Merger Mania

Features - Cover Story

On the Move! Merger and acquisition activity continues at breakneck speed as Terminix, Anticimex and Rentokil all purchased Top 100 companies in May. What’s next?

June 20, 2018

The extreme makeover the pest control industry has been undergoing in recent years accelerated with news that four PCT Top 100 companies — Cooper Pest Solutions (#53), Advanced Pest Management (#91), Killingsworth Environmental (#37) and Hometown Pest Control (#79) — were all sold in May.

Two of the deals were made by Terminix, which followed up its headline-making April purchase of Copesan Services by acquiring Lawrenceville, N.J.-based Cooper Pest Solutions, a $12.2 million firm, and Delray Beach, Fla.-based Hometown Pest Control, a $7.6 million business.

The Cooper acquisition, which does not include sister company BedBug Central (see related story, page 18), gives Terminix “a bigger presence in the greater Philadelphia market — specifically northern and central New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania — a very competitive market,” said Matthew Stevenson, president of Terminix Residential.

As part of the deal, Cooper Pest Solutions Owner Phil Cooper leaves that role to join Terminix, but he continues to run the Cooper Pest Solutions business (which will continue to operate under the Cooper brand). “We are thrilled to be working with Nik Varty, Matt Stevenson and the Terminix team. Having spent a great deal of time with them, we are convinced their vision aligns with that of the Cooper team and value all that is special in the Cooper organization. We will continue to deliver our amazing experience to our customers as Cooper,” Phil Cooper said.

The most significant change is with Cooper Pest Solutions Technical Director Rick Cooper, who will take on a training and education role at Terminix. Considered one of the pest control industry’s foremost authorities on bed bugs, Rick Cooper received his Ph.D. from Rutgers University in 2015. “I’m going to be working at the national level, which is exciting for me,” Rick Cooper told PCT.

In addition to strengthening its training/technical team with Rick Cooper, Terminix’s management has been bolstered by the addition of Phil Cooper, the high-energy company leader known for his innovative approaches to customer service. As Rick Cooper noted, Terminix was “really interested in our culture and the way we do things.”

Cooper Pest Solutions also is a Copesan provider and will continue to service Copesan’s national accounts under the Copesan brand, service and account management business model. LR Tullius represented and acted as exclusive financial adviser to Cooper Pest Solutions on the transaction.

Earlier in the month, Terminix announced the Hometown acquisition. Hometown was founded in 1997 by former insurance salesman Sal Yanello and his wife Addie. The Yanellos relocated to South Florida from their native New York in November 1992, with plans of selling insurance. However, Florida was recovering from Hurricane Andrew (which made landfall in August 1992), so the Yanellos changed course. Sal became licensed and began working for a family member’s pest control firm. About four years later, in March 1997, the Yanellos launched Hometown Pest Control from their home.

Hometown Pest Control’s growth was accelerated by the South Florida construction boom of the late 1990s/early 2000s. “We concentrated on homeowner associations and property management firms in South Florida — treating properties in gated communities that could have 500 to 1,000 homes,” Yanello recalled.

Also key to Hometown’s growth was the addition of general manager Rafael Rico, who joined Hometown 18 years ago. Rico has helped automate the office and raise its online presence (e.g., HomeAdvisor, Google Reviews, etc.), allowing Sal Yanello to concentrate more on sales and big-picture planning. As the Yanellos were charting their future (Sal turns 67 in June) they began exploring M&A opportunities and determined that Terminix would be a good strategic fit. “They wanted us to stay as a stand-alone operation and keep everyone in place, and that was important to us,” said Yanello.

Terminix recently purchased Hometown Pest Control. Pictured (from left to right) are Jay Brown, Terminix; Sal and Addie Yanello, Hometown Pest Control; David Katz, Terminix; Rafael Rico, Hometown Pest Control; and Kemp Anderson, Kemp Anderson Consulting.

Hometown will continue to operate under the Hometown brand; Rico and Sal Yanello are staying on board for the immediate future, while Addie Yanello is retiring to focus on the Yanello’s real estate interests. Kemp Anderson, Kemp Anderson Consulting, represented Hometown in the transaction.

EUROPEAN firms make moves. Sweden-based Anticimex and UK-based Rentokil Steritech continued their North America buying sprees in May, beginning with Anticimex’s acquisition of Killingsworth Environmental of the Carolinas, based in Monroe, N.C.

With the acquisition of Killingsworth, Anticimex further strengthened its market position on the East Coast and created a platform for further long-term growth in the Carolinas.

Mike Rogers, a former Yellow Pages salesperson, purchased Killingsworth in May 2007. He and wife Debbie have steadily grown the company by capitalizing on its brand and branching into lawn care, carpet cleaning, mold remediation, water restoration, HVAC and more.

Mikael Vinje, regional president, Anticimex North America, said in a press release, “The Rogers family has built a terrific business based on relentless focus on customer experience and second-to-none quality. The strong entrepreneurial culture in Killingsworth is very much aligned with Anticimex’s DNA and we are very excited to partner with the talented team in Charlotte to embark on an accelerated growth journey in the Carolinas in the years to come.”

Rogers, in a press release, said, “Anticimex’s core values — trust, innovation and passion — are perfectly aligned with ours, and I’m confident that as part of the Anticimex team Killingsworth has the opportunity to accelerate its growth and achieve even greater success. We anticipate tremendous opportunities for our business, our employees, as well as our customers. My two sons, Andrew and Mathew, will stay on with the dedicated team at Anticimex.”

Terminix added the talents of Phil and Rick Cooper with its acquisition of Cooper Pest Solutions. Pictured (from left to right) are Laura and Phil Cooper; Louise and Rick Cooper.

Also in May, Rentokil Steritech finalized a deal to acquire Elkton, Md.-based Advanced Pest Management (APM). The acquisition further expands Rentokil Steritech’s density in the northeastern U.S. market.

Established in 1964 by the Kreer family, APM was sold in 2003 to Jeremy Kreer. He has led APM as president the last 15 years. The firm services residences and businesses from southern New Jersey through Delaware to Baltimore, Md.

“The addition of APM’s local market leadership to our growing family of experts further enhances our ability to serve both residential and commercial customers in the Northeast,” John Myers, president and CEO of Rentokil Steritech, said in a press release. “Jeremy and his team share our high-level commitment to customer experience and world-class pest control services and we are excited to have them onboard.”

Jeremy Kreer, in a press release, said APM “believes that joining the Rentokil Steritech family of companies will allow us to continue that tradition. We look forward to providing our customers with additional service offerings that help them further protect their homes and businesses and contributing our expertise to continue growing the Rentokil Steritech range of services.”

Paul Giannamore of The Potomac Company acted as the exclusive financial adviser to both Killingsworth and APM.

The author is managing editor/Internet editor of PCT magazine.