging all 1,265 employees to give back to their communities by donating 50 hours of service over the year-long celebration. Our ‘50 for 50’ employee challenge, together with their families, will generate about 50,000 hours of community service.”
Several notable acquisitions occurred north of the border last year. Terminix entered the Canadian market by buying Magical Pest Control in Toronto and Care Pest & Wildlife Control in Burnaby, B.C. Rentokil North America bought Steve’s Pest Management in Chatham, Ont., and Prairie Professional Pest Control in Calgary. (It acquired Braemar Services of Bedford, N.S., in June 2012.)
Orkin Canada continued to expand its footprint. So did The Steritech Group and Ecolab.
What’s driving this activity? “Everybody is focused on the national accounts,” said Gary Muldoon, president of Orkin Canada. Big box stores are opening up in metros like Toronto, as well as small towns eight hours north, he explained. Not all companies have networks capable of servicing remote locations; acquisitions help them do so while building route density, Muldoon added.
Rentokil North America plans “to continue our expansion across Canada,” said President John Myers in an email. Active in Ontario for more than 30 years, the company made five strategic acquisitions in the last two years. Revenue more than doubled; the company now has offices in and provides service to seven of the 10 provinces, he said.
The Canadian economy is strong, and Canadian pest management companies generally provide excellent, professional service with a top-quality workforce, Myers added.
Ecolab Pest Elimination had double-digit growth in Canada, said Global Marketing Vice President Ravi Raghavapudi in an email. With its other divisions, Ecolab serves global and local customers all over Canada. The company expects “to continue to grow our business there,” Raghavapudi said.
Steven Tsambalieros, president of Steritech’s Canadian business, said the market represents about 12 percent of company revenue. Steritech expanded its footprint over the past three years and is now a national provider. As “our clients grow their businesses throughout North America, they increasingly value a single partner that provides the same level of exceptional service across borders,” Tsambalieros said in an email.
With a bigger footprint, “you become the company of choice,” said Muldoon. Clients know you’re not going to subcontract, and you can respond quickly because you have a local presence, he said. In 2014, Orkin Canada expects to hit $105 million in revenue through organic growth and acquisitions, said Muldoon.
A challenge: The limited number of Canadian companies with revenues of $3 million. Acquisition activity in Canada will continue as long as there are companies of size willing to sell, Muldoon said.
According to a 2013 IBISWorld report, pest management in Canada is a $378 million industry. The commercial market makes up 80 percent of industry revenue. Through 2018, IBISWorld forecasts the number of Canadian pest control companies to increase at an annualized rate of 3 percent to 824 companies. — Anne Nagro
PestMaster Services Celebrates 35th Anniversary
In 35 years, PestMaster Services has gone from a one-office pest control firm to a thriving $6-million-a-year business that has become one of the pest control industry’s models when it comes to growth through franchising.
On April 1, 1979, PestMaster Founder and Owner Jeff Van Diepen set up shop in the small town of Bishop, Calif., with a different sort of business model in mind.
“We determined that we wanted upward opportunity for our employees and wanted them to have the ability to ‘grow and prosper’ in our unique service model,” he said. “Employees are encouraged to become future franchise owners, at the time they are hired, and we’ve structured a 50 percent discount for them to accomplish this and reach their goals.”
Throughout the years Reno-Nev.-based PestMaster Services has refined its franchise model and Van Diepen says the company differentiates itself through several unique offerings to franchisees, including a full-time contracts department to assist franchisees to obtain state and federal business, discounted insurance, General Motors and Ford fleet accounts, protected territories and more.
Additionally, several Pestmaster franchisees serve on the firm’s board of directors, providing input and further contributing to the success of the business. These franchisees include Bart Van Diepen, Paul Alley, Wayne Holiday and JC Larson. “They’re growing the brand and have demonstrated success and commitment to our strategies for years,” said Van Diepen.
Pestmaster Services operates in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. During the last two years, PestMaster Services sold six of its offices to Terminix in order to better focus on its franchise model. “The liquidity event is consistent with every owner’s dream of becoming a self-made millionaire,” Van Diepen said. “Now our goal is to have our franchisees become millionaires too.”
Towards that end, Van Diepen announced PestMaster Services recently added a Miami, Fla., franchise, owned by Jay Rodriguez. Van Diepen said the firm has plans to add four to six more franchise partners by year-end.
PestMaster also added Mike Craven as operations manager. Craven will specialize in team-building and commercial sales. — Brad Harbison
Allgood Pest Solutions Acquires Rich Exterminators
Allgood Pest Solutions, Atlanta, recently announced the acquisition of Rich Exterminators, a Lawrenceville, Ga.-based pest control company. Founded by Howard Rich in 1989, Rich Exterminators has a solid reputation and a loyal client base and Allgood Pest Solutions is proud to add the company to their business, the firm says.
“When Howard Rich decided to retire he chose Allgood Pest Solutions to take care of his partners and his customers,” said Chuck Tindol, senior vice president of marketing and sales at Allgood Pest Solutions. “We are very excited about this opportunity and having his partners come work with us.”
Allgood Pest Solutions began in 1974 with the launch of Jimmy Allgood’s business in Dublin, Ga. In 1991, Jimmy teamed with his Uncle Red Tindol’s family-owned pest control service based in Atlanta, Ga. Over the past two decades Allgood Pest Solutions has grown significantly, now encompassing most of Georgia and Eastern Alabama; Charleston, S.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Chattanooga, Tenn.
Viking Pest Control Introduces Roach Coaches, Makes Acquisition
In an effort to turn heads and shock every driver on the road, Viking Pest Control has turned regular buses into “roach coaches” on several bus lines throughout New Jersey. It’s a fun new twist on advertising that is quickly getting a response and interacting with the public, according to Viking’s Dan Bradbury. “The intent was not only to get someone’s attention from seeing the bus, but also to act with their social media,” he said.
The Roach Coach’s design encourages pedestrians to take a picture of the bus and tweet their pics to @vikingpest with their picture of the #roachcoach for a chance to win $100. “We took a chance and surprisingly in just a few days we have already received several tweets and interactions with our customers,” Bradbury added.
Check out more on the roach coach photos at www.vikingpest.com/roachcoach.
In other news, the firm announced the acquisition of the accounts of Accent Pest Services. “We are very excited to continue to develop our rapidly growing footprint in the Southern New Jersey/Philadelphia marketplace. The customers in this acquisition will blend well with our current business model and we look forward to continuing to provide the clients outstanding customer service,” said Viking’s Ryan Bradbury.
Accent Owner Todd Conine said, “When I evaluated all of my options on who to sell my business to, Viking was an easy choice. Ryan was very patient and generous with me. I also feel most confident that my customers, many of whom are personal friends, will be best taken care of by Viking due to their expertise and stellar reputation.”
“We at Viking, in 2014, foresee a great year of growth organically. However, when the opportunity to attain a well-run organization via procurement presents itself, we are ready to move on that as well. Our plan is to continue to grow by our own internal efforts and acquisition when the fit is right,” added Dan Bradbury.
Action Pest Control Announces Circle City and Bull’s Eye Acquisitions
Action Pest Control, Evansville, Ind., announced on April 1 the acquisition of Indianapolis-based Circle City Pest Control. The acquisition marks the largest for Action Pest Control.
“After considering several other companies, we felt that our values and services were a great fit with Action’s,” said Marion Hall, owner of Circle City.
Action Pest Control has existing branch offices in Washington and Indianapolis, Ind., as well as Lexington, Louisville and Owensboro, Ky.; and Robinson, Ill.
“Circle City has a strong reputation in the Indianapolis area and we are excited to build relationships with their clients and provide expanded opportunities for the Circle City employees,” said Kevin C. Pass, president, Action Pest Control.
Earlier this year, Action also announced the acquisition of Bull’s Eye Pest Control, Louisville, Ky. “We’re looking forward to expanding our foothold in the Louisville market and Bull’s Eye’s solid presence affords us a great opportunity to do that,” said Pass.
Massey Services: How We Do It
When it comes to running a successful business, there are few who have more knowledge and experience than Harvey Massey.
Editor’s note: At GIE Media’s Accredited Snow Contractors Association meeting last August, well-known PMP Harvey Massey was the keynote speaker, giving a presentation on “How to Succeed in the Service Industry.” One of the industry’s iconic figures, Massey shared the management principles that have served as the foundation for Massey Services’ succcess, as well as a few of the lessons he has learned throughout his distinguished career. A feature about his presentation appeared in Lawn & Landscape magazine earlier this year. That article is excerpted here.
According to Harvey Massey, an important part of creating and growing a business is to build a basic company foundation that involves four key management disciplines: image, planning and budgeting, hiring and training.
Elevate the Appearance.
The first step a company needs to take is to work on its image.
“Everybody in this room, at one time or another, has heard the old expression that you only get one chance to make a great first impression,” Massey says.
The most obvious first impression a company gives its customers are with its team members and fleet. Feeling he needed an upgrade, Massey developed a uniform program and put all team members in brand new uniforms. The company did a similar thing with its fleet, which Massey described at the time as having been in “deplorable condition,” and purchased 68 new vehicles.
This is important said Massey, because in the service business, “if you don’t get the look right, you’ll never get the act right. The public, as well as the people on your payroll, will believe more about what they see, than by what you say.”
Know the Numbers.
The company next had to set up budgeting criteria. “A lot of companies budget from the top down, but we budget from the bottom up,” Massey says. “To budget from the bottom up, you get the ideas, the concepts and the plans from the people below. Budgeting is not someone sitting down, saying ‘Well, we’re going to do this much revenue, we’re going to spend this much money, and what’s left over is called operating profit.’
“Budgets are put together from the bottom up and budgets are used, not only as a planning device/discipline, but are used as an educational tool to teach our people how this all fits together.” To this day, the company budgets every trimester.
“Budgets are based on a set of operating standards and goals, which reflect how the 100 pennies in a dollar are allocated and spent,” he says. “We have daily productivity standards, which minimize travel and maximize service time and, finally, we have new sales rate cards which determine how we price our service.”
Build the Team.
After the image and the budget, focus on finding employees. “We trained our managers on interviewing and hiring techniques,” Massey says. “We backed it all up with three levels of approvals on every new hire and termination, and to this very day everyone who is hired or terminated, goes through three levels of approval, from the service center, to the region, to the executive vice president’s office.”
Paint the Picture.
The fourth and final corner of a company’s foundation is training. The company also created job descriptions for every job in the company, something that hadn’t been created before.
“Our job descriptions lay out the primary responsibilities and the duties of the job,” Massey says. “We constantly reminded our managers that training is an ongoing and never-ending process, and from day one when we put someone on our payroll, we teach and train all our managers to take the people through what we call the critical levels of the learning process.”
“Whether you are dealing with your family, your community, your religion or your business, I’m personally convinced that when you take a lot out, it’s important to put something back in,” Massey said. “In other words, you can’t go through life with catcher’s mitts on both hands — sooner or later you have to throw something back.” — Katie Tuttle, Lawn & Landscape magazine