Like many pest management professionals (PMPs), Michael Cadenhead, an associate certified entomologist (ACE), learned the ropes early on from his dad, Millage “Greg” Cadenhead.
Greg launched Cadenhead Services Pest Control in 1983, after working 15 years for Florida Pest Control and Terminix. At the time, Michael was 8 years old. Today, Michael serves as CEO of the Crestview, Fla.-based company.
Flashing back 15 years, Michael fondly recalls riding shotgun with his dad on Saturdays, and assisting with termite inspections and termiticide applications.
“I grew up in the termite business,” says Michael, adding that he worked for his dad throughout his high school and college years.
Eventually, the business evolved from operating mostly with pen and paper to using the latest business technology. In 2003, Michael’s mother, Mary, passed away. At the time, Michael was director of technical and customer support for a technology provider.
“After Mom died, I came home to help Dad with the family business, and I fell in love with it,” Michael says. “I ran the day-to-day operations for years. In 2005, I bought the business from Dad, who then retired.”
“Dad passed away last year,” Michael adds with sadness. “I loved my father — he passed on the termite management torch to me — but we’d occasionally butt heads because I was more forward thinking,” Michael says. “Dad would often say, ‘This is the way we’ve always done it.’”
The “old school way” usually involved Michael’s father leafing through a giant Rolodex and sifting through piles of spreadsheets containing outdated information. But Michael methodically transformed the pen-and-paper outfit into a computer-based operation — developing a software system to keep track of customers’ services and payments. Then Michael helped the company evolve from using a dispatcher to two-way radio communications.
A lot has changed since those initial steps toward the technology light. Today, all of the company’s technicians have cell phones and tablet PCs that are linked to the office, allowing them to access records in real time. Additionally, company vehicles are tracked by GPS technology.
Cadenhead Services is designated QualityPro — the Good Housekeeping Seal for the professional pest management industry. With less than 2 percent of pest management companies earning the designation from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), QualityPro companies adhere to a set of standards above what’s required by state and federal regulations. The company also holds QualityPro Schools and GreenPro certifications.
Cadenhead offers various services for residential and commercial properties throughout the Florida Panhandle — covering Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Washington and Holmes counties. That includes inspecting and treating for the Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus).
“We’re in a high-risk area for Formosan subterranean termites partly because of our mild, year-round temperatures and humidity,” Michael says. “Here, if you place a piece of wood on the ground, within a week you’ll have termite activity. We’re ranked among the Top 10 areas in the country for Formosan termite pressure.”
From the start, Cadenhead has generated about half its annual revenue by managing termites. Ninety percent of the company’s termite management business is residential. The remainder stems from work at commercial sites and U.S. Air Force bases. Cadenhead’s termite techs treat existing structures and new builds.
“Structures are similar to fingerprints: Each one is different,” Michael says. “Each structure possesses obvious and subtle differences that require individualized attention. Fortunately, today there is a solid termite management solution for every scenario.”
One of the methods Cadenhead often deploys is liquid-based termiticide treatments, which require chemical applications be made to soil adjacent to structures. Depending on each structure’s layout, sometimes access to the soil might involve trenching, rodding or drilling. Cadenhead uses a few products to achieve both immediate and long-term termite control.
“Using multiple termite management methods, there’s less chance for a mistake to happen — for the termites to find and move through breaks in repellent barriers or to avoid contact with nonrepellents,” Michael says.
Michael is proud Cadenhead still services homes the company pretreated in the 1980s. Nowadays, though, Cadenhead uses cutting-edge technology to find and fix conducive conditions. For example, thermal imaging equipment allows Cadenhead techs to scan properties for moisture anomalies around windows, doors and roofs — before homeowners see any staining. Cadenhead techs also leverage radar technology to track termite activity, which helps them detect the pests early and their clients avoid major structural damage.
“We pretty much have clients for life,” Michael says. “If they move within our service area, we pick them up in their new house. During the past five years, the only termite management customers we’ve lost were a result of foreclosures.”
Equally promising, Michael says today’s clients are more aware of termites and the damage they can cause. “Around here, you’ve either already had termites or you’re going to have them,” Michael adds.
Contact John Walsh at email@example.com.