I sold my startup


March 6, 2023


Spending more time with my wife, Tami, and sons Trey and Caleb was a big factor in my decision. PHOTO: PETE SCHOPEN

Twenty-four years ago, I removed my broadcaster headset and gently laid down my microphone for the last time. I was at High Point University in North Carolina, broadcasting for the Elon Fightin’ Christians. I don’t remember who won the basketball game, but I do remember how lost I felt. How sad I felt. I was giving up my dream of being the next Bob Costas because I needed to move my young family back to Chicago, Ill., to be closer to family.

Unlike Forest Gump, who mused that “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get,” I think life is more like a great novel, with suspense, drama and plot twists. On Sept. 2, 1991, I landed my first job in radio. On March 1, 1999, I started my pest control journey at my father’s business, Mid Central Pest Control. On April 11, 2006, I became an entrepreneur, creating Schopen Pest Solutions. And on March 6, 2023, I sold Schopen Pest Solutions.

How it happened

For more than 16 years, you have faithfully followed me on this journey in “Start-Up Diaries,” from a one-man operation to a thriving business with nearly 50 employees. You were with me when I hired my first employee — and let him go a month later. You were with me when I made my first million. You were there when the first Schopen Chili Cookoff turned into a septic nightmare. Truck crashes, leaky roofs, The Schopies Awards, Jackalopes, Christmas parties, Taco Bell, etc. — you’ve seen it all through my eyes and words.


We built the company to become locally known over the years. PHOTO: PETE SCHOPEN

Now it’s time for me to begin my novel’s next chapter. There are many reasons why now was the right time to sell, including money, inflation, leadership within Schopen Pest Solutions, my age, our college-aged sons, my RV travel plans and COVID-19.

I received several offers during the past 18 months and as Schopen Pest Solutions continued to grow, so did the offers. But I wasn’t ready to sell because I love our customers and employees. I really wasn’t in a hurry to cash out, but I was curious. I decided to hire The Aust Group and see what kinds of offers they could generate. The “Aust boys” — Stuart, Dan, Nick and Chris — hit a home run. They negotiated a deal with Rollins Inc. that caught my attention.

Why it happened


It was less than two years ago when we moved into new corporate offices. PHOTO: PETE SCHOPEN

I know, I know. Some of you will call me a sellout. Some will remind me that money isn’t everything. And you are right. But it was a significant amount of money. As I said earlier, there were many other factors my wife, Tami, and I had to consider, including:

  • Our management team: I would never sell if our management team wasn’t up for the challenge. Over the past year, I have been slowly removing myself from the day-to-day operations. When Rollins came-a-knockin’, I sped up the process. My people rose to the challenge and are more than ready to take over.
  • Employee benefits: It was very important to me that our team members be protected and given better benefits than what we had been providing. Rollins came through with a great retirement package and a fair health insurance plan. Our team will have a human resources specialist now, and a great organization in which to grow.
  • Our sons: Tami and I are very close to our kids. Trey is in his second year at the Elon School of Law in Greensboro, N.C., while Caleb is finishing his sophomore year at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.
  • Inflation: As I continue to watch stocks plummet and interest rates rise, I can’t help but think the great mergers and acquisition (M&A) stampede might slow down in 2024. I could be wrong, but I think I am getting out near the peak of the market.

    This RV, purchased in 2020, is a big part of my next chapter — both professionally and personally. PHOTO: PETE SCHOPEN

    Pandemic: Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on — mask or vax — I believe we can all agree that just the perception of COVID-19 has been exhausting. When you are an owner, trying to make the right calls that affect people’s lives and livelihoods can cause a lot of sleepless nights. While this was not a significant factor in my decision, it was a factor.

  • RV There Yet Pest Consulting: I have a passion for coaching and teaching. I think there is a real need in our industry to improve training, culture and leadership. I am very excited to travel around the country in my RV, visiting pest pros at their facilities and helping them improve their businesses. I currently am mentoring seven companies, five that are allowing me to share their journeys through my “Start-Up Stories” new monthly Pest Management Professional (PMP) column (see p. 76).

What happens next

There is much more to this story to tell. I won’t officially be leaving Schopen Pest Solutions until Oct. 31. I will visit with all of you again later this year after the dust has settled. There are many moving pieces in the sale of a company (see “Lessons Learned” at the bottom of the article), and many people I need to mention. If you also are thinking about selling your company, I have some useful information for you that will be published in a future article.

I am so blessed to be selling my company at an age when most pro football coaches are just getting their first taste as a head coach. I’m selling at an age when most scientists are winning their first Nobel Prize. I’m selling at an age when Paul Rudd won his first “Sexiest Man of the Year” award. My only regret is that my dad isn’t alive to see this: Besides Tami, Big Pete was the person I wanted to impress the most.

Photo: Tim Klein

Schopen Pest Solutions was the focus of PMP’s cover story in April 2022. Photo: Tim Klein

The Queen and I will ride off into the sunset in our RV, but I’m far from retiring. I’m going to continue writing for PMP. I am on the steering committee for the 2024 Purdue University Pest Management Conference.

I will continue my speaking engagements at state associations, industry conventions and for individual pest control companies. This spring, Marie Sorrentino (Pest Pros Michigan), Alan Feuer (Preventive Pest Control), and I are kicking off a series of two-day seminars, teaching leadership to interested owners and managers. Our first one is at the end of April in Denver, Colo.

I also plan to visit my momma in Scottsbluff, Neb., a lot more.

I might even write a book on starting a business, or leadership, or maybe company culture.

Goodbye, Schopen Pest Solutions. Thank you for an incredible story.

Lessons learned

Pete Schopen

Pete Schopen

I learned many things during the sale process that I plan to share in more detail in an upcoming PMP issue, including:

  • The purchasing company wants your assets, not your debt. Purchasing new vehicles within a year of selling is a bad idea.
  • Hiring an informed and passionate broker is very important.
  • Having customer service agreements is beneficial.
  • Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.
  • Staying or leaving after the sale? Staying with the company can be a good transitional step for sellers and buyers.
  • It takes a lot of effort and many months to pull it all together; be prepared for a six- to-12-month process.
  • Get everything in writing.
  • Hire at least two different lawyers: One for managing your capital gains tax and another for the contract between you and the buyer.
  • Look into putting your money into a charitable trust fund. Not only will you postpone paying huge capital gains taxes, you also will receive charitable deductions.

The end of an era

From his debut “Start-Up Diaries” in January 2008 to his last regular column in December 2022, one constant in Pete Schopen’s monthly musings in PMP was an honest look at his finances and company statistics in the “Schopen’s Open Book” box. Check out the differences from his first column to his last, below.

January 2008

Schopen’s Open Book
Start-Up: Schopen Pest Solutions Inc.
Headquarters: McHenry, Ill.
Founded: April 11, 2006
Founder: Peter F. Schopen, Jr.
2006 Revenue: $66,550.50 (April 11-Dec. 31)
2007 Revenue Thru November: $158,773.33
Projected 2007 Revenue: $173,207.26
No. of Employees: 1
November 2007 Revenue: $14,024 + $8,861.33 (prepaid power spray sales)
November’s New Customers: 19
November’s Monthly Customers: 20 (+2)
November’s Bi-monthly Customers: 59 (-5)
November’s Quarterly Customers: 157 (+10)
November’s Semi-Annual Customers: 9 (0)
November’s Power Spray Customers: 0 (end of season until April 2008)

December 2022

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: 44 (all full-time)
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: $4,007,000

2022 vs. 2006: 41x

About the Author

Avatar photo

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

Leave A Comment

  1. Congratulations on your success!! What an exciting article to read when you’re still on the trenches. Thank you for sharing and thank you for the inspiration your story provides to other pest control owners/ professionals.

    My husband and our team are definitely interested in your training for leaders.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Sheri Facciolla