On The Hunt for Kindness

Features - PMP Profile

To have employees become more active in community service projects, Slug-A-Bug Pest Control created an interactive scavenger hunt that snowballed into a powerful charity drive and company unifier.

November 14, 2016

Front, left to right: Elliot Zace of Slug-A-Bug and Brandi Martin of Nana’s House. Back, left to right: James Jackson and Scott Timney, both Slug-A-Bug team leaders.

In April, Gordon Wallace received word he was assigned to a team for a company scavenger hunt. At first, the salesman and service consultant for Slug-A-Bug Pest Control didn’t think the event was anything special, other than a way to perhaps fuel his competitive edge against his fellow employees. When Wallace later discovered the hunt included a chance to donate to a local organization, he saw an opportunity bigger than himself.

Nana’s House, a non-profit organization that houses abandoned or abused children, was the recipient of Wallace’s and other employees’ scavenger hunt donations. “What better way to get involved in the scavenger hunt but also help an organization in need?” Wallace said.

Wallace said Slug-A-Bug’s 45 employees in Melbourne, Fla., thought “outside the box” for the voluntary event. “I went out and just bought every one of (the items),” he said. “Then that just snowballed because I felt like when people saw what I was doing, it motivated them to say ‘Hey, I can sacrifice some money for an organization to help out children who don’t have parents.’”

At the end of the month-long event, the company had four truckloads of goods to donate.

AN IDEA FOR UNITY. Elliot Zace, operations manager for Slug-A-Bug and creator of the scavenger hunt, did not expect the hunt to take off the way it did. But as each day in April passed, Zace’s office started to get smaller and smaller with donations piling up around him.

The company is involved in many charities and sponsored events, but Zace said those appearances are usually by those higher up in the company. He wanted to create something that included every employee.

Zace formed six teams and created a list of kind acts and tasks for employees in every department to extend their pest knowledge. Each item an individual completed on the list allotted a certain amount of points to add to their team’s total.

Some tasks were to find different insects, weeds or rodent-entry points at the accounts they service. Others were considered less pest control related, such as finding a penny with an employee’s birth year or pumping gas for a stranger.

RANDOM ACTS. A majority of the way employees earned points, however, was buying items the company could donate to Nana’s House. There were 10 items on the donations list that were highly sought after at the organization.

“The more you gave, the more points you accumulated for your team, because I didn’t want someone bringing in a pack of diapers and getting 25 points and that’s it,” Zace said. “The involvement was nothing like I ever expected.”

Wallace donated the most items and added 6,500 points to his team’s total. To put his score into perspective, Zace said one charity item was only valued at five, 10 or 15 points.

“Because God’s helped me turn my life around, I wanted to give back. I felt a real desire to do that,” Wallace said. “It’s my passion for helping others — that’s the business we’re in. We’re here to solve people’s problems, their pest control problems.”

Wallace said he emailed his team every day to encourage and update them on their progress. “We wanted to come out victorious, but come out victorious by sacrificing some of our own income to donate to Nana’s House,” Wallace said.

Nana’s House is a client and Slug-A-Bug performs pest management services gratis. Zace said Nana’s House didn’t know the company was collecting items until one of the house moms came to Slug-A-Bug and saw all of the donations in the conference room.

“I was so excited we received that kind of support,” Kim Frodge, executive director of Nana’s House, said. “We were so blessed to get so many things they raised for us. That is not a typical amount.”

AN ANNUAL TRADITION. Zace said because of its success, the company’s scavenger hunt may become an annual tradition.

“I’m looking forward to the next one,” Wallace said. “I don’t think anybody expected that (outcome). It was nice to see everybody to pull together to donate to somebody you don’t even know.”

Zace said his idea brought the stafff together and helped their community, something other pest control companies can copy and adapt to their area. “The way my mind works is kind of crazy at times…but that’s how it all came out — it was pretty incredible,” Zace said.

The author is an editorial intern for PCT magazine.