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2020 Growth Leaders: Success takes flight

|  September 25, 2020
PHOTO: A-1 PEST CONTROL

A-1 Pest Control’s executive team includes, from left, Bruce Roberts, president; Bryson Cook, specialty crew manager; Thomas Williams, territory manager; Chris Smith, director of sales; and Casey Winkler, director of operations. PHOTO: A-1 PEST CONTROL

A-1 Pest Control President Bruce Roberts, ACE, grew up in the industry. A year before he was born, his parents, Jack and Peggy, bought a fledgling pest control business in Lenoir, N.C., in 1966 — shortly after Jack completed pest control training at North Carolina State University (NCSU). Starting at age 12, the younger Roberts worked at the family business on school breaks and during summers.

After graduating from NCSU, however, Roberts also worked as a pilot for the North Carolina Wildlife Commission, a career that lasted 27 years. “During that time, I more or less had two full-time jobs” before retiring in 2016, he says. “With A-1, I started on termite jobs, then general pest control, then management, then ownership.”

Roberts says he was able to balance the two careers all those years because of the strong, organized team at A-1. While today his professional focus is on pest control, he is still active in aviation, serving as chairman of the Foothills Regional Airport Authority and as the Caldwell County representative.

This year has had unprecedented challenges for business owners, but Roberts attributes A-1’s projected growth of 12 percent in 2020 to a steady demand for residential pest control. “In some form or another, I believe the government stimulus money is reaching us through the consumer,” he points out.

Roberts hopes to expand his team even further in 2021 and beyond.

“Our goal is to expose more people to the career opportunities we have, then hire, train, equip and nurture them, and help them reach their full potential,” he says. “Pest control is a great industry to be in. We want to spread the word.”

ABOUT A-1 PEST CONTROL

HEADQUARTERS: Lenoir, N.C.

2019 REVENUE: $5.2 million

PROJECTED 2020 REVENUE: $5.8 million

PROJECTED INCREASE: 12%

BRUCE ROBERTS’ BUSINESS TIPS:

1. Be persistent. There are many things that are not going to go your way. Sometimes, it’s just slightly off, while other times, you are going to say “Wow, I did not see that coming.” You are going to try things that do not work at all, and you are going to trust people who will let you down. You have to remind yourself about the things that are going right, and the people you connect with who are good people and will be there for you.

2. Hire people your customers will trust. When you have a point of contact customers like — whether it is a customer service representative, technician or manager — customers will give that person a chance to make things right when problems arise. On the other hand, when customers become numbers, we become numbers to them, too. Let’s face it: Our pest opponents have numbers and time on their side; we look to win the war, but they may win a battle here and there.

3. Listen to trusted people around you, but more important, listen to yourself. You know that feeling you get sometimes about something or someone, and later you realize, “I knew that didn’t feel right”? Don’t just “hear” what people are saying. Truly listen. Stay tuned in to conversations. Don’t let your mind drift off. When you listen, you begin to understand what people need. If you need time to think, take it. I benefit a lot from just thinking on things overnight.

Heather Gooch

About the Author:

Heather Gooch is the editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at hgooch@northcoastmedia.net or 330-321-9754.

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