Parting isn’t always sweet sorrow

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May 26, 2022

Photo: designer491/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: designer491/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

“It says here on your application that your name is Genghis Khan. Is that spelled with one ‘h’ or two? Do you have a reliable vehicle to get to work? How do you handle upset villagers after you pillage their homes? Are you afraid of heights? On your resume, there is a smudge mark — is that 4 million or 40 million people under your rule? Well, it looks like you are an overachiever, Mr. Khan. Can you start on Monday?”

Truth be told, I kind of suck at hiring employees. I try to see the good in everyone, and I end up hiring some questionable people. Mr. Khan never did show up on Monday.

Here is my Top 10 list of people whose employment with Schopen Pest Solutions ended badly. Names have been changed, obviously:

  1. I hired Janice without conferring with anyone else. She was dressed professionally, had a wonderful education and spoke well. Unfortunately, after about eight months on the job, she was getting a minimal amount of work done. I brought her into a meeting with my general manager (GM), and I coached her on how to get better at her job. My GM praised me for how calm I was during the 15-minute session. Janice, however, didn’t see it that way. She cleaned out her desk and wrote a scathing two-page review of my managerial style in which she said I was “aggressive.”
  2. Adam was hired as a technician. He was tall and goofy, but I liked his sense of humor. I remember thinking he was quirky, but harmless. One day, I get a call from a client who said his girlfriend was “traumatized” by Adam. Apparently, he was running ahead of schedule and needed to kill an hour. Instead of going back to his truck and studying, he plopped down next to her on the couch and started watching “Shrek.” The confused client jumped up from the couch, ran outside and called her boyfriend.
  3. Sven was a 40-something handyman I hired because he was local. During his training, he got kicked out of his home by his wife for drinking. One of my techs offered him a couch to crash on, but Sven declined in favor of living out of his car. When Sven finished training, he did well for about a week, but then started complaining about his pay. He ended up getting into a heated debate with me because he felt he deserved more money than the younger techs (who had the same amount of experience). He ended up quitting, got drunk and then was arrested for domestic battery. After he got out of jail, he began a texting campaign against me, my branch manager and the person who trained him. His texting tirade said he was going to steal our clients and give them to his “Godfather.” His “Godfather” was part of the mafia and was going to make my life miserable. I’m not swimming with the fishes yet, so apparently Sven has moved on.
  4. Malcom was stealing from clients. We eventually caught him with the goods and we fired him. The very next day, he was grilling sausages for his family when he had a massive heart attack and ended up in the hospital for several weeks. While I wish him well in recovery, I’m glad I no longer have a thief on my payroll.
  5. I had to fire Lenny for showing male body parts to another employee via his phone.
  6. Jane quit our company on her third day of training. While sitting in an entomology class I was teaching, I made a joke about rats, COVID and stink bugs all coming from China. She stood up and walked out because she felt I was making it political. Honest, I wasn’t!
  7. Nine years ago, I had a technician, Ralph, who was pushing for hourly wages vs. commissions because he was racking up a lot of miles. I met with my other employees, thought it over and then made the switch to hourly pay. Not too long after that, Ralph called me, upset, because I was making him drive to a customer 45 minutes away. I asked him why he was complaining, considering he was the one who wanted hourly wages. He slammed the phone down and called his wife. He went on a two-minute tirade calling me things that would make Quentin Tarantino cringe. Only problem was, it wasn’t his wife on the line: It was me. He had dialed the wrong number.
  8. Mel was a retired fireman I got to know through coaching baseball. He was friendly and funny, but lazy. He would power spray around the exterior of client’s homes while driving his truck. He once sold eight exterior bait stations and lined them up on the same side of a house. “It’s easier to check this way,” he explained on the day I fired him.
  9. A few years ago, I had a feeling that Alex, a technician, wasn’t checking exterior bait stations. I put money in several of our clients’ stations, along with a business card telling him to call me and the money would be his. Of course, Alex never called nor retrieved the money, so I fired him.
  10. A few months ago, I was having a decent interview with Randy, who is in his 30s. He was friendly and asked a lot of good questions about the job. The only “red flag” was a nearly non-existent work history. Randy told me he hadn’t worked due to family issues. When I told him I would need to run a background check, he let out a big sigh, stood up and left the room. As he was leaving, he looked over his shoulder and said, “You can read all about me in the Chicago Tribune.” It turns out Randy had been in jail for allegedly making threatening phone calls to a synagogue. It was all over the local and national news.

Schopen’s Open Book

Start-up: Schopen Pest Solutions Inc.
Headquarters: McHenry, Ill.
Founder: Peter F. Schopen Jr.
Start-up Date: April 11, 2006
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 39 (34 full-time, 5 trainees)
2006 REVENUE: $97,235
2007 REVENUE: $172,495
2008 REVENUE: $203,732
2009 REVENUE: $243,427
2010 REVENUE: $325,960
2011 REVENUE: $425,847
2012 REVENUE: $489,887
2013 REVENUE: $572,772
2014 REVENUE: $687,326
2015 REVENUE: $858,180
2016 REVENUE: $1,079,068
2017 REVENUE: $1,478,600
2018 REVENUE: $1,877,496
2019 REVENUE: $2,095,118
2020 REVENUE: $2,398,367
2021 REVENUE: $3,295,259
2022 REVENUE TO-DATE: $743,742*
MARCH REVENUE: $279,445**
2022 GOAL: $4,119,344
*Up 33% from 2021.
**Up 21% from March 2021.

About the Author

Schopen is owner and founder of Schopen Pest Solutions, McHenry, Ill. You can email him at pete@schopenpest.com or reach him via Twitter: @schopenpest; Instagram: peteschopen; or Facebook: schopen pest solutions, inc.

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