The Road to Success? Start Small, Think Big

Cover Story: Top 100 - Cover Story: Top 100

New to the List: Servall Termite & Pest Control

May 14, 2020

Servall Termite & Pest Control was built on the ideals of a leader who is known for thinking big and believing in the strength of his people. Founder Jerry Lewis has grown Servall from a three-truck operation run out of his basement in 1972 into Tennessee’s largest independently owned pest control company and a new member of the Top 100.

Left to right: The three generations of Servall leadership include Marty Lewis (son), Jerry Lewis (grand- father/owner/founder) and Michael Lewis (grandson).

Now a three-generation business led by Lewis, his son Marty and his grandson Michael, Servall has seven offices — five in Tennessee and two in Kentucky — and 221 employees. Lewis empowers this “work family,” including managers, technicians and office staff, to be the best they can be, because he knows that when each person shines, the entire business succeeds.

“When you’re running an office, Jerry doesn’t come in and say, ‘You should do this or that.’ He trusts us to operate independently, making smart decisions and managing any issues that come up in our market,” says Thomas Scott, who runs Servall’s Clarksville, Tenn., office. “We believe that every one of us, whether we work in the office or in the field, is a piece of the puzzle. We each need to be in our place to make great things keep happening.”

Scott adds that service technicians enjoy a sense of independence, too, as “they have the opportunity to make very good salaries based on Servall’s commission structure. We appreciate how hard our technicians work, and we reward them for that,” he says. “That’s why they tend to stay with us for the long term.”

A unique aspect of Servall’s workforce is that the service technicians are primarily women. Scott says company management became aware that many of their customers preferred a female technician when they hired one woman 25 or 30 years ago. “We found that a female customer is often more comfortable having another woman come into her home while she’s there,” he explains. “Once we saw how customers welcomed this technician into their homes, we began hiring more and more women. Today 85 or 90 percent of our pest control technicians are women.”

The Servall executive management team is developing a franchising model that would help entrepreneurs build their own pest control and home care businesses.

The Servall team attributes its growth to not only outstanding service but also responsiveness to customer needs. Over the years, the company has expanded to provide a range of services beyond pest and termite control: gutter installation and maintenance, crawlspace encapsulations, insulation, moisture and fungus control, floor repair and support, and air duct cleaning. They focus on providing high-quality services at a good price, which they deliver on by focusing on volume versus trying to make a large profit on any one customer or job.

What’s next on the horizon? The executive management team is looking to share the secrets of their success through franchising opportunities. They are developing a model with all of the resources and tools an entrepreneur might need to build their own pest control and home care business. “We’ve devoted our lives to this business, spending a lot of time and doing a lot of hard work, but feeling very blessed doing it,” says Scott. “Now we’d like to help others build something for themselves. We have a lot of experience to share.” — Donna DeFranco