Recognizing a New Generation of Leaders

Departments - View Point

September 4, 2019

An article titled “Top 7 Traits of Star Employees” caught my eye since at the time I saw it, our staff was working on this month’s Rising Stars cover story. I thought these “employee” traits applied to organizations as well, and I was struck by the similarities in the profiles we’d written. We found that these qualities were evident at many (if not all) of the firms; as such, what follows are examples of how seven Rising Star companies are exemplifying Inc.’s seven traits. (Read the Inc. article at

1. Happiness.

Inc. says, “No one wants to work with an unhappy person. Happiness also reflects your ability to tackle challenges without becoming discouraged.”

Shon Vodila, president of Accel Pest & Termite Control, Virginia Beach, Va., says the firm gives its employees the latitude to do what they need to do. “We empower our team to do whatever it takes to satisfy our customers,” Vodila said. In my work life, empowerment certainly equals happiness.

2. Creativity.

Inc. says, “Innovation goes a long way in maximizing an employee’s potential. Creative employees may also come up with entirely new ideas for guiding the company toward success.”

Cascade Pest Control, Bothell, Wash., is working to create a technology that will allow supervisors to observe what technicians are experiencing in the field directly to a screen, which will bring supervision and coaching to technicians. A creative training approach!

3. Hustle.
Inc. says, “As the old adage goes, time is money. CEOs want the job done, and they want it done yesterday. But it’s not just about speed; it’s about your drive to be efficient.”

Receiving training in both sales and service, technicians at East Cooper Termite & Pest Solutions, Mt. Pleasant, S.C., drive sales by handing out flyers and offering same-day and next-day services. Same-day service? Sounds like hustle to me.

4. Honesty.
Inc. says, “Nothing can turn off a CEO faster than dishonesty. As an employee, you’ll be entrusted with inside information and the company’s best interests.”

Employees at Safer Home Services, Clearwater, Fla., put themselves in their customers’ shoes and offer a satisfaction guarantee or their money back. The firm was created “from the customer perspective backwards,” said President/CEO Jim Swayne. Employees who look at situations from the customer’s perspective must know that honesty is of utmost importance.

5. Flexibility.

Inc. says, “If I hire you as a full-time employee, I want you to do what it takes to help my company — end of story. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should be expected to work insane hours or risk your own well-being, but you should be flexible in your position.”

Sasa Milenkovic, owner and CEO at Pest Czar, Towson, Md., said the firm’s employees are indeed flexible — there is no sales team and everyone is trained to provide service and articulate the value of their services — which in turn has led to organic and sustainable growth.

6. Passion.
Inc. says, “CEOs want to know their employees actually enjoy their jobs and are constantly striving to improve professionally. The CEO needs employees who care.”

Las Vegas-based Delcon Pest Control Owner/President Misty Goodroad is a great example of passion. Grady Jones, vice president of operations, wrote of Goodroad, “Growing up in the industry she developed a love for the people in pest control and for the services we provide. She works tirelessly connecting other companies with one another to provide not only help but also solidarity in our industry.”

7. Confidence.
Inc. says, “Do you shy away from challenges, or do you take them on knowing you at least have a decent shot at overcoming them? The CEO also wants to see confidence in your ability to perform your essential job duties.”

Executives often have confidence in those they’ve worked with previously. Quality Pest Services President Lee Whitmore filled his executive team with dependable professionals, all of whom worked with him at another fumigation company. “My number one priority was to bring this leadership team back together with a shared vision of not only replicating, but improving upon our prior reputation and success,” Whitmore said.

The author is editor of PCT magazine.