Integrating a package of closed crawl space solutions into service offerings has provided business growth opportunities for Pest Management Systems Inc. (PMi) of Greensboro, N.C. The opportunities extend into both builder and homeowner accounts. The new CrawlSpace Care services are increasing profits, reducing liabilities for all parties, and delivering real results for customers with regard to moisture and mold management and home energy efficiency for homes constructed on closed crawl space foundations. PMi’s integrated mix of services is resulting in positive relationships with current customers and new customers contact the firm to provide these multiple benefit services. Additionally, pest control operators are asking PMi for guidance in establishing CrawlSpace Care services as an add-on business unit in their own companies. The response has been so great that CrawlSpace Care Technologies was created to help accommodate requests for education, training, marketing and installation materials.
We have previously discussed closed crawl spaces in the pages of PCT magazine. (June 2003, "Crawl Space Mold: Liability or Business Opportunity?" and October 2004, "Double Duty: Closed crawl spaces do double duty as a moisture solution and as an energy saver, according to research out of North Carolina." These articles are available for subscribers at www.pctonline.com.) The research was authored by Bruce Davis and others at Advanced Energy (Davis recently has moved to a position with CrawlSpace Care Technologies.)
To summarize those two articles, closed crawl space construction can be applied to homes that are under construction or to existing homes. It has been demonstrated that properly closed crawl spaces provide numerous benefits, particularly that the foundation system provides much better moisture and mold management and improved home energy efficiency as mentioned previously. To learn more about what Advanced Energy means by a properly closed crawl space, visit www.crawlspaces.org and download the "Guide for the Southeast" which covers design selection, installation issues and measured performance.
NEW BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY. PMi and Advanced Energy staff have collaborated for several years to push the evolution of the science, art, practical protocols and business processes that will allow this technology to become a profitable, standard construction practice. The two companies first met when Advanced Energy staff provided a brief update for a 2002 meeting of the North Carolina Structural Pest Control Board on the moisture control provided by closed crawl space foundations. It was obvious to Advanced Energy staff that strong support from the industry would be beneficial to the acceptance, adoption and practical application of this construction practice.
Once exposed to the performance of closed crawl space foundations and the multiple implications to the pest control industry, Pest Management Systems undertook an aggressive exploration of this potential opportunity. PMi has taken a leadership role via:
1. Understanding the business opportunity implications of the science.
2. Developing practical installation protocols and pricing for both new and existing homes.
3. Establishing the business processes to provide the integrated framework necessary for financial success and growth in the marketplace.
PMi has maintained its collaborative relationship with the Advanced Energy staff over the last five years. PMI has facilitated communication on this topic between multiple stakeholders, including the North Carolina Structural Pest Control Board, the North Carolina Pest Control Association, the National Pest Management Association and the North Carolina Building Code Council.
With support and guidance from the pest control industry, from champions on the North Carolina Building Code Council, and with practical research data, Advanced Energy staff was able to write and have adopted for North Carolina a new building code section specifically for closed crawl space foundations. (Editor’s note: There are links on www.crawlspaces.org to the code language for this new section R 409.) The collaboration continues because PMi has signed on as private industry partner with Advanced Energy in the current Marketplace Performance Crawl Space initiative (see related story below). PMi serves as a partner on the Business Supply Chain Committee and as the closed crawl space installation training contractor for the three national building sites.
DEVELOPING THE BUSINESS. Positioning in one’s local market is everything. Other trades in the shelter industry are assessing the potential to move into this market. In our opinion, pest control operators are in a prime position to capture this market opportunity and its financial and other benefits as has Pest Management Systems.
The science behind closed crawl spaces is easy to understand and supports the process in which pest management professionals can help improve negative conditions within their customers’ environment and help in conserving energy resources while saving clients money. PMi has worked hard to perfect the system of closed crawl space service for both new construction as well as existing structures. PCOs are charged with the responsibility to help improve the quality of life of their customers with all of the services they offer. PMi started to look at closed crawl spaces in 2002 and realized the moisture-related problems that the company had been seeing for years within crawl spaces was related to venting crawl spaces with moisture-laden outdoor air, which condenses on surfaces within the crawl space.
PMi saw the benefits of the technology and business growth but found that a mature business supply chain did not exist. The company was faced with the necessity of finding, pulling together, creating and unifying into one coherent package all the business processes that are always required for a practical success. As company officials were developing those aspects of the business package, they identified the need to establish the most productive integration of CrawlSpace Care into their current family of services. The integrated CrawlSpace Care package includes Mold-Ram (Sostram Corporation, www.mold-ram.com) to prevent mold growth, termite pretreatment and a properly closed crawl space system.
Basic training about the science that explains all the performance benefits of closed crawl spaces and an overview of the installation materials is necessary. However, development of an integrated business package is even more important for:
A. Adopting the process into your pest management company services
B. Development of business processes
C. Development of business documents,
D. Marketing materials to promote the technology
PMi has established unified material and equipment sources, services, consulting, marketing materials and templates for contracts and forms.
The financial health of Pest Management Systems is not just from providing CrawlSpace Care services but from its stimulation of symbiotic business growth across the whole company. We have succeeded in doing better with the CrawlSpace Care portion of our company than with our standard termite pretreats. In fact, the growth of CrawlSpace Care has helped maintain the financial contribution of our pretreat business.
Billy Tesh is president of Pest Management Systems Inc. Bruce Davis is vice president of CrawlSpace Care Technologies, both in Greensboro, N.C. Tesh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and Davis can be reached at email@example.com.