No More Bugs, a Mosquito Authority and Pest Authority franchise headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., with nine offices in eight states, was built on a customer- and employee-centric mission. President Marguerite Horan is a prime example of that mission in action.
Horan started as No More Bugs’ first office employee 10 years ago. “I had taken about a 10-year break from my career when I had a family, and I wanted to get back to work,” she said.
At the time, the business was still very seasonal and mostly focused on mosquito
control, so she worked in the office from March to October for the first several years.
“We from the get-go worked to provide growth opportunities for our employees, and that included me,” said Horan, who has been president of No More Bugs for the past four years. “I’ve been able to grow in my role from where I started at the very beginning to my role now.”
The owners of No More Bugs — Brian White, Jason Roth, Haze Lancaster and Mitch Lancaster — first founded ATM USA, a company that owns and services ATM machines across the country. The four men were customers of Mosquito Authority, which is headquartered in Hickory, N.C.
“Back that many years ago, it was a very new concept to have backyard mosquito control,” said Horan. “They were blown away by the effectiveness.”
One of the owners was moving from Raleigh to Southern Pines, N.C., and had to cancel his Mosquito Authority service. When he did so, Horan said, he told the owner, “I hate to cancel. I love it so much.” The Mosquito Authority owner suggested he look into buying a franchise. He realized it would be a good fit, Horan said, “with the [ATM] business that they owned being service-focused.”
No More Bugs started with two Mosquito Authority franchise locations: one in Raleigh, and one in the Sandhills region of North Carolina.
“Our growth really just started immediately from that first season, and we grew organically,” Horan said. “But we also over those first few years started acquiring additional franchise territory in other locations and other states.”
Horan’s background before joining the team was in advertising media/sales and account management. She has always been driven by what she calls “an entrepreneurial spirit.” During the startup phase of the internet, Horan moved to California and began her career working for one of the first search engine companies.
“I would have never gambled that my career would become one in the pest control industry,” she said.
She says her background has helped with growing the company, which increased its revenue by 20 percent in 2020 for a total of $6.2 million and anticipates an additional 15 percent growth this year. “I think for what started as a very small business and now is a lot bigger, it gives you the option to wear many hats,” Horan said. “And one of the most critical hats along the way has been marketing and promotion.”
HOW THEY’VE GROWN. No More Bugs had about five employees when it started. Now, its annual employee base is about 20, with an additional 80 seasonal technicians.
“Our industry seems to have been positively impacted by customers staying at home during COVID,” Horan said. “They wanted to enjoy their yards.”
The company also restructured last year. “We had previously managed with a centralized model from Raleigh, and in 2020, we really completely restructured so that we put managers in place locally in every one of our markets,” Horan said. “It was really hard in that restructuring to put the right people in the right seats. I know it’s really cliche, but we really value our employees’ professional and personal development, and we promoted internally for most of the management hires and gave a lot more ownership to those employees who had been with us. And they really responded.”
As the Raleigh-based No More Bugs expanded, it started to offer general pest control services under its Pest Authority brand, which grew 48 percent last year. The brand has been growing steadily each year since it launched five years ago, said Horan.
“We intentionally have grown it very deliberately and cautiously and slowly, because we want to do it right,” she said. “We’ve primarily promoted it to our mosquito customers versus going out to solicit direct pest control business outside of our mosquito family of customers. I think our key challenge moving forward to keep this pace going is we need to make that shift to attract pest control customers outside of our mosquito family base.”
Horan thinks the company’s program, sold with no contract and a full guarantee, has contributed to its success. “Our clients love it, and it just makes it very easy to try it out,” she said. “We know they’re going to be so satisfied that they will not stop. And I think beyond that, our commitment above and beyond to customer service has made all the difference.”
She said attention to customer service is No More Bugs’ core value.
The company plans to launch two more Pest Authority locations this year in Brick, New Jersey and Virginia Beach, Va.
Horan’s advice to companies looking to expand is to “find the right people and invest time in developing your talent,” she said. “We, of course, have to provide a quality, excellent service,” she said. “But we know there are other companies that provide quality, excellent service. We really believe it’s our people that make all the difference.”