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[2012 Leadership Awards] Tony Massey

Features - 2012 Leadership Awards

Discipline, hard work and lifelong learning are the keys to success for this Second-Generation Florida PMP.

PCT Magazine | October 19, 2012

At a young age Tony Massey learned a valuable lesson on what it takes to reach the next level of success: Do the things you should do, when you should do them, even when you don’t want to do them.

For Massey, the 46-year-old president and COO of Massey Services, following this simple mantra provides him with the discipline and motivation required to help lead the nation’s fifth largest pest management company.

“My sisters and I learned the definition of discipline from our father,” Massey says. “It was a standing rule in our house to make yourself do what you ought to do when you ought to do it whether you want to do it or not.”

Massey took this lesson to heart, and it has become part of his business DNA ever since. That DNA also includes a collection of life lessons from his father, Harvey L. Massey – chairman and CEO of Massey Services and the Leadership Class of 1992 – who built Massey Services into one of the nation’s premier pest management and lawn care organizations.

Even though Tony Massey includes his father as one of his most influential mentors, he doesn’t feel like the typical second-generation pest management professional. He says he “grew up around the business,” not in it.

Massey worked in the pest control industry as a teenager during his father’s stint as an executive with Terminix (Harvey Massey also spent time as an executive with Orkin Pest Control before buying Walker Chemical & Exterminating in 1985 and renaming the company), but, as a teenager, he wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. “That was after my first career aspiration of being an NHL player didn’t pan out,” Massey says.


Name: Tony Massey

Company: Massey Services

Headquarters: Orlando, Fla.

Title: President and Chief Operating Officer

Career Highlights: University of Alabama (B.S. Corporate Finance); OPM Key Executives Program at Harvard School of Business Administration; Rollins College Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business (Executive MBA); Professional Pest Management Alliance, Board of Directors; Orlando Museum of Art Board, Incoming President; Florida Citrus Sports Board, Incoming President; Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission Board of Directors, Executive Committee; active in Autism Speaks.

Personal: Married, Jann; children, Sean, Colin, Bryan and Aidan; enjoys being outdoors with his family fishing, boating, kayaking, camping and going to Little League games; an avid reader of magazines, newspapers and books.

He enrolled at the University of Alabama with the intention of becoming a surgeon but soon discovered a greater affinity for his math courses. This led to a change in majors and the pursuit of a degree in corporate finance.

After graduating in 1989, Massey eyed the corporate banking world but decided it wasn’t for him. He then looked back home and thought about giving the family business a try.

“My father never pressured me to join the company, and I came on board as a management trainee in the finance department,” says Massey. “He (my father) was very good about creating a separate path to let me find my way in the company.”

After crunching numbers and becoming director of administration and personnel, he decided there was more to the pest business than P&L statements and employment packages. He wanted to have more skin in the game, so he moved to the operations side of the organization on January 1, 1993, as the general manager of the new Kissimmee service center – a position he recalls fondly.

“Being a general manager was a very enjoyable position because everything was your problem to solve and your success to enjoy,” says Massey. “You can touch every aspect of the operation on a daily basis and really see change taking place.”

In 1994, Massey was named regional manager for the company’s South Region and PrevenTech (Massey’s commercial services division). Four years later he took over as regional manager of the Central Florida region, the company’s largest operating area.

It was in these roles that Massey encountered some of the most challenging tests but also learned some of the most important lessons of his young career.

“This was the era before mobile phones and iPads, and you didn’t have the instantaneous contact with the day-to-day operations you have now,” he says. “Once you set a policy or operating procedure in place, it stayed that way until you visited the service center again.”

As a hands-on manager, this arrangement provided Massey with a rapid learning curve. He says the experience taught him how to become a better teacher and has influenced him to make sure the company devotes the necessary time and resources to developing its management team.

“We spend a lot of time with our up-and-coming managers teaching them how to manage their time, handle the high volume of information they have access to and how to be life developers,” Massey says.

The Evolution of a Manager

When asked about his leadership style, Massey says he is not sure he has a definable one.

“What I have learned is that you need to shift your style to the person you are dealing with,” he says. “Find out what affects them, what motivates them, what’s important to them and adjust to that.”

Tony Massey (left) and his father, Harvey Massey, have both been honored with PCT Crown Leadership Awards.

A tenet by which Massey abides without fail is that getting ahead in your career is tied directly to the effort you put forth. “Everyone has 24 hours in a day, so no one can outwork you,” says Massey.

He believes that too many people – including managers – don’t take the time to analyze and understand their strengths and weaknesses as their careers advance.

Massey had a manager whom he promoted before the individual was ready for the added responsibilities. After a year, he had to demote the person, who wound up leaving the company. “I was afraid to lose the person if I didn’t promote him, but I should have worked with him on his weaknesses to prepare him for future opportunities,” Massey says.

The lesson Massey learned was to be good for people and not just good to people. He says doing more to help people grow, expand their skills and learn what they do best, helps both the individual and the company in the long run.

“You can’t manage what you don’t know, and as a manager you need to understand why people do what they do,” says Massey. “It’s not easy but you have to constantly work at it.”

Massey says a speaker at the company’s annual Mid-Year Leadership Conference left him with some words of wisdom when it came to setting a work/life balance. The speaker gave the example of parents at a youth sporting event and how many spend most of the time checking e-mail or sending texts on their mobile phones versus watching the game.

“I was one of those parents until I realized that my children see that. This speaker taught me to ‘be in the moment’ and be fully engaged in what you are doing whether it is for an hour or three hours. When I go to a game now, I watch the game,” says Massey. “Once you strike a balance in your career and personal life, you feel better and can accomplish more.”

Key Mentors
Over the course of his career, Massey says, he has been fortunate to have several influential mentors, starting with the man with whom he shared a dinner table growing up. The younger Massey says he experienced the usual evolution of the parent-child relationship with his father.

Celebrating Massey Services’ 2012 Top 100 Award are (left to right) Executive Vice President Ed Dougherty, President and COO Tony Massey, Chairman and CEO Harvey L. Massey and CFO Gwyn Elias.

“When I was 25, I knew everything; and by the age of 35, I figured out I knew nothing,” he says with a laugh. “My father has always provided important life lessons, and when I opened up to them as I got older, they had their greatest impact.”

He also points to two Massey Services colleagues – Executive Vice President and CFO Gwyn Elias and the late Dave Armstrong – as providing him with valuable lessons. “Gwyn Elias taught me to slow down when I started out in the finance department and to fully analyze your options,” says Massey, who admits that waiting on things is not in his makeup. “He told me, ‘Good decisions require time,’ and that has stuck with me.”

The other mentor Massey points to is the late Dave Armstrong. Armstrong was Massey Services’ director of administration for whom Tony worked after his transition to operations.

“Dave had a very detailed mind and would ask you to do things that seemed crazy at the time,” Massey says. “He taught me the value of working side by side with people, and that if you step out in front and lead by example, people will follow.”

Service Culture

A significant part of the Massey Services’ culture revolves around giving back to the communities it serves. It has been part of the company’s mission statement from day one, and it is not just words on a plaque hanging in the reception area.

Massey Services is an ardent supporter of education and patron of the arts, not only in central Florida, but in all regions in which the company operates.

“We take a lot out of the communities we serve, and we need to give back,” Massey says. “Our executive team is required to serve on boards in their communities, and if one of our team members gets behind a cause, the company stands behind them as well.”

With an internal motor that goes full throttle, Massey continuously looks for ways to carry out the vision his father has set for the company and its 1,300 team members.

“We are always looking to get the most from our team members and see if we can all do a little more each day,” says Massey.

When asked what has been more of a challenge: helping build the company to its present position or maintaining that spot, Massey says the hardest part of the journey is getting where you want to go next.

“We don’t spend a lot of time talking about yesterday,” he says. “It’s more where will we be tomorrow and how will we get there. We are always changing, evolving, and continuing to push forward.”

Speaking Up For Autism

Did you know autism affects one in 88 children and one in 54 boys? Did you know it is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the United States? And would you be surprised that autism receives less than 5 percent of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases?

For a man who has built a successful career learning to analyze and work with numbers, this particular set of numbers does not add up. When Tony Massey and his family discovered their 13-year-old son, Colin, had autism, it opened their eyes.

“It is a very prevalent condition in this country and growing every day,” he says. “We were fortunate that Colin was diagnosed early and that we were able to provide him with the care he needs.”

Massey believes his son’s condition is “God’s way of teaching him patience; a virtue not readily found in the family DNA,” he says with a laugh.

“It tested my patience on a daily basis at the beginning and now I have learned to adapt,” says Massey. “I am fortunate to have married a very patient woman and be able to do what’s necessary for my son and family.”

What frustrates Massey is the lack of resources available to help families with children diagnosed with autism. “It is hard to find good, affordable care, and money is needed to help families out who don’t have the resources,” he says. “There are parents who can never enjoy an evening out, and it is painful to see what some families go through.”

Massey said the spectrum of the condition is quite broad and that treatment solutions vary greatly from child to child. In the past, this wide range of symptoms has often caused autism to be misdiagnosed.

After his son was diagnosed, he became a tireless advocate for autism and is deeply involved in Autism Speaks, the national non-profit organization leading the charge in autism science and advocacy.

Last November, Massey and more than 250 Massey Services team members participated in the “Walk Now for Autism” event in Orlando. The event set out to raise money for research into the causes, prevention, treatments and, ultimately, a cure for autism.

“People still can’t get their arms around autism,” says Massey. “Progress is being made in raising funds, but we are still a few years away from it really being out there in the public’s eye.” If you would like to learn more about autism and how to help raise funds or awareness, please visit