Could 2019 just be forgot and never brought to mind?


January 29, 2020

One bright spot in 2019 was the author attending the PMP Hall of Fame the night before PestWorld got underway in San Diego, Calif., in October. PHOTO: DIANE SOFRANEC

One bright spot in 2019 was the author attending the PMP Hall of Fame the night before PestWorld got underway
in San Diego, Calif., in October. PHOTO: DIANE SOFRANEC

Goodbye, 2019. Good riddance, 2019. And as my Nebraska Momma likes to say, “Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.”

If 2019 was the windshield, I was definitely the bug. So many things went wrong. So many people acted immaturely. Many bad decisions were made by yours truly. Normally, I dread the slow season of November through March. In 2019, it couldn’t come quickly enough.


How about firing my own brother in February? I followed that up by firing my best-producing tech the same day. They were causing problems within my company, stirring the pot, and both had become cancerous to Schopen Pest Solutions. That same week, I had another tech quit because of a nervous breakdown. One week later, my inside sales guy quit to take a union job.

During the summer, we had less drama, but there were still some issues. Losing my inside sales guy really hurt. In June, we had our first — and hopefully, last — flat month in company history. Without my inside sales guy helping me chase down leads, we had just $700 of growth. Additionally, I fired a programmer and lost two techs: One became a truck driver, and another left for the sunny state of Florida. To make matters worse, I underfunded our workman’s comp insurance plan and owed more than $21,000.

February was a bad month for employee-related issues, but September proudly stood up and said, “Hold my beer.” I had a tech quit. Then a programmer quit.

One tech missed some time for wisdom teeth removal, and another took some time off to be with his newborn baby — both valid reasons, but both further depleting an already overworked labor pool.

One of my best techs started getting mysterious joint pains, and couldn’t physically run a route anymore. Another tech started getting mysterious migraines, and couldn’t physically run his route anymore. Yet another employee had jury duty. One of my promising service technicians temporarily lost his license, thanks to an insurance issue. Aggghhhh!

As we rolled into October and November, things got worse. Another tech missed some time after his wisdom teeth were extracted. Police officers showed up at our building because one of our service guys left a school account during a lockdown drill at a school, which is a no-no.

My nephew, who had been with me for four years, crashed his brand-new truck, causing $16,000 in damage. He quit a week later.

On Veteran’s Day, someone plowed their vehicle into our building and took off before the police could arrive. Damage to the building was $28,000. My deductible is $10,000. Sigh.


As stressful as 2019 turned out to be, there were still some highlights:

  • My wife wrote a great column for PMP last month.
  • My speaking engagements have been expanding.
  • I finally went to PestWorld.
  • Speaking of PestWorld, I loved San Diego and hanging out with Fred Willey of Invader Pest Management and Larry Cash of Estrella Mountain Pest Control.
  • My son Caleb made it to the state meet in cross country.
  • I’ve met some amazing people this year, including Joel Miller, Miller Pest and Termite; Eric Fletcher, Eastern Arizona Exterminating; and Kevin Thorn, Thorn Pest Solutions.
  • We passed the $2 million mark.
  • It was a total team effort this year. It wasn’t just me putting out fires. Several people stepped up to the plate and hit home runs this year. And for that, I am truly grateful!
  • My tech who was experiencing the joint pains has since learned he has fibromyalgia. He is now our inside sales guy, and he is doing great.

In 2020, my goals are:

  • Crack the $2.5 million barrier.
  • Hire a full-time commercial salesperson.
  • Promote an employee to service manager.
  • Promote an employee to quality control.
  • Watch my son Trey walk to the podium and graduate from the College of Wooster (Ohio) in May.
  • Create a better and more professional training manual.
  • Get our $125,000 roof finally completed and paid off.

I know God will only give me what I can handle. There is also a quote from German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that states, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” If that’s true, I must be Superman.

Schopen is owner and founder of Schopen Pest Solutions, McHenry, Ill. You can email him at or reach him via Twitter: @schopenpest; Instagram: @peteschopen; or Facebook: Schopen Pest Solutions, Inc.


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