As the founder of and administrator for PestCemetery, a private group on Facebook where pest management professionals (PMPs) can speak openly about the highs and lows in their day-to-day jobs, Jerry Schappert, ACE, oversees a lot of discussions about purchasing and investments. From flashlights to flashy trucks, software systems to heating systems, all sorts of tangibles — and in the case of marketing and training, sometimes intangibles — are ripe for recommendation and debate.
Schappert, Pest Management Professional’s “Problem Solvers” columnist, owns The Bug Doctor in Ocala, Fla. He shares many of the concerns fellow PMPs have over whether they’re budgeting and purchasing to the best of their abilities.
“It doesn’t matter how big you are, smart purchasing is just as much a skill as correctly dusting a void,” he point out. And Schappert knows from whence he speaks: “I once overextended myself early in my business pretty severely. It took a few years to put things back together.” (Editor’s Note: See more of Schappert’s insights in The future looks bright for 2021 industry growth.)
TIME FOR EXPANSION
While not the case for every PMP, many in the industry have seen a major uptick in demand for service. Josh Handy, owner of Foremost Pest & Wildlife, for example, has grown so much in his first year — beating his first-year goal by $59,000 by July 2020 — that his wife quit her job to join him in their Monroe, N.C.-based business.
“So far, the biggest adjustments have been her learning the accounting software and my way of doing things,” he admits. “The plan is for her to be with me in the field until the spring, and we have divvied up office responsibilities.”
With a customer base that’s about 75 percent residential, Aaron Veal, ACE, has grown Marysville, Tenn.-based Phoenix Pest Control from requiring only a “truck office” to a bona fide building. But the office-hunting process was a long one, and he decided renting wasn’t the way to go like he had initially thought.
“I ended up buying a shed building, so I could partition half of it as an office and half as chemical storage,” Veal explains. “I had been keeping inventory on my truck, but I’ve hired an employee, and we’re getting to the point where we need storage.”
Buddy Herring, owner of Summit Pest Solutions, also says his company is growing. He started his Mills River, N.C.-based business in early 2020, and as a result “more than doubled our expectations for volume within the first nine months of our first year.”
He exceeded his goal, despite the setback he suffered with a herniated disc just days after opening for business. Now fully recovered, Herring is in the process of moving operations from his basement to a rented building with storage.
“We entertained the idea of a lease with a ‘first right of refusal to purchase’ option once the lease was up, but we are still in our infancy and really want to concentrate our efforts and expenditures on growing our customer base and fleet over the next few years, until we can get better terms with the banks,” Herring says. “The building we are looking to lease will allow us to add a storage building inside the fenced area in the back where we can store chemicals, and we will use off-site structure for trailers, bed bug heat equipment, etc., that is adjacent to the property for a minimal additional fee.”
Andrew Sievers, ACE, co-founded Profishant in 2009, after working with three other pest management firms and learning “a lot about how I want to be treated as an employee.” With that Golden Rule philosophy in place, he’s seen steady growth for the company of at least 25 percent each year. In 2021, he says, the Fairhaven, Mass.-based firm is poised to grow even more. “We added five new staff members in 2020, and bought two new trucks to accommodate work for at least the first few months of 2021,” he reports. “We are able to grow because of the people we choose to hire, and the way we treat them. Investing more in our staff buys us loyalty and care, and makes it harder for competitors to lure them away.”
Top planned purchase categories for 2021
- General household pest (GHP) bait and stations
- Rodent bait and stations
- GHP insecticides
- Uniforms and personal protective/safety equipment
- Vehicles and accessories
Source: Pest Management Professional 2021 State of the Industry Survey