ERIE, PA. – Alex Retcofsky, owner and president of PDQ Pest Control in Erie, Pa., was selected as the winner of “Tales of the Crawlspace,” a recent PCT contest in which PMPs submitted their most interesting crawlspace encounters. Retcofsky has been in the industry since he was a young man working for his father’s one-man business, thus the abundance of interesting stories from the job. PDQ has always been a family business; in fact, the name PDQ is after Retcofsky’s family’s abbreviated way of urging people to get tasks done efficiently, or “pretty darn quick.” That later evolved to “professional, dependable, quality pest control.”
Retcofsky took the reins of PDQ in 2021, but he started working for PDQ full-time after he graduated high school in 2006. Even before he worked full-time, Retcofsky helped his father with small jobs.
“I was helping him going on termite jobs, pulling boards out of nails and loading debris into the truck when I was just a teenager,” Retcofsky said. “I remember being a little kid – elementary school aged – and going with my dad after baseball practice to go do some nighttime yellow jacket jobs. All I had to do was stand back and hold a flashlight.”
PDQ has established itself within Erie city limits as well as the surrounding counties and cities. Retcofsky claims that the rural areas are the company’s “bread and butter.” This was his father’s idea of how to grow the company from its conception. Also, PDQ takes great pride in its customer service, and has a very loyal customer base.
PDQ’s customers are their best form of advertising, according to Retcofsky.
“Word-of-mouth referrals from my other customers has been far and away the best way to advertise and the best way to grow our business,” Retcofsky said. “The old saying goes: you make a customer happy, they may tell one or two people. You make a customer mad, they'll tell everybody that'll listen. We do the best we can to make as many customers as we can happy.”
Retcofsky has seen his share of unique pest control situations. Retcofsky’s crawlspace tale exemplifies one of the many bizarre situations that are bound to happen in the exciting world of termite control work:
"Last spring, my crew and I took on a termite job in the city that had a large crawlspace. While quoting the job, I had opened the crawlspace for inspection. Peering around through the small hatchway with my flashlight, I could see the telltale mud tubes going up several of the foundation walls. Alas, the crawl was also full of debris, an all-too-common obstacle for PMPs when dealing with crawlspaces. There was everything in there: concrete rubble, roofing shingles, broken glass, red bricks and other construction debris. I had informed my customer that this debris would need to be removed in order to treat this space properly. The property owner was in no position to do this work herself, so we agreed upon a price wherein my crew would clean out and dispose of the debris prior to the treatment. So, the day of the treatment, we set up an assembly line of guys to remove the rubble and toss it into our utility trailer to be hauled to the dump. Our newest and youngest tech, Marvin, being the proverbial low man on the totem pole, was assigned the job of being the man deep inside the crawl. We outfitted him in a PPE space suit, set up our spotlights and sent him in on his belly. Space was limited in there, but things were going quite efficiently. Marvin was passing junk to my position just inside the crawl door and I was passing them to the guys outside to be hauled to the trailer. Marvin must have had quite the rhythm going, because he soon stopped paying attention to what he was grabbing. This is how Marvin came face to face with a mummified cat. From my viewpoint I actually saw the moment he realized what he was holding. Now, Marv is a strong, young, country-raised guy who does not scare easily, but this horrific carcass was in his hand and inches from his face when the reality hit him. I heard him scream through his respirator and watched as he tossed the cat away like a hot potato while simultaneously recoiling so quickly that he knocked his head on one of the floor joists. The rest of the crew subsequently had way too much fun at Marvin’s expense. They still remind him about “his” cat to this day.”