Green Pest Solutions

Cover Story: Top 100 - Cover Story: Top 100

Owner Matt Jesson says his firm became a Top 100 company through the generosity of mentorship and prioritization of building a strong leadership team.

Matt Jesson (right) visits with Harvey Massey.

Green Pest Solutions President and Owner Matt Jesson credits much of his company’s success to early mentorship from industry greats. His company, headquartered in West Chester, Pa., ranks No. 30 on this year’s list and has evolved from its earliest iteration as an adolescent’s lawn-cutting business to a $30-million full-service pest control and lawn care company with six offices that service areas in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

“We have tried to model after the best,” Jesson said.

The Havertown, Pa., native started a lawn-cutting business, Jesson Landscaping, when he was just 12 years old and continued running the business full-time throughout his college career at West Chester University, where he also played football. After college, Jesson spent a few years working on eBay’s business development and marketing team, where he said he began to learn more about building and scaling a company. In 2004, he left eBay to transition Jesson Landscaping into Green Lawn Fertilizing.

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS. “I always have been an entrepreneur at heart,” Jesson said. From the beginning, his focus was on being able to provide “a superior customer experience,” he said. “Having a vision of long-term sustainable growth, I wanted to reach out to industry leaders.”

One of the most significant relationships he developed in the pest management industry was with Massey Services in Orlando. Early in his career, Jesson wrote a letter to CEO Harvey Massey introducing himself as a young entrepreneur interested in learning more about the industry. He asked if he and a handful of his team members could visit the Massey headquarters to see how things were done there, and Massey agreed to the proposition.

In August 2009, when Jesson’s company was still contained to the lawn and landscape industry, he and three Green Lawn executives — Alex Wolfington, Tom Knopsnyder and David Chu — made the trip to Orlando. Over lunch, Jesson recalled, Harvey Massey asked the team, “Why aren’t you guys doing pest control?”

“From that question, the idea of adding pest control was born,” Jesson said. For the next two years, the Green Lawn Fertilizing team worked on a plan to add pest control services to the business. They developed a separate brand, now known as Green Pest Solutions, and launched it in 2012.

In the last three years, the company has accelerated its growth, increasing its annual revenue from $15 million to $30 million. Jesson said he anticipates increasing that number by 26 percent this year.

Since that first visit, Green Pest Solutions has traveled to the Massey headquarters nine more times.

“Massey Services shared with us how they have built an industry-leading lawn and pest control business and every year has invited us back to learn,” Jesson said. “Mr. Massey, Tony Massey, Ian Robinson and the entire Massey team have gone above and beyond to share and teach us. They walk the walk when it comes to giving back to our industry. We would not be here today without their support.”

Members of Green Pest Solutions/Green Lawn Fertilizing's leadership development program learn how to grow into key management roles.

TEAM-BUILDING & GROWTH. The relationship has provided Jesson and his team members a firsthand look at best practices and become an important way that Green Pest Solutions invests in its team’s growth and education. That plays into the company’s people-first philosophy and continuous learning mindset.

“Our long-term vision allows us to not make profit the driving force behind what we are doing,” Jesson said.

Green Pest Solutions offers a leadership development program — launched and led by Josh Willey, senior vice president of operations — that helps frontline technicians grow into key management roles. The program had nine graduates last year.

“Josh has been instrumental in establishing our leadership development program that will allow us to grow future leaders from within,” said Jesson.

Jesson credits his senior leadership team as the other key force in accelerating the company’s growth.

Matt Jesson credits the Green Pest Solutions/Green Lawn Fertilizing senior leadership team, pictured here, as a major contributor to his company's success.

“Everything we do starts with a clear and consistent focus on recruiting and team-building,” he said. “We are focused on attracting, developing and retaining growth-minded team members whose personal values match the core values of our business. With the right team built, the rest falls into place.”

All of Green Pest Solutions’ managers are currently involved in management training through an external resource, Wildsparq, and five company leaders are enrolled in the Harvard Business School.

The company’s latest venture is the construction of a new headquarters, slated to open this fall. More than 50 employees make up the corporate headquarters team, and Jesson said they have outgrown their current space.

“Due to our long-term vision to grow beyond the $100 million mark, we needed a first-class corporate headquarters,” he said. The new facility will include a state-of-the-art training center for use in leadership development and training meetings, Jesson said, and will include upgraded technology to connect with teams in other branch locations. The headquarters will support more than 100 corporate team members and “give us the opportunity to grow for years to come,” Jesson said.

This year, the company is also focusing on migrating from physical quarterly invoices to monthly electronic billing. Jim Carnelli, director of pest control, who joined the team just over a year ago, said this unties revenue from service.

“Monthly billing checks all the boxes,” said Carnelli. “It benefits the customer by adding consistency to monthly budgets and benefits our team by removing administrative tasks related to traditional service-invoice transactions from the office. … In the monthly billing model, the payment is auto-drafted each month and is untied from the service. Each time we come out, it is value added with no request for payment. As a final positive, it ensures 100 percent completion with no potential for skipped quarterly work.” 

PAYING IT FORWARD. Now that Green Pest Solutions has made a name for itself in the pest control industry, Jesson said he’d like to pay it forward by mentoring other companies just as leaders like Massey did with his team.

“Come visit us,” Jesson said. “We would be happy to share and help you grow.”

The author is senior editor of PCT.