2020 Growth Leaders: ‘Doctors of the environment’
September 25, 2020
September 25, 2020
As a young man, Matt Hamblin felt called to become a medical professional so he could help better the world. But circumstances change, and a part-time job in pest control to make ends meet led to a genuine passion for the profession. Hamblin soon realized he could help better the world by making his customers’ environments better, safer places.
Founded by Hamblin in 2008, Smart Pest Solutions had its best first and second quarters ever in 2020 — and is on track to grow by nearly 30 percent over 2019.
The Tempe, Ariz.-based company’s focus on multi-family housing has helped during the pandemic, Hamblin says.
“Everybody is self-isolating in family units. They’re hanging out more on their couches, either working from home or waiting to get back to work. This is a perfect setup for bed bugs,” he adds. “The bugs have more opportunity for bloodmeals, so they’re reproducing faster. I’m sure that is leading to more work this year.”
Cockroach and rodent sightings also are on the rise, with families eating at home more frequently and filling apartment dumpsters with take-out boxes and food scraps at a faster rate. Hamblin got in ahead of the curve by calling his property management clients this spring.
“I told them, ‘I feel I should warn you that you should set aside some extra budget for this increased pest pressure,’ and I explained why,” he says. Because of the level of trust he has built with his clients, they took his advice to beef up the budget, and also get dumpsters emptied more frequently to prevent pest populations from gaining stronger footholds.
Hamblin says he and his team are proud to provide customers with pest control and prevention. “Pest management professionals are like doctors, if you think about it. Doctors are killing ‘bugs’ with internal medicine. We’re killing bugs with external ‘medicine.’
“And like doctors, we diagnose, prescribe, let the customer decide what to do, and then treat and follow up,” he adds. “We’re doctors of the environment.”
ABOUT SMART PEST SOLUTIONS
HEADQUARTERS: Tempe, Ariz.
2019 REVENUE: $3.8 million
PROJECTED 2020 REVENUE: $4.8 million
PROJECTED INCREASE: 26%
MATT HAMBLIN’S BUSINESS TIPS:
1. Listen to the dentist. At age 23, I volunteered for a week at a non-profit in Mexico, as a Spanish translator for a dentist. At the time, I was planning to become an oral surgeon. The dentist told me two things that will forever resonate with me. First, that “old men only regret the things that they do not do,” and then in reference to the people we were serving, “the line will always be out the door with people that need our help.” Those words encouraged me to abandon medicine and pursue pest management, with the hope of someday being able to do so much more than I could do with my two hands alone.
2. Listen to the farmer. At age 30, right before I left the company I was working for to start Smart, I spoke to a lifelong mentor and successful farmer from my hometown. He was willing to invest in me, but encouraged me to keep it simple and try to do it on my own, without anyone else. “The crop grows best in the shadow of the farmer,” he said, meaning that when you are personally putting your heart into your own business, it will flourish.
3. Listen to the song. At age 33, I would go on long runs to try to fight off the stress of starting up the company. One day, a song came through my headphones during a run that touched me profoundly. It repeated over and over, “take less but see it grow … from the few and fortunate only, but I want to be someone else.” I had long assumed that I’d give back when I was “successful,” making large donations to good causes. What I realized that day was that even though I wasn’t yet at a target revenue — by a long shot — I couldn’t put off helping those in need.