Gregory Pest Solutions Q&A

Features - Focus on M&A

Editor’s note: In October, ServiceMaster announced the acquisition of Gregory Pest Solutions, a $26.5 million firm based in Greenville, S.C., that ranked #30 on the most recent PCT Top 100 List. Phil and Sara Gregory launched the business in 1972 while in their 20s, building the company into one of the largest regional pest control firms in the Southeast. Today, it employs more than 250 people in 11 states. PCT recently caught up with Phil Gregory to learn more about one of the most high-profile acquisitions of 2019.

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January 13, 2020

 

 
Q: What was the number one reason you and Sara decided to sell Gregory Pest Solutions at this time?

A: It was mostly a matter of good timing. ServiceMaster was in the right place at the right time and everything just seemed to come together for Sara and me. Our president, Ben Walker, had developed a productive relationship with ServiceMaster during the Copesan sale. This gave us all great confidence that ServiceMaster would value the Gregory workforce and maintain the Gregory culture we have built over the last 47 years. Recognizing the value of the Gregory brand, ServiceMaster intends to continue operating its new business as Gregory Pest Solutions, as part of a multi-brand strategy and commitment to growth in the region.

 

Q: I’m sure your company had many high-quality suitors. Why did you decide to sell to ServiceMaster and how long was the deal in the works?

A: Actually, the deal was only in the works for a short few months because we already knew the ServiceMaster leadership and their approach to business very well. As mentioned, Ben’s experience with ServiceMaster in connection with the Copesan acquisition and several other projects was very positive. We believed that ServiceMaster would take care of our employees, based on how we observed their approach to business in connection with the Copesan and Assured Environments deals, and many others.

 

Q: How did your staff respond to the announcement that Gregory Pest Solutions had been sold to ServiceMaster?

A: As you can imagine, there was plenty of joy, but it came with mixed emotions. Also, for many long-term employees, it was an end of an era so there was the fear of the unknown. Employees responded well, however, when we pointed out the new opportunities that would come from working with a Fortune 1000 global company. Sara, Ben and I are extremely confident that the future is very bright for Gregory and the entire team.

 

Q: How long do you anticipate the integration process will take?

A: The initial basic integration probably will take approximately six months. Due to the structure of the deal, however, it will take longer to fully integrate our 267 employees and the $26.5 million company into ServiceMaster’s business. In addition, ServiceMaster is retaining our management team and the Gregory brand, a testament to the strength of both. Nothing like this has been done before, which makes it a new adventure for everyone. The complete integration could take up to 18 months.

 

Q: What role will you play with Gregory Pest Solutions/ServiceMaster moving forward?

A: Sara and I are shareholders of the new Gregory Company, so we are fully committed to the future success of the company and the well-being of the wonderful team we have built over the years. I also will be serving as Board Chairman of the new Gregory Company. Sara and I will be attending board meetings, quarterly managers meetings and other annual functions.

 

Q: What do you have planned for your post-industry career?

A: I plan to stay active in the industry. In addition to my duties with the new company, I will be attending industry events such as the NPMA PestWorld convention and Legislative Day. Sara and I, of course, will stay in close communication with our Gregory family as all of our employees have always meant so much to us. Gregory would not be the success it is today without our dedicated team members.

 

Q: What will you miss most about the pest control industry and why?

A: Without question, Sara and I will deeply miss the day-to-day interaction and communication with all of our employees. We have dedicated our lives to this business and our employees, and it will be a bit heart wrenching not to enjoy those relationships as much. Also, we have had some great mentors over the years, including Richard Yashek, Bob Russell, Bob and Judy Dold, and many others who were instrumental to our careers in the early years and beyond. We will miss them. And we will miss the very strong relationships with our vendors who were not only our business partners, but also our friends.

 

Q: Is there anything we haven’t asked that you would like to add?

A: I just want to thank PCT magazine for the opportunity to express our appreciation to ServiceMaster for its professional approach to this acquisition and how it has been so welcoming to the Gregory team members. I also want to thank PCT for allowing me to share my thoughts on what a privilege it has been to work with some of the most exceptional professionals in this industry.