PCOs Pivot During These Uncertain Times

Departments - View Point

July 9, 2020

In speaking with pest control operators (PCOs) throughout the country navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic, a buzzword we keep hearing is “pivot.” PCOs are taking inventory of what they do best and figuring out how they can most effectively use their assets to tweak their business model for surviving in the short-term and flourishing in the long-term.

One company that has pivoted is Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Liberty Pest Control. Like many other pest control companies, Liberty offers a sanitization program, and the popularity of this service is helping the firm sustain itself during these difficult times. What’s different about Liberty is that the company already had its sanitization service in place for two years. The program was envisioned by co-owners Rich Cappa and Joe Temperino, and brought to reality by managing partner Alex Dallas, who has a science and technology background. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, Liberty already had people, products and protocols ready to go.

“In this business and in this market (New York City) you have to be able to pivot,” said Cappa. “We are always investigating new opportunities and new services. You can’t afford to be stagnant.”

We’ve also heard from companies that have pivoted by turning more of their attention to different vertical market segments. For example, J.P. McHale Pest Management, an Anticimex company based in Buchanan, N.Y., offers both residential and commercial pest control services. The residential segment has “taken off” said Jim McHale, president of J.P. McHale Pest Management, thanks in large part to its non-core services.

“The financial analysts have their pandemic stock favorites like Papa John’s pizza and Zoom. Well, I have my pandemic favorites and it’s tick control, it’s mosquito control, it’s residential SMART boxes for rodents and it’s wasps,” he said.

With the stay-at-home orders, “people are noticing everything” including “an incredible amount of pest activity,” McHale said. As a result of this uptick in residential business, J.P. McHale has been able to “fill a lot of gaps” left from lost commercial business.

What I find interesting about both Liberty and J.P. McHale Pest Management is that they both invested in services (sanitization and mosquito/tick control) that although not initially huge revenue generators, always had the potential for growth. Now they are seeing the fruits of these investments.


PCT has resources you can use when exploring new growth opportunities, including our recently launched Business Boosters webinar series. The free webinars include: (1) a presentation from a featured technical/business speaker; (2) a Q&A with a PMP who provides hands-on information; (3) a word from our sponsor. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, PCOs are looking at new revenue streams — or trying to improve existing ones; the goal of the Business Boosters webinar series is to bring together experts in the aforementioned disciplines to share their best practices. Our first webinar, “Inspection and Control Tips for Effective Mosquito Control Virtual Conference,” was held in June and sponsored by BASF. Our headline speaker was Stoy Hedges, and attendees also heard from Gerry Marsh, president of Patton Termite & Pest, and BASF’s Dr. Jason Meyers and Luke Barnett. We’ll have announcements about upcoming Business Boosters webinars in our weekly enewsletter and on our website, www.pctonline.com.

The author is senior digital editor and managing editor of PCT.