Bugsy’s is fueled by love, lightning-fast growth


February 21, 2024

Zach Bernstein and Kiki Uher

Zach Bernstein and Kiki Uher

Colpo di fulmine. The thunderbolt, as Italians call it. Love strikes someone like lightning — so powerfully and intensely, it cannot be denied.

My alma mater is Elmhurst University, near Chicago, Ill. My first day of freshman orientation, I was standing on the portico, chatting with my advisor and peers when I happened to look out into the grassy Quad area and saw an incredible beauty. She was young, blond, smiling and perfect! I sauntered my way over to where she was standing, but I chickened out at the last minute and scurried back to my group. But I did catch a glimpse of her name tag: TJ Grosch.

A few days later, I was goofing off in front of the campus library when I saw her approaching me as I hung out with my friends. I elbowed the guy closest to me and pointed, “I’m going to marry that girl.” He chuckled and said, “Yeah, right.”

When she got closer, I said, “Hi TJ! Can I walk you to class?” She hesitantly agreed and I walked her to class every day after that — until we married three years later.

My first “Start-Up Story” for 2024 is also a love story between the dynamic duo of Zach Bernstein and Kiki Uher.

Bernstein owns Bugsy’s Pest Solutions in Palm Beach, Fla. He and Uher started Bugsy’s Pest Solutions in November 2022. Before starting the company, they had a whirlwind courtship that began at a motorcycle rally.

“I came down from New York City to visit my sister in Florida,” Uher recalls about the meetup. The two lovebirds only spoke for about five minutes, but Bernstein got hit by colpo di fulmine.

“I started texting her while she was on the plane flying back to New York,” he reports.

After three months of dating, Uher and her cats moved in with Bernstein. They’ve been inseparable ever since. It wasn’t long before Bernstein confided in Uher that he wanted to start up a pest control company. Pest control isn’t new to the 30-year-old Marine. He worked for three other companies before deciding to strike out on his own. But he and Uher wanted to do some research first, so they went to a Paul Bello workshop in the fall of 2022.

Bello’s PJB Pest Management Workshop was the spark the couple needed to pull the pin and begin their entrepreneurial dream. Many attendees at the workshop, along with Bello, convinced them their dream company could come into existence.

On Nov. 10, 2022, the duo launched Bugsy’s Pest Solutions — naming the business after Bernstein’s motorcycle club nickname. They finished 2023 with nearly $400,000 in revenue and just one regret — that Bernstein’s father, Morton “Mickey” Bernstein, isn’t around to see his son’s success.

“My dad is my hero,” Bernstein explains. “He was forced into being a single parent and made me into the man that I am today.” Mickey Bernstein was also a successful businessman, having founded Euro Link Inc., a bus tourism company.

Bugsy's Pest SolutionsA few years ago, Mickey was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Bernstein became his father’s full-time caregiver until the latter’s death eight months later. He doesn’t think of it in terms of missed career opportunities; rather, his attitude remains that “my dad taught me that a man does whatever he has to, to take care of his family.”

Setting goals

Currently, Bugsy’s Pest Solutions provides several services, including termite, general pest, wildlife and mosquito control.

This year, Bernstein and Uher also are expanding into attic insulation and exclusion. Bernstein says his favorite pest control jobs involve rodent control and exclusion because of the detective work required.

Uher, who is no stranger to being in the field as a technician, recently gave birth to their first child, Mickey, named after
Bernstein’s father.

Their goal is to continue their quality service and have $1 million in sales and four technicians by the end of 2024. By the end of 2027, they want to have 10 techs and a nice shop.

“I love this industry because it has allowed me to flourish, despite not going to college,” Bernstein says. “I can be an entomologist and a businessman with training and experience.”

One thing’s for sure: Mickey Bernstein would be very proud of his son’s growing family and growing business.

S.W.O.T. Analysis: Bugsy’s Pest Solutions


  • Training
  • Experts at situational pest control
  • No fear adding on new services
  • Good work and life balance
  • Young and energetic


  • Sometimes shares too much info, talking potential clients out of services
  • Lack of managerial skills


  • Florida is a great market
  • Lots of mentors to teach them: Paul Bello, Michelle Gallo, Geff Gorman, David Poplin and Maria Sorrentino
  • Just beginning to perform insulation services


  • Lack of hiring experience
  • Unlicensed pest control operators in their area undercut market pricing

About the Author

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

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