This month, my back-page column features a question- and -answer (Q&A) session with Pete Schopen, a regular Pest Management Professional (PMP) columnist and owner of McHenry, Ill.-based Schopen Pest Solutions.
1. You worked for your dad’s pest management company, Mid Central Pest Control, for years before you launched Schopen Pest Solutions. What advice do you have for family businesses?
My three biggest dos for family-owned and -operated professional pest management businesses are:
- Be humble. Listen to your relatives and get different viewpoints.
- Don’t jump the line. Make your children or siblings climb through the ranks if they want to learn, and perhaps eventually run, the business.
- Go above and beyond the call of duty. This is your family’s legacy. Act like it matters, one day, job and task at a time.
My three biggest don’ts for family businesses are:
- Don’t expand too fast. You’ll spread yourself too thin and be forced to promote people who aren’t qualified.
- Don’t bring work home. That includes discussing work–related problems at family parties.
- Don’t let differences in opinion become personal. Unlike other peers or employees, you have to see these people at Easter.
2. Your columns — Start–Up Diaries and Humor in Uniform — embody PMP’s commitment to infotainment. How did your broadcast journalism schooling and experience pave the way for your writing?
I’m writing an article? I thought these were counseling sessions! You told me you were a doctor! (Seriously though, am I getting paid for this?)
3. If you were President of the United States for one day, what would be the first thing you’d do?
Encourage Congressman Bob Dold (R-IL, son of PMP Hall of Famers Bob and Judy Dold) to introduce a bill to the House that sets term limits, cuts government pensions and creates a flat tax, reducing the need for the IRS.
4. While we’re fantasizing, if you were king for a day in your house, what would be the first thing you’d do?
The dog must sleep in his own bed! My wife has spoiled him rotten and lets him sleep with us. He has terrible gas!
5. Can you illustrate how apples rarely fall far from the tree by sharing the funniest thing each of your children have said or done?
My eldest son, Trey, is a great swimmer and leader on his team. He and his teammates joke around about peeing in the pool while they race. Recently, Trey wanted to loosen up the guys before a tough polo match, so he had shirts printed that read, “I pee in pools.” It was hilarious.
A few weeks later, Trey’s coach (who stands 6’5″ and weighs 285 lbs.) was destroying his swimmers in a ping-pong match at my house. Everyone knows that Caleb, my 11-year -old, is great at table tennis, so Coach called Caleb down from his room where he was studying. After thrashing Coach, Caleb flipped his paddle onto the table and said with a smile on his face, “That wasn’t worth interrupting my education.” Coach chased him all the way back to his room.
You can reach PMP Editorial Director and Publisher Marty Whitford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-706-3766.