Chuck Fallon, former president of Burger King North America, takes the helm of one of the industry’s iconic brands with the goal of driving revenue growth and enhancing the customer experience. Learn more about Fallon and his plans for Terminix moving forward in this exclusive interview with PCT magazine.
Upon meeting Chuck Fallon for the first time you can’t help but be impressed by his unbridled enthusiasm for both the current and future prospects of Terminix, one of the industry’s iconic brands and a company that has spawned generations of pest management professionals. He’s clearly a man on a mission.
Graced with a million-dollar smile and boundless energy, the 49-year-old former investment banker, after an exhaustive search, was hand-picked by ServiceMaster CEO Hank Mullany to drive the company’s pest control business. Fortunately, Fallon is no stranger to lofty business expectations.
Prior to joining Terminix, Fallon served as president of Burger King North America, where he helped turn around the struggling fast food chain with a refranchising and reimaging program. “I’m thrilled that an executive with Chuck’s background is joining ServiceMaster,” Mullany said shortly after Fallon was named to lead the 85-year-old company last year. “Chuck is a results-oriented leader with more than two decades of experience in driving business growth, transforming customer experiences and developing strong teams.”
Fallon has extensive experience driving revenue and managing business operations at some of the country’s most recognized brands, including Avis Rental Car where he oversaw international sales, corporate pricing and sales development. He’s been able to build on those experiences since joining Terminix by leveraging the extensive industry experience of Larry Pruitt, vice president of operations, and a man well-versed in all aspects of the pest control business.
This 26-year industry veteran has done and seen it all while methodically rising through the ranks at Terminix, serving as Fallon’s eyes and ears in the field, while acting as a sounding board for the former college strong safety who has exhibited a highly competitive nature throughout his multi-faceted career. Their complementary skill sets should serve Terminix well if Pruitt’s enthusiastic endorsement for Fallon proves prescient.
“Chuck has really delivered a lot of new energy and focus to the team,” Pruitt said. “He came into the business full-speed ahead and evaluated the organization very quickly.”
Following his evaluation earlier this year — which included Fallon riding along with technicians on service calls, meeting with each member of the company’s management team and visiting the Terminix call centers — the energetic executive was eager to get started, working side-by-side with his down-to-earth industry colleague.
“Chuck and I have really meshed into our roles,” Pruitt observed. “One thing that has made that transition easy is his respect for our people. We have an abundance of good people in the field. What people remember about us is not the technology we’ve deployed in the field or the way our trucks look; it’s the people who come through their front door. How our people deliver our promise every day is really important to us.”
It’s also important to the pest management industry which, despite the inevitable sniping, looks to national brands like Terminix to drive the marketplace, invest in innovation and shape public perceptions about the important role pest management professionals play in protecting the public’s health and property.
“My mission is to grow our presence in every line of our business,” Fallon told the Memphis Commercial Appeal earlier this year. “The way we’re going to do that is through superior customer service, innovation and technology.”
“The fact of the matter is, Terminix has proven itself over the years, growing as an organization,” Fallon said. “It’s a testament to the power of the people in this organization and the customer experience we deliver. The challenge is to take that platform — that strong foundation — and create a dynamic growth trajectory for the business in the years ahead.”
Only time will tell, of course, if Fallon’s “type A” personality and strategic vision will translate into bottom-line success, but if the company’s recent purchase of Schendel Pest Services, a widely respected Copesan Partner company based in America’s heartland is any indication, Terminix plans to aggressively pursue every market opportunity (see related story on page 123).
PCT magazine recently traveled to Memphis, Tenn., home of Terminix International, to learn more about Fallon’s plans for the company. Excerpts of that one-hour interview follow.
Q: Could you please share some of your personal history with our readers?
Sure. I’ll start off by saying at one time I had a full head of hair (laughter). I’m originally from Texas. I come from a middle class, hard-working family. My father owned a retail store where I worked while in high school and where I learned many of my first customer service lessons. We liked to say we were open seven days a week and on Sunday too. I learned a lot about hard work and how to provide quality customer service from my father. I stayed in Texas through college and ended up in New York City at Columbia University, where I got my MBA, and I never really went back to Texas.
Q: Why did you decide to stay in New York after earning your MBA?
The Fallon File
Name: Charles “Chuck” Fallon
Company: Terminix International
Headquarters Location: Memphis, Tenn.
Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Accounting and Finance, McMurry University, Abilene, Texas; MBA, Finance, Columbia University Graduate School of Business, New York, N.Y.
Career Highlights: President, Terminix International, December 2011-Present; President, Burger King North America, 2006-2010; Executive Vice President of Revenue Generation, Avis Budget Rental Group, Cendant Corporation, 1998-2006; Investment Banker, Salomon Smith Barney and Prudential- Bache Capital Securities, 1992-1998; elected to the McMurry University Athletic Hall of Fame, 2001.
Personal: Wife, Susan; three children, Emily, Rebecca and Carson; enjoys reading, outdoors, and spending time with family.
I became an investment banker working at Prudential-Bache Securities and later on with Smith Barney. It was during this time I was recruited by Cendant Corporation and ultimately ran sales, marketing and revenue management for Avis Rental Car, one of the brands owned by the company.
Q: What did you take away from that experience?
Part of my professional career path has been about managing local businesses. After investment banking, I ran a number of businesses with large franchise operations, where essentially people are running branch offices. That took me back to my roots working with my dad in a small business. I appreciate working with people at the ‘tip of the spear’ where customer service really matters. Whether at Burger King or Avis, every one of these businesses have been people businesses. It’s about the people. That why culturally for me Terminix is such a good fit.
Q: Who have been the most important influences in your life?
I would have to say my dad has been my biggest influence. He instilled a strong work ethic in me. He worked incredibly hard because he had to in order to survive. I learned that being an owner of a business, you’re never really off the clock. You’re thinking about it all the time. That had a huge impact on me. I also admired the fact that my dad was a doer, not a delegator. I played football from the time I was six years old until I graduated from college, where I played strong safety at McMurry University, so a number of my coaches also had a strong influence on me. They taught me the importance of teamwork, working together to achieve a common goal. I missed that as an investment banker. In investment banking, you find a deal, execute the deal and move on. I’d much rather work in an organization like Terminix that fosters teamwork. It’s much more gratifying.
Q: What has been your greatest professional disappointment?
It was when I decided to leave Cendant Corporation for Burger King. I had a fabulous career at Cendant. We accomplished a lot during that time and we had a lot of great wins, including the acquisition of Budget Rental Car, but the road had just come to an end, so that was a disappointment. I was surrounded by people I had put in various positions and we were growing as an organization, so it was tough to leave, but my career had run its course there.
Q: What has been your greatest professional accomplishment?
I think it’s the relationships I’ve developed over the years. I still talk with many of the people I worked with in my first job and every one of the subsequent jobs I’ve held. And they’re not just acquaintances; they’re close personal friends. That’s definitely something that brings me a lot of personal satisfaction and I’m grateful for those relationships, which I consider a personal treasure.
Q: After taking some time off after leaving Burger King, why did you decide to join Terminix?
That was an easy decision. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so blessed to come into an organization that is already so high performing and driven. To be able to walk into such a positive environment is pretty unique. You sure don’t want to assume you know the best way to fix something that isn’t broken.
Q: How is your position at Terminix different/similar to your most recent position at Burger King?
Terminix is by far the leader in our industry. With that comes an expectation for continued success, innovation and growth. Our people have an incredible passion for simplifying and improving the quality of our customers’ lives. This is a performance-based culture with tremendous confidence in our ability to grow our business in both the residential and commercial arenas.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style?
The first thing you have to ask yourself is, ‘What is leadership?’ It’s not about leading people; it’s about facilitating the leadership qualities in them. At one of our first leadership team meetings, I said, ‘We’re going to do this together. My job is to break down barriers; make the right kind of investment decisions; and allow you to do your job more effectively. I’m surrounded by pest control experts. We’re already very good at that side of the business, but if I can break down barriers and assist our people in enhancing the customer service experience, moving us dynamically forward, I’ll have done my job. If I can bring that to the table, then we’ll be successful.
Q: One of the key people charged with helping you accomplish that goal is Larry Pruitt, vice president of operations. How would you describe your working relationship with him?
Larry and I are very similar people. We take a thoughtful approach to the business. Sometimes I dial up my sense of emotion and urgency, which is part of my role, so I need Larry to be a sounding board. He’s really running the business day-to-day, so he has a good sense for how management decisions will impact our associates in the field. Besides, since he’s worked in the pest control industry for more than 25 years, he’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know about this business. It has been smoother jumping into something with someone who has the same thought process.
Q: Now that you’ve had some time to evaluate the business, what is the biggest challenge/opportunity for Terminix?
The challenge is to take the foundation we’ve built as a company and create a new growth trajectory for the business that is greater than the market overall. Terminix wouldn’t be where it is today without being challenged by great competitors every day, competitors we respect. But in order to continue to advance as a company we need to think differently. It’s about thinking outside the box on ways we can grow. It’s about delivering new products and services against customer needs, which requires a willingness to make the necessary investments to make that happen. The fact of the matter is, Terminix has proven itself over the years, particularly through the most recent recession, that we’re capable of growing as an organization. It’s a testament to the power of the people in this organization and the customer experience they deliver. The challenge is to take that platform, that strong foundation, and create a dynamic growth trajectory for the business in the years ahead.
Q: For Terminix, technology has been a big part of its past and future. Can you speak about the role of technology at Terminix moving forward?
We’ve been at the leading edge of innovation in the pest management industry, but it’s never easy implementing change, particularly from a technology perspective. In 2004, we introduced a centralized work order management system; in 2006, a CISCO-distributed call management system and centralized call center; in 2007, we introduced dedicated route planners; and in 2010, we provided hand-helds to our field staff. When you have 300 branch offices, that’s a tall order. We’re now in generation two of our field and automation tools, and it’s making a positive difference for both our associates and our customers, resulting in an enhanced customer service experience. We’re a mobile organization, so it’s important that when our field staff arrives at work in the morning they have access to all the customer service information they need at their fingertips to perform their jobs effectively.
Q: Speaking of technology, can you share some insights about the Terminix Commercial ScanMaster Tracking System?
ScanMaster was created to help with accountability on the data collection provided to our commercial customers. As we began the shift to our technology platform we needed a program that would allow us to capture data (i.e., barcodes on stations, insect activity, etc.) and then allow our customers to go on the portal to retrieve their account data and see trends and activity issues. It has allowed Terminix to use electronic record keeping to capture data and correlate it in a professional manner instead of producing handwritten pages of inspections and treatment results.
Q: Can you update our readers on the status of the Terminix joint venture in India? What prompted you to enter into that marketplace and what are the company’s plans to expand its global footprint?
Even before entering the joint venture with SIS in India, Terminix has been a global company with international licensees in countries such as China, South Korea, Indonesia and others. The economy in India is one of our world’s fastest growing, combined with a stable government and expanding middle class. The Indian joint venture was formed with a well-respected Indian company, SIS, who is a license holder of ServiceMaster Clean, a Terminix sister company. Terminix has been and will continue to be active and competitive in mergers and acquisitions, both domestically and internationally.
Q: When you approach the next chapter of your career, what would you like people to say about your time at Terminix?
That I helped build an even stronger, fast-growth organization that extended the leadership position Terminix has in the industry. That we were able to vastly improve our industry standard-setting customer service experience and satisfaction, and that we were able to develop an even higher performing team and built a world-class bench of talent. We have the capability of doing all those things. We simply need to take some risks and continue to invest in the business to achieve our aspirational goals.
Terminix Acquires Schendel Pest Services
Terminix recently announced it has acquired the pest and termite control service business of Topeka, Kan.-based Schendel Pest Services. Terminix is a subsidiary of The ServiceMaster Company and Schendel Services is a PCT Top 100 company (#42).
Founded in 1947, Schendel operates 10 office locations across six states, including Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Arizona and Texas — reaching commercial, industrial and residential customers and producing almost $13 million in annual revenue. Schendel Pest Services will continue to provide residential and commercial pest control services under its current name to its existing customers.
“Schendel has a rich tradition of providing superior service to its customers for almost 65 years. Their strong focus on customer excellence and loyalty is a perfect fit for our organization, and we are proud to welcome them to the Terminix family,” said Chuck Fallon, Terminix president.
This acquisition assists Terminix with the execution of its strategic goal to continue geographic expansion and grow its commercial and residential presence in the United States.
“The transition will be seamless to customers. They’ll still receive the same level of service and dedication from the company they know and trust,” Fallon said. “Schendel has built a strong reputation over the years on the foundation of its respected brand name and hard work of its associates. We are committed to providing those associates with the resources they need to offer an even greater level of customer service in the future.”
In order to help maintain consistency and continue the strong momentum the company has developed, the current Schendel president, Brent Boles, will continue to serve in that role and will report directly to Terminix Vice President of Operations Larry Pruitt.
Terminix Expands Global Footprint
Terminix’s joint venture with Security and Intelligence Services (SIS Group) to perform pest and termite control services in India is the Memphis-based company’s first non-franchise expansion outside North America.
Both parties bring several decades of experience to the relationship. Terminix provides its technical expertise and knowledge of the termite and pest control industry, while SIS provides its understanding of the Indian marketplace, along with its extensive infrastructure and customer base.
“The joint venture with SIS helps diversify our operations geographically, while opening the door to growth in an important global marketplace,” said Hank Mullany, chief executive officer of The ServiceMaster Company, parent company of Terminix. “This agreement combines the power of the Terminix brand and our technical expertise with the local sales, marketing and service capabilities of a well-established partner in India.”