Founded in 1977 and purchased by Andy and Nancy Carace in 1986, Pest-End is a shining example of how a generational transition can go even better than expected.
When Andy and Nancy decided to retire in 2019, they had in place three solid leaders: Son Adam, an Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE), CEO; his wife, Courtney, also an ACE and serving as COO; and their daughter, Amanda Forrestall, who is CFO. Adam and Amanda grew up in the business, of course, and Courtney basically did, too: As Adam’s high school sweetheart, she joined Pest-End at age 16 to earn money for car repairs.
While overseeing two offices, in Plaistow, N.H., and Methuen, Mass., the trio share the workload equally. As Amanda notes, “I think we all manage our time differently, but our work ethic and dedication to all the employees are the same. We don’t have separate offices or departments that we run.”
Because the three leaders have watched Pest-End grow and evolve under Andy and Nancy, there were certain tenets they knew had to stay in place — like keeping the company name the same, treating employees well, and staying involved in the community. But other changes have been made — some gradual, some not. The list includes moving to a paperless office, creating a sales team, and implementing a wildlife division. The result has meant a skyrocketing 22 percent growth in 2020 alone, and growing.
The trio agrees the biggest change, and perhaps the biggest arbiter of Pest-End’s growth, was implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), which provides leadership and consulting tools for business owners to optimize their mission, their focus and the capabilities of their teams.
“It brought a huge change in how we operate the business,” Courtney says. “Having a system in place brought more structure and greater accountability to the organization, and has helped the three of us more clearly define our roles within the business.”
Adam says working within a formal system helps ensure that “as we grow, we are maintaining proper levels of management so our team and our customers still feel like a family.” Amanda agrees, noting it has also helped in the continued development of Pest-End’s leadership team.
Ninety-minute meetings with the trio and other executive team members are scheduled weekly, to determine “what new initiatives we need to undertake and what issues need to be addressed, and provides a forum for open discussion about the business in general,” Courtney explains.
Also, Amanda says, “the three of us communicate multiple times a day through multiple channels all day long. Whether it’s email, text or Google Chat, we have about a dozen conversations going on at once through which we all manage to stay connected.”
Adam agrees that communication has been key in keeping the trio focused on the same goals and strategies. So has checking the ego at the door and being open to new ideas. “We are three very different people, and although we may come to a situation with different points of view, we see this as a good thing, as it provides us with a lot of options that we might not have considered individually. We all work really hard on coming to the best solution for our company.”
Optimizing the time spent in the office means the trio can relax while at home. Amanda and Adam recall how, growing up, their parents often strategized around the dinner table. “We did not have family meals, we held family meetings with food,” Adam quips.
On the other hand, his sister notes, “Our parents also made it perfectly clear that family comes first, no matter what, and our business comes second. That always has stuck with me; it helps me get out of my own way sometimes and reminds me to get down on the floor and play with my kids.”
Courtney agrees completely, although she admits to a startling revelation that took place this summer. Out of the blue, she says, their son Jack, 7, asked earnestly whether “Jen was enjoying her new marketing role and if Jim, our new tick and mosquito service technician, liked being part of that division.”
“Those questions gave me pause, as we had never specifically discussed our new team members with Jack,” Courtney muses, noting he must have just overheard Jen and Jim’s names in earlier conversations. But even if none of the next Carace or Forrestall generation decides to get into pest control, she says, it’s good to give them some idea of what their elders are doing at their jobs.
“We bring them to the office periodically and give them small tasks to do, such as stamping envelopes for bills,” Courtney adds. “Involving them in conversations about Pest-End helps expose them to different facets of the business. This allows them to determine if they want to be involved as they grow up, and help instill a deep appreciation for the hard work and dedication needed to ensure a business succeeds and the team remains happy.”
Amanda agrees, noting she believes the attitude the trio shares to growing Pest-End is the biggest key to their success: “You just get up every day and work harder than the day before, because you know it will be worth it.”
- Headquarters: Plaistow, N.H.
- 2020 revenue: $6.45 million
- Projected 2021 revenue: $8 million
- Projected increase: 24%
PEST-END’s BUSINESS TIPS
- Amanda: Hire smart people. It’s good to hire people who have expertise in certain areas. We are focused on finding motivated employees who can help us reach our goals.
- Courtney: Love what you do. If you do not wake up energized every day, ready to tackle challenges, make decisions and strategize, you need to re-evaluate. Being passionate and invested in your business is an absolute must if you want to grow.
- Adam: Be true to who you are as a company. It is easy to chase the new product, service or customer, but is it really what is right for your business? Have core values, and live them in everything you do. Core values are a great moral compass for your company.