A new kind of start-up


January 4, 2023

Illustration: Ellagrin/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Illustration: Ellagrin/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

“All good things must come to an end,” but I hate when it happens. Like the last french fry in a McDonald’s bag or the last page in a Stephen King book or the last KISS concert (just kidding, there will never be a “last” KISS concert), everything has a stopping point — including the “Start-up Diaries” in Pest Management Professional (PMP) magazine.

More than 16 years ago, I approached then-Editor-in-Chief Marty Whitford (now publisher and corporate VP of content) about letting me write a column about the ups and downs of starting a pest control company. I sent him some writing samples, and miraculously he agreed to let me share with all of you the “Start-up Diaries.” The first article didn’t even appear in the magazine. It ran online in September 2006. But the reception to my first story was pretty good, and Marty moved me into the magazine with other big hitters like Dr. Austin Frishman, Stuart Aust and Paul Bello. Before too long, I was writing a monthly column — and having a blast doing it.

The column content was intended to show other start-ups how to get to the next level. As many of you know, I haven’t held anything back, including my monthly and yearly stats. What the column ended up being, in many instances, was about my screw-ups and mishaps. Like the time I almost let my Illinois certification expire and I had to run next-door to Iowa in November to get my certs (forehead slap). Or the first-ever Schopen Pest Solutions Chili Cookoff that ended with our toilets and floor drains overflowing with sewage.

But for every misstep I took, there were many positives: hiring my first employee; purchasing my first building; hiring my first billing person (my wife, Tami); seeing both of my sons come to work for me. All these stories were published in this magazine.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been on the cover of PMP twice: Once in a group shot for the 2017 PMP Growth Summit coverage, and again in April 2022 for “Recruiting and Retaining All-Stars.” I hope to get on the cover again soon promoting my next adventure with PMP: “Start-up Stories.” (Editor’s Note: Pete, let’s keep that cart behind the horse, please.)

Ohhhhhh, wait, readers, did you think this was my farewell story? My swan song? Far from it, my friends. PMP’s editors and I have concocted a way for me to continue writing fun articles for the magazine a while longer. We might even outlast Grey’s Anatomy.

Gearing up for growth

Pete Schopen

Pete Schopen, owner and founder, Schopen Pest Solutions

Starting next month, I will be chronicling the adventures of five pest control companies. These five companies have let me into their part of the pest control world, and I will help, coach and mentor them throughout 2023. With hard work, smart planning and God’s grace, we should see some tremendous growth from these brave participants.

Each month, I will introduce you to one of the five companies. Their leaders were hand-picked by me after interviewing more than 20 pest control businesses across the United States.

These companies have agreed to open their books to me and show all of us how they perform pest control. If I see something I don’t like, I will talk to them about it and game-plan a change. If I see something cool, we will make it cooler. If they are growing by 15 percent per year, we will try and amp it up to 20 percent. After meeting our pest pros in the first half of 2023, we will cycle back through them in the second half of the year and see how they are progressing.

Meet the PMPs

My five participating firms joining me on this next leg of the Pete Schopen journey are:

Our participants come from a wide variety of backgrounds including:

  • Two husband-and-wife teams
  • Two minority owners
  • Two Gen X-owned firms
  • One pair of brother co-owners
  • One Millennial-owned firm
  • Two Gen Z-owned firms
  • One former chef
  • A parent of four kids
  • One lepidopterist

I can’t wait for you to meet everyone, and I hope these PMPs have as much fun growing and chronicling their businesses as I have these past 16-plus years in PMP magazine.

All good things must come to an end, sure, but Pete Schopen is like a wart that grows back each year.

About the Author

Avatar photo

Schopen is owner of RV There Yet Pest Consulting and my email is rvthereyetpest@gmail.com.

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