The Right Choice for the ‘Proudly Unemployable’

Cover Story - Cover Story

January 11, 2017

Most owners (91 percent) of pest management companies would still become business owners even if they could hit the rewind button, found the PCT-NPMA 2016 Business Outlook survey.

“I think I’d be a horrible employee because I drive myself crazy; I’d probably get fired,” admitted Alfie Treleven, president of Sprague Pest Solutions in Tacoma, Wash. Ravi Sachdeva, CEO of American Pest Management in Manhattan, Kan., described himself as “proudly unemployable.”

Carl Braun, owner of Quality Pest Control in Omaha, Neb., is a serial business owner who retired from the health-care industry only to find he wasn’t quite ready to retire. He said he “couldn’t imagine doing anything else.” Five years ago he “bought a business primed to grow” and only wishes he had entered the pest management industry earlier.

The most rewarding aspects of owning a business included being my own boss (69 percent), the sense of accomplishment (64 percent), customers (57 percent), flexible schedule (52 percent) and financial benefits (47 percent), found the survey.

Click Image to View Gallery

But these rewards didn’t come without facing some big challenges early on, like having to generate revenue/customers (46 percent), personal sacrifice/long hours (45 percent), expenses and maintenance costs (33 percent), taxes/fees (33 percent) and marketing (29 percent).

“There have certainly been times in the past that I wondered if I had made the right decision but all in all it’s really worked out well,” admitted second-generation PMP David Hersh, president of Hersh Exterminating Service in Hermitage, Pa. “I don’t think I have any regrets.”

Bill Horgan, president of Debug Pest Control in Chepachet, R.I., who said he “definitely” would make the same decision to take over the family business, added that pest control has “afforded me and my family opportunities; we have a really great life and we’re trying to provide great lives for everybody who works for us, too.”

The majority (81 percent) of survey respondents are optimistic or very optimistic about the future of the pest management industry, and 46 percent agree or strongly agree that there has never been a better time to own a pest control firm than today.

Most owners (56 percent) don’t plan on going anywhere in the next five years; others will either pass along the business to a family member (15 percent), sell the business (14 percent) or are not yet sure of their plans (14 percent).

At Sprague Pest Solutions, generation four is teed up and taking on more leadership roles both inside and outside the company; they’re working with “a fantastic leadership cohort” that’s being developed to lead “a much larger business into the future,” said Treleven.

McCall Service is tackling the succession planning process too so there’s a methodical transition at some point, said Cooksey. Sachdeva is grooming employees to succeed him in 10 to 12 years, but would consider a buyer if he could secure employees’ retention and compensation.

Most owners (87 percent) believe their company is worth more or much more than it was five years ago. However, half of PMPs were neutral on whether they felt now is the best time to sell a pest control business.