Travis Bottoms can pinpoint the day he had an epiphany about pest management. He was wearily following in his father’s law enforcement career footsteps when he realized the pest control technician who treated his house each month was “the happiest guy I knew.” That was a decade ago, and after working his way up to regional manager of several branches for a large company, he and longtime friend Erick Estrada decided to strike out on their own in 2020.
Based in Mesa, Ariz., Polite Pest Co. is founded on two major principles: make customers feel good about the materials and control methods being used in their homes to control pests, and have friendly, enthusiastic employees (thus living up to its name). Bottoms, now Polite Pest’s director of operations, attests the strategy remains in place today; the company has seen tremendous growth as a result. Despite being launched during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Polite Pest persevered and currently serves more than 2,400 accounts with a team of four people.
The Arizona native says his eyes were opened at his previous industry post when managing several branches in California. He notes that the old saying, “as California goes, so does the rest of the country,” applies.
“We had different product options there than we had in branches in the other states,” Bottoms recalls. “I decided we were going to use the California treatments as a model for Polite Pest. We want to stay the upstart, so we never have to rush into change after regulations inevitably get updated as a result of something California has done.”
Bottoms notes the company’s target market is women, ages 25 to 45. As a result, he ranks Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as the Top 3 platforms on which to build the Polite Pest brand. In addition to customer testimonials, the team strives to ensure factual information about lower-toxicity products is front and center.
“There is still a stigma out there that green products aren’t as effective,” he says. “With the various targeted, low-use and effective products we have available today, I feel like we as an industry are starting to come out of our ‘dinosaur age’ and moving into our ‘discovering fire and the wheel age.’ I like that more people are becoming open to the idea of using green products.”
Bottoms foresees the day when natural products are the norm, and that it’s coming sooner rather than later. “You know, you’re only laughed at until it works,” he says.
Company name: Polite Pest Co.
Headquarters: Mesa, Ariz.
Service ratio: 70% residential / 30% commercial
Year founded: 2020
Travis Bottoms advises: “We have a lot of social media posts that show our customers talking about how effective our treatments are, and how they like that we strive to use the least-toxic methods to get the job done. We let them do the talking for us, and build our reputation.”