Cultivate a positive company culture


March 12, 2020

Chris Baumann, left, earned the Schopen Pest Solutions Al Star Award for 2019. PHOTO: PETE SCHOPEN

Chris Baumann, left, earned the Schopen Pest Solutions Al Star Award for 2019. PHOTO: PETE SCHOPEN

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. — MAYA ANGELOU

On Dec. 31, 2019, Schopen Pest Solutions had its first-ever awards party, “The Schopies.” I handed out awards for “All-Stars,” “Rookie of the Year,” “Salesman of the Year,” “Most Valuable Person” and the “Employee of the Year.”

The Schopies were selected by me, but I took into consideration peer evaluations I had my employees fill out before the holidays. With 20 employees, I felt it was time to honor and give recognition to some of our outstanding workers. But it also was a private celebration for me for getting through a tumultuous year. The Schopies was one of many steps taken during the past 12 months to create a new and positive culture at Schopen Pest Solutions.

The key to coaching is love. It’s not knowledge; it’s not discipline. If you love ’em, you can discipline them. — DABO SWINNEY (Clemson football coach)

When 2019 started, I was very upset with the direction my company was heading. I hated the culture. I had some bad apples, and firing them was actually the easy part. The hard part was creating an environment at Schopen Pest Solutions that was professional, fun and would be embraced by the staff. Culture can’t be explained easily, and it definitely can’t be grabbed out of thin air. Culture is cultivated. It is grown. For better or worse, the seeds are planted by the owner, grown by the employees and harvested by the company. If an owner makes his employees feel good, then there will be a positive vibe throughout the entire company.

A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval. — MARK TWAIN

Wendy Sepsey is Schopen Pest Solutions' 2019 Employee of the Year. PHOTO: PETE SCHOPEN

Wendy Sepsey is Schopen Pest Solutions’ 2019 Employee of the Year. PHOTO: PETE SCHOPEN

In 2018, we were making lots of money. So I allowed some questionable things to happen. Most of it was sophomoric humor, but some of the behavior turned more serious. I caught a tech smoking marijuana on the job; a group of techs were sending out inappropriate pics; three staff members were in a love triangle; and two techs nearly came to blows. Not only that, I was screaming and yelling at people instead of coaching and teaching. Lack of leadership clearly led some of my employees to believe it was OK to behave badly.

Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with passion. — BRIAN CHESKY (Airbnb CEO)

First, I needed to change my attitude. I’ve always preached humility, but that doesn’t mean I practiced it. Second, I had to create a culture my employees could get behind and believe in. Third, I got rid of anyone who wasn’t rowing the boat in the same direction as me. Next, I started empowering some of my employees to be leaders, and look at the long-term goals vs. day-to-day paychecks. I also added in more rewards and fewer punishments. Finally, I started making the successes less about me and more about the group.

The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators. — EDWARD GIBBON (English historian)

There is no single culture-making recipe, so I started picking the brains of people within our industry. One common thread was conducting meetings. I used to hate meetings, but now I look forward to them. I meet with each technician daily to go over their individual routes. It has helped us get out ahead of many potential problems with clients.

On Tuesdays, I meet one-on-one with my billing director, program director and sales director. I also meet with my routing coordinators each week. Every month, I have a company-wide gathering that includes breakfast and lunch.

The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best. — EPICTETUS (Greek philosopher)



Part of my new process is to listen to my employees and ask lots of questions. When I do talk, I try to coach instead of preach. I’ve improved and finalized our key performance indicators (KPIs) for the techs, and they love them. We are conducting peer evaluations twice a year.

I’m giving out more swag, such as clothing, books, tools, flashlights, monetary rewards, paid time off, and other perks. We also are trying to live by our core values, as set up by my employees. These include compassion, consistency, dedication to the company’s success, and enthusiasm.

As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. — MAHATMA GANDHI

As we head into our busy season, I can’t wait to see how the new and improved Schopen Pest Solutions grows in 2020.

We try really, really hard! — PETE SCHOPEN

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


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