The pest management industry is full of stories of people who entered the industry accidentally and never left, and of people who were literally born into the profession.
Tom Jarzynka, senior director of pest prevention quality assurance for Massey Services, falls into the latter category and his early pest control narrative involved more than riding along with his dad or hanging out at the office. It involved the sale of a termite job at the ripe old age of 10.
Jarzynka, known as “TJ” to his Massey and industry peers, was sitting at the kitchen table in his Cub Scout den mother’s house working on a craft project when he noticed a baby food jar on the windowsill with some dirt and insects in it.
The naturally curious Jarzynka picked it up, looked it over and put it back. The ensuing conversation with his den mother went something like this:
“Tom, your daddy is a bug man. What kind of bugs are those?”
“Termites,” answered Jarzynka.
“How much does your Daddy charge to get rid of termites?”
“My dad was working for Lystads Pest Control at the time and the company sent out a mailer that shared company news and listed all the sales for the company. It was called “The Squeak!!!” recalls Jarzynka. “The next issue had my name listed for a termite sale of $300!”
Jarzynka isn’t sure if he received a commission on the sale, but it did spur his desire to follow in his father’s footsteps and embark on a career protecting people’s homes and businesses from pests.
The Early Years
Jarzynka’s father, Joe, started with Lystads Pest Control when Tom was six and the family moved from Grand Island, Neb., to St. Joseph, Mo., to Hutchinson, Kan., before settling in Ft. Worth, Texas. Tom was around the shop quite often growing up and the seeds were planted for him to join the company even though the seeds didn’t bloom right away.
After initially studying journalism in college, Jarzynka looked for something different and was employed in IT, but continued to work for his dad performing termite renewal inspections and treatments in the afternoons and weekends.
“I eventually came to the point where school did not interest me the way it should have and I was looking for a career change and there it was right in front of me,” says Jarzynka.
His father hired him full-time and assigned him to an open route in Lubbock, Texas with the understanding Tom would do that until he figured out his next move. That move turned out to be running routes in Ft. Worth and then Dallas, and the start of a nearly 40-year career in pest management.
Lystads was the first acquisition by Ecolab when the Minnesota-based company launched its pest elimination business and Jarzynka moved with the company to Memphis and Orlando, and eventually was named region vice president for Florida and Puerto Rico.
After 17 years with Lystads and Ecolab, Jarzynka moved to Centex HomeTeam Pest Defense and after a two-year stint with the company decided to switch gears.
“I took a week off after leaving Centex and painted the inside of the house and then set out on finding the company where I was going to spend the rest of my career,” recalls Jarzynka. “I mailed 38 resumes, did 22 interviews and then found my home — Massey Services.”
Jarzynka started as a commercial sales manager before moving to the company’s technical and training department.
“Initially I thought this was an odd move being that my background was in operations and sales, but it gave me the chance to use the problem-solving skills I learned at an early age in new ways,” says Jarzynka. “I was able to fully engage in the gears and pulleys of Massey’s Pest Prevention Program and share that knowledge with our team members. It has been a great fit.”
His passion for training and education is two-fold: Jarzynka feels an obligation to repay those who invested in him by paying it forward to others and he is thrilled by the opportunities the pest management industry offers.
“My father was able to support a family of eight by being a pest management professional and I am deeply grateful for the opportunities given to me by people who took the time to recognize my energy and passion, and gave me the space and guidance to grow,” says Jarzynka.
Jarzynka acknowledges that the industry’s training and education efforts need to continue to evolve, which includes deploying the latest technology and being mindful of the growing sophistication of both residential and commercial clients.
“Today’s customers are more well-informed than at any time before and, yes, they want a pest-free home and yard, but not with risk to their children, pets, and the environment,” says Jarzynka. “Our training needs to reflect that we understand our customers’ wants and needs and our service must meet and exceed their expectations.”
This knowledge is what drove Jarzynka to find a better, more environmentally responsible way to eliminate bed bugs. He began working with a heating vendor to determine the efficacy of eliminating bed bugs using convection heat. Massey’s Bed Bug Heat Remediation program eliminates bed bugs at all stages of life, reduces the amount of chemical treatment required as well as the time hotel rooms are required to be off market (typically only 48 hours to complete the entire treatment). This program earned Jarzynka a patent in 2011.
Jarzynka’s pursuit for finding innovative solutions to customers’ pest issues doesn’t go unnoticed within the halls of Massey.
“TJ never stops thinking about what’s next,” says Jeff Buhler, senior vice president, customer service at Massey Services. “Even when he’s not at the office or in the field, he’s still working but having fun doing it, such as testing a different type of mosquito treatment in his backyard. That type of commitment to excellence is what has allowed him to be so successful in his career.”
Learning for a Lifetime
Jarzynka has taken valuable lessons – from the importance of creating value for the customer to understanding efficient service models — from each of his career stops and has brought those experiences together at Massey.
“The sum of what I have learned is stronger than the individual parts,” says Jarzynka. “The Massey culture provides the structure to maximize the parts. It’s hard not to come away from time spent with Harvey L. Massey, chairman and CEO, Tony Massey, president, Ed Dougherty, EVP and COO, Jeff Buhler, Adam Jones, vice president of quality assurance, and countless others in our organization and not be better for it.”
He also credits being blessed with strong mentors throughout his career who let him be himself.
“I sometimes see the world through a different lens and having worked for and with people who let me be me has been incredible,” adds Jarzynka.
In his role at Massey he encourages mentoring among team members.
“Mentors are critical to our success as those relationships allow people to gain confidence in one another and invest in one another,’ says Jarzynka. “Our company has a strong commitment to provide mentoring and training for our team members. We know the more knowledgeable a technician is, the more satisfied our customers will be. That’s why we’re so focused on training.”