Former NFL wide receiver Mitch Mathews’ lone NFL touchdown came as a Miami Dolphin in a preseason game in 2017. Earlier that year, he partnered with pest control industry vet Ben Morgan to start Anthem Pest Control.
So, it’s only fitting that his one trip to the endzone culminated in a touchdown celebration where he mimicked knocking on someone’s door and signing them up for pest control services.
“Being that he came from BYU and was Mormon, a lot of people thought he was doing the Mormon door-knocking thing,” Morgan said. “But the reality was [it was for pest control]. He waves other players over and they [pretend to] spray around his feet.”
The team that Morgan and Mathews — who met through mutual acquaintances — have formed at Anthem, No. 85 on this year’s Top 100 list, seems to have all the makings of a dynasty. In less than four years, they’ve opened three offices in Atlanta, Dallas and Houston, with a fourth location set to open this month in Greenville, S.C.
The company, which offers only residential general pest control, grew revenue by more than 85 percent in 2020. Morgan, who worked his way up through the industry at companies such as Alterra and Aptive Environmental, handles operations and manages the company’s expansion as CEO, while Utah-based Mathews handles sales and recruiting as president.
Morgan saw what it was like building a new company while at Alterra and Aptive, which helped him when starting his own, and he attributes a lot of Anthem’s fast growth to what he saw and learned there.
“I had already been through that growth under Alterra,” he said. “It’s just proper expectations, proper knowledge of the day-to-day side. What drives me is metrics. I love understanding how metrics are impacted by different decisions I make.”
That doesn’t mean Morgan is afraid to mix up the playbook that’s worked so well. Last year, Anthem launched a VIP program. The $99-per-month (billed annually) plan offers customers monthly general pest control visits, including mosquito service. It’s great for Anthem, because sales reps just need to make one sale to cover 12 months. But living up to the name, customers are treated like queen bees.
“We put our experienced technicians on those routes, and so people are getting the top-line value,” Morgan said. “And it’s the same tech every time. So people get to know their technician, the technician gets to know those homes.”
Anthem also instituted a Tech of the Month award for each office to show appreciation for the folks out in the field.
“Recognizing the guys on the sales side is easy because they’re revenue-driving,” Morgan said. “Guys want to have a piece and deserve recognition when they do a good job.”
Anthem also rewards technicians who get reviewed well on Google and elsewhere, offering $5 or $10 tips for four- or five-star reviews.
“It inspires the guys to take a little bit more pride in their work and deliver high quality every time,” Morgan said.
Building on that base of positive reviews, Anthem is preparing to dig into more social media and search engine optimization (SEO) to reach potential customers, which, up until now, has been done mostly through door-to-door sales.
“We’re not capitalizing on the massive amount of reviews that we get,” said Morgan, who noted that there are thousands of companies in Georgia (where Anthem is based) and the Southeast. “[We want to use] SEO and geotargeting to highlight why we’ve had so much success in spite of all the competition.”
His hope is that it all leads the company to another championship-level year.
“One of the sayings we have with our guys is, ‘We treat pest control like a sport,’ ” Morgan said. “Business is the ultimate sport. It’s the ultimate competition.”