Rising Stars

Features - Cover Story

These 25 companies are on the move. Whether it’s their fresh take on pest management marketing, rapid growth initiatives or innovative service programs, they’re all at the top of their game.

September 4, 2019

Editor’s note: These profiles were written and edited by contributing writers Paige Bennett and Kierra Sondereker, PCT Editor Jodi Dorsch and PCT Managing Editor Brad Harbison.

The Three-Step Approach

855bugs.com, Waco, Texas

Employees of 855bugs.com have perfected their approach to pest control to a three-step business model: connect, inspect, protect. Founder and President Bob Howard believes 855bugs.com’s consistent growth “comes from empowering its employees to embrace this three-step approach to every customer, vendor and co-worker.” Started as a one-man operation in 2006, 855bugs.com now employs 25 people and plans to grow even larger by 2020. The company extends its mission to their community as well, volunteering in their area schools and educating first-time homeowners on the importance of pest and termite maintenance. Perhaps that’s why they have been voted number one by Locals Love Us eight years in a row and named number one by Best of Waco 10 years in a row. — Kierra Sondereker

Left to right: Founder Jack Roberts, Executive Office Manager Yvonne Roberts and President Bruce Roberts.

Putting People First

A-1 Pest Control, Lenoir, N.C.

At A-1 Pest Control, the focus is on people. The company holds the belief that “this business is all about people, and when you have some of the best people in the business, the sky is the limit,” said Brandon Lea, vice president of operations. In the last three years, A-1 Pest Control has opened two new branches. With a goal of launching three new branches in the next four years, the firm plans to continue expanding to new service areas. “We believe we are big enough to do anything that is needed, and we are small enough that we can tailor our system to meet customers’ exact needs,” Lea said. — Paige Bennett

Taking Care of Employees

Accel Pest & Termite Control, Virginia Beach, Va.

Running a company that promotes a healthy work-life balance was a goal for Shon Vodila, president of Accel Pest & Termite Control, when he and Vice President John Reid launched the firm in 2010. Rooted in the idea that when a company takes care of its employees, the employees take care of the customers, Accel prides itself on having a staff that is “excited to be a part of the company and the company culture,” Vodila said. Accel has not had a technician leave in the last two years. Last year, the firm created six new technician positions. Additionally, 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. — Paige Bennett

Three of four generations at Admiral Pest Control. Left to right: Ashley Doran, Brian Jones, Betty Jones, Earl Jones, Jeff Jones and Trevor Jones.

A Family Focus

Admiral Pest Control, Bellflower, Calif.

In a world where corporations rule, Admiral Pest Control defies the odds by remaining successfully family-owned and -operated. A fourth-generation pest control company, Admiral Pest Control has always put family at its core. Since the company opened in 1947, Admiral Pest strives to treat their “employees like family and foster a positive team atmosphere which translates to them treating customers the same way,” said Vice President and General Manager Trevor Jones. And the family treatment works. Cultivating these long-term customers has led to numerous word-of-mouth referrals, a main contributor to Admiral Pest’s steady residential and commercial growth for more than 70 years. — Kierra Sondereker

Embracing Innovation

Cascade Pest Control, Bothell, Wash.

Innovation plays an important role at Cascade Pest Control. The firm has developed unique practices in rat and mouse control that involve the areas of inspection, initial service and preventive maintenance. Cascade is in the experimental stages of creating a technology that will allow supervisors to observe what technicians are experiencing in the field directly from a screen, which will “bring supervision and coaching to field technicians,” said Public Relations Manager Aleah Malizia. The firm also has received several environmental awards, including the EPA Region 10 Evergreen Award and the Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention and Sustainable Practices. — Paige Bennett

Everyone’s An Expert

Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management, Aurora, Ill.

When it was founded in 1992, Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management forged ahead in the pest control industry with its commitment to keeping services environmentally friendly. Since then, the company remains committed to those values while adding a few more. To provide high-quality service to the Chicagoland area, JD Oeters, the company’s branch manager in Rolling Meadows, Ill., said that rather than employ salespeople, they rely on training office staff and technicians alike in knowledge of all aspects of pest control. “All technicians are encouraged to become state certified in Illinois upon eligibility,” Oeters said, “and we continue to incorporate an IPM philosophy in all our treatments.” —

Kierra Sondereker

88 Years and Going STrong

ChemTec Pest Control, Saddlebrook, N.J.

In business for more than 85 years, ChemTec Pest Control serves residential, commercial and institutional clients throughout New Jersey and in Rockland, N.Y. ChemTec was founded in 1931 by Hyman Jacobson, and in 2013 Mary Vongas became the company’s third president. In 2006, Vongas was the inaugural recipient of the National Pest Management Association’s Professional Women in Pest Management Award. In addition to developing a reputation for outstanding service, ChemTec has been active in the communities it serves. Outreach efforts include the company’s participation in Mental Health Awareness Month; ChemTec used blogs, social media posts, bill inserts and technician leave-behinds to communicate with customers about mental health awareness. ChemTec has earned several Angie’s List Super Service Awards, honors that Vongas attributes to her team. “We have a great crew here at ChemTec,” she said. “Our folks are very passionate about solving pest problems and making sure our customers have the confidence that they can relax, that we will make their homes safe again.” — Brad Harbison

New Leader, Fresh Ideas

City Wide Exterminating, Locust, N.C.

City Wide Exterminating specializes in pest, termite and wildlife control — and its customers. The firm strives to maintain positive customer relationships by sending hand-written thank you cards to new customers and gifts to long-term clients. City Wide was founded in 2000 by Robert Hunnicutt and in 2010 Ashley Morrison joined her father’s business after working outside the industry. She’s completed the Executive Leadership Program through the National Pest Management Association and serves on its board of directors. In 2019 the company opened two new locations in the greater Charlotte, N.C., area. Both satellite locations are in areas where one route already was established. — Jodi Dorsch

The entire City Wide team, including Ashley Morrison, president (center); Chris Hunnicutt, wildlife service manager (far left); and Dylan Morrison, pest and termite service manager (third from right).

Valuing Technological Innovation

Delcon Pest Control, Las Vegas

At Delcon Pest Control, finding ways to improve services is always the goal. The firm “prides itself on training, education and innovation,” said Grady Jones, vice president of operations. Delcon Pest holds weekly training for its technicians and office staff to keep them up to date on the latest trends and technologies in the industry. The company also has an entomologist on staff who provides employees with advanced training opportunities. Over the next several years, the firm is aiming to increase revenue, create a bird division and open branches in Utah and Arizona. Misty Goodroad, the firm’s owner and president, has served the Nevada Pest Management Association as its president for the last two years and the last four years as an officer. Goodroad’s family has been in the pest management industry in Arizona and Nevada for almost 50 years. — Paige Bennett

Driving Sales and Marketing Services

East Cooper Termite & Pest Solutions, Mt. Pleasant, S.C.

At East Cooper Termite & Pest Solutions, employees have the flexibility to sell and market their service areas as they choose, said Manager Nick Caudell. Receiving training in both sales and service, East Cooper technicians drive sales by handing out flyers and offering same-day and next-day services. These practices have helped the firm reach a customer count of 2,000 in less than eight years, as well as generate high ratings on Google, Yelp and other online review sites, Caudell said. In addition, East Cooper Termite & Pest Solutions has received a Best of Mount Pleasant Award for pest control services. — Paige Bennett

All About the Customer

Harbor Pest Control, San Diego, Calif.

It’s always been more about the people than the numbers at Harbor Pest Control. “We are slow and steady wins the race,” said Owner Greg Augustine. A longtime provider of commodity and chamber fumigations in San Diego, Harbor maintains a strong presence in this segment, and the firm has grown its residential services. Since Augustine purchased Harbor 17 years ago, the company has gone from 1½ GPC technician positions and about $200,000 in annual revenue to eight GPC technicians and $1 million in yearly revenue (in this segment). Word-of-mouth referrals also have helped Harbor grow. “Customers often really like their technician and recommend them by name,” said Kesha Edvalson, executive assistant to Augustine. — Kierra Sondereker

Committing to Quality Service

Fox Pest Control, Oxford, Conn.

A commitment to providing high-quality service has allowed Fox Pest Control to find success. The company values strong leadership and customer satisfaction above all else. “We very much want to develop strong enough leadership that not only can we ensure sound operations within Fox, but we can give back to an industry that has welcomed us so warmly,” said Sterling Fife, member at Fox Pest Control. “We owe a huge thanks to many great people in our industry. Thank you for helping us find our way through our journey.” The firm says it plans to maintain its high-quality standards as it continues to grow in revenue over the next two to four years. — Paige Bennett

Fox Pest Control has about 40 employees.
John Boudreaux, owner/president and Regan Boudreaux, CFO

Unique Service Options

Hargrove Pest Solutions, Martinez, Ga.

Hargrove Pest Solutions uses a unique service strategy to set itself apart from its competitors, the company said. The firm and its sister company, Hargrove Inspection Services, operate in conjunction with one another to allow clients to receive a home inspection and a quote for pest or termite services simultaneously. About 40 percent of Hargrove Pest Solutions’ business comes as a result of interactions with the home inspection company, said CFO Regan Boudreaux. With an average growth rate of 26 percent for the past three years, Hargrove is becoming a significant player in the competitive Georgia market. — Paige Bennett

The Natural State Pest Control team building camaraderie by throwing axes.

Positive Reviews and A Personal Touch

Natural State Pest Control, Lowell, Ark.

Amassing positive online reviews has been an important part of the success strategy of Natural State Pest Control. The firm has received more than 350 five-star reviews on Google over a two-year period, which Owner and President Trent Ragar attributes to Natural State’s high-quality customer service. “We are redefining what customers experience when hiring a pest service in Arkansas,” Ragar said. Natural State, which offers same day service (it’s been a huge driver for new sales), also adds a personal touch to the customer experience. Every client receives a handwritten thank you note to show that Natural State appreciates their business. — Paige Bennett

Dedication, Experience and Guarantees

Pest & Termite Consultants, Raleigh, N.C.

With more than 25 years of industry experience, Pest & Termite Consultants has been serving its community since 1993. The firm, which is known locally as “the guys in the blue trucks,” emphasizes dedication and quality service, offering a guarantee that if pests return to a customer’s property in between visits, Pest & Termite Consultants will re-treat it, free of charge. The company also has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. President David Vitale said Pest & Termite Consultants is now licensed in South Carolina and Virginia and is expanding its operations. —

Paige Bennett

Organic and Sustainable Growth

Pest Czar, Towson, Md.

At Pest Czar, a focus on environmentally friendly Integrated Pest Management takes precedence. The company, which was founded in 2013, has managed to grow 50 to 100 percent each year since, said Owner and CEO Sasa Milenkovic. Pest Czar also has maintained an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and is NPMA GreenPro and QualityPro Certified. The company’s licensed and certified technicians earn their GreenPro and QualityPro certifications within 90 days of employment. Going forward, the goal is for the company to “continue organic and sustainable growth,” Milenkovic said. — Paige Bennett

Austin Elrod, president

Dedicated Customer Service

Pest Force, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

Pest Force places high value on the customer experience. The firm uses “old-style guarantees with new-age technology in order to provide an unmatched customer service,” said Candra Justice, director of operations. Pest Force keeps motivation and drive high among its staff by consistently providing team-building opportunities and sales incentives. Team members operate as individuals, working their routes as if they are their own companies, Justice said. The firm also offers opportunities for personal growth, giving employees the ability to benefit from upselling. “We are striving to reach the PCT Top 100,” Justice said. — Paige Bennett

Quality Pest Services offers fumigation and volumetric heat services to control a variety of pests.

Finding The Right People

Quality Pest Services, Anaheim, Calif.

Now with five branches throughout Southern California, Quality Pest Services has been growing rapidly since its inception in 2016. Quality Pest Services is a sub-contract fumigation and volumetric heat service provider whose mission is “to provide the very best service available in the industry,” according to President Lee Whitmore. Whitmore, who has more than 20 years of fumigation experience, has assembled a team of experienced, competent 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. — Kierra Sondereker

The Rambo Total Pest Control team in front of their office in Puyallup, Wash.

Balance and Consistency

Rambo Total Pest Control, Puyallup, Wash.

Rambo Total Pest Control’s company culture values balance and consistency. The firm holds monthly meetings that include the entire staff, which allows it “to keep everybody on the same page and to maintain consistency for our clients and our team,” said President Luke Rambo. In addition, Rambo’s lead technician and head of training rides along with a technician every week. The ride alongs operate on a rolling schedule, providing technicians with the opportunity to connect with management on a one-on-one level for eight hours in a truck at least once every three months. The company strives to promote a healthy work-life balance for its employees, believing it will enable them to take the best care of their clients. — Paige Bennett

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Safer Home Services, Clearwater, Fla.

Safer Home Services has a six-word motto when it comes to customer service: Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back. The firm, which launched in 2014, was created “from the customer perspective backwards,” said President and CEO Jim Swayne. Safer Home values and expects high achievement from its employees, Swayne said, and, in turn, shares its successes with them. Safer Home has grown from $124,000 in 2014 to $2.36 million in 2018; the company’s fast growth strategy has it reaching or exceeding $15 million by 2025, according to Swayne. Safer Home provides once-a-year pest control and guarantees its termite protection. — Paige Bennett

Steve Hotsenpiller

Pest Co in Mid-Mo

Steve’s Pest Control, Holts Summit, Mo.

Family-owned and -operated Steve’s Pest Control was founded by Steve and Anita Hotsenpiller in 1988. The company says all of its service technicians have been hired by Steve based on attitude and professionalism. And to showcase that professionalism, the company has set itself apart by advertising on the radio for the past 18+ years. In 2001, Steve’s “had a jingle written that we still use today,” Hotsenpiller says. He attributes the achievement to several factors: having a good jingle, being repetitive and sticking with the commitment. “We’re unique to our market” because no other pest control company in the area “really has an aggressive branding campaign,” he says. The Hotsenpillers’ daughter, Megan Jacobson, is the company’s office manager/co-owner and a member of NPMA’s Executive Leadership Program Class of 2019. Megan’s brother Jared Hotsenpiller is a co-owner as well and serves as the firm’s bed bug service manager. — Jodi Dorsch

Bill Clark and Sarah Thomas-Clark

Going All Out for the Team

Thomas Pest Services, Schenectady, N.Y.

Thomas Pest Services has tripled their technician count in the past three years. That growth most likely has something to do with owners Bill Clark and Sarah Thomas-Clark, who never miss a chance to celebrate their team members. In the company’s nine years of service, Thomas-Clark has made branded “swag bags” and treated new employees to lunch to celebrate their first day, recognized each employee’s birthday with a homemade dessert and card, and personally visited each technician on the road to bring them their favorite snacks and say thank you. “We want our employees and staff to feel empowered, valued, cared for and know we are always here for them, personally and professionally,” Clark said. — Kierra Sondereker

Some of the Town & Country Pest Solutions team at the office.
Matt and Colette Fabry.

Embracing Social Media

Town & Country Pest Solutions, Rochester, N.Y.

Hard-working employees, social media and new technology all have been important to the success of Town & Country Pest Solutions. The company has learned to “embrace social media and the ability to connect with customers and potential ones,” said President Caleb Fabry. Two in-house staff members manage Town & Country Pest Solutions’ marketing. The firm, which was founded by Caleb’s parents Matt and Colette in 1986, produces its own footage and materials, shooting photos and videos with a variety of equipment, such as DSLR cameras, drones and GoPros. Such technology, in addition to social media, has played a big part in the company’s growth. Moving forward, Town & Country Pest Solutions plans to expand its service offerings to additional areas. That’s only possible because of the company’s staff, Fabry said. “Great employees are what I attribute our fast growth in the pest control industry to,” he said. — Paige Bennett

Donnie Shelton

Digital Marketing Pays Dividends

Triangle Pest Control, Raleigh, N.C.

When Donnie Shelton began running Triangle Pest Control out of his home, he turned to digital marketing to build his new business. By investing in hiring platforms such as Coalmarch, Triangle Pest rose to a multi-million dollar enterprise in just four years. With this digital marketing mindset, Shelton said he was able to “win the right customers; take advantage of the changing digital marketing landscape; and find, hire and keep the right employees.” With digital marketing’s help expanding the company, Triangle Pest is now able to serve its community beyond pest control, with employees committing time and energy to various community projects, including Toys for Tots and Habitat for Humanity. — Kierra Sondereker

Brad Olsen

Constant Customer Communication

Urban Desert Pest Control, Phoenix, Ariz.

Yelp reviews are part of every pest control business, but Brad Olsen, co-owner of Urban Desert Pest Control, makes sure he capitalizes on this chance to directly communicate with customers. “We respond to every person that gives us feedback,” Olsen said. “This means fixing people that are upset and thanking people who are happy.” Yelp is now a major driver of Urban Desert Pest Control’s growth, but the digital customer communication doesn’t stop there. Olsen also said the company’s social media content helped foster relationships with local news outlets, which has given Urban Desert the opportunity to educate current and potential customers with a dozen news articles on insects and rodents in the last two years. — Kierra Sondereker