Growth Leaders: Running like clockwork

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September 30, 2021

PHOTO: BRIAN SCHOONMAKER

Brain Schoonmaker is the president of Capitol Pest. PHOTO: BRIAN SCHOONMAKER

Brian Schoonmaker juggles a lot of responsibilities within the professional pest management industry. A former president of the Maryland State Pest Control Association, today he is its legislative chair and its state policy affairs representative (SPAR) for the National Pest Management Association. And of course, he’s also involved in the day-to-day responsibilities of Capitol Pest. He started with the company in 2011 as VP, and has served as president since 2015.

Schoonmaker encourages colleagues to “stop sitting on the sidelines and start getting involved” by doing things like attending local association board meetings and seeing where they can use their time and talents to help out on committees, event planning, and more.

Schoonmaker makes it sound easy enough, but how does he manage to balance it all? In a word, he says: Delegate.

“Don’t make the mistake I made by trying to do it all myself for far too long,” he recalls. “Hire the right managers. Train them, trust them, and watch the engine turn without you as quickly as you can so you do not burn yourself out. As long as you set up your standard operating procedures in every way possible to streamline your processes, and teach others to manage them, you will be both successful and happy. One does not have to be at the cost of the other.”

He attributes what he has learned not only to experience, but by studying entrepreneurial experts. “The book Clockwork, by Mike Michalowicz, changed my life the most,” he says. “It’s about designing your business to run itself. Read it if you haven’t already; it will change your life if you are struggling to let go.”

With his leadership team ensuring the firm runs smoothly overall, Schoonmaker can focus on other matters, such as what it takes to attract and retain employees.

”We try our best to get people home to their families at a reasonable hour and try not to have anyone working on Saturdays, even during the busy season,” he offers as an example. “Does this practice hurt our bottom line? Sure it does, but I decided long ago that we could make it up somewhere else. It has proven to be the right decision.”

Schoonmaker says events that are fun and easy to put together go a long way in keeping company morale high, such as “throwing a company party in the middle of the summer to release some tension and come together as a team, a bowling event or some other activity, and giving a turkey or ham for Thanksgiving to every employee. Pre-pandemic, I was taking every employee out for a one-on-one breakfast twice per year in an effort to check in on them as individuals, and to support them in their growth and challenges as a mentor to young people.”

There are the big things, too, he adds, like “great benefits, a track for people to grow and earn more money, as we are growing fast and need leaders, and a lot of love and support.”

But alongside that love and support is a focus on growth, he says, advising colleagues to “set up your culture around selling and maintaining a high-retention rate of recurring revenue services. Not only will that help you build quickly, but you’ll also be extremely profitable due to route density, and be more attractive to possible buyers when you are ready to retire. Think of routing as the firewood for the fire.”

About the Author

Heather Gooch

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

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