My 5 Days With Billy The Exterminator

It’s always great for me to watch another professional in the craft I love work his or her magic. Their skill and expertise is one thing but what impresses me the most is the confidence they have in their ability to get the job done even if it has complex factors that would send any rookie running for the phone to call in for help. Recently I had a chance to spend an entire week with just such a confident technician and I actually learned quite a bit.

Billy Bretherton otherwise known as Billy The Exterminator is the man behind Vexcon, an exterminating company in Louisiana. He entered the bug world while in the Air Force and continued on with his studies through Purdue and LSU Universities and eventually became a Associate Certified Entomologist as well as achieving a Masters certification for termite control. His company was started in 1996 but Billy’s notoriety didn’t really come until he was chosen to be a feature story on the hit show Dirty Jobs. I remember this caused a little bit of a stir in the pest control community because of the way Billy and his technicians dressed. Instead of the sharp pressed uniform they wore shiny skull belt buckles with chains dangling freely and skull and crossbones shirts. Some even criticized his spraying techniques when he was hosing down some german roaches or jacking up a house that had severe termite damage. I ‘m sure he heard some of the critiques and that probably didn’t sit well for a guy who had worked so hard to come up through the ranks. (literally) There was even the comparisons between him and Mike Masterson, owner of Isotech and starPicture 74 300x234 My 5 Days With Billy The Exterminator of the mega hit series, “The Verminators.” Mike is the epitome of a stereotypical professional and the image that most bug guys preferred. I’m sure that had to hurt a little but in the end, Billy stuck to who he was and perhaps even went a little further with his now longer hair and spiked lapels and chrome tipped boots. This paid off for Vexcon and Billy as he too was awarded a show of his own on A&E known simply as “Billy The Exterminator” which is now also a big hit on the tube.

Now Billy didn’t know I was dropping by but he always welcomed me in each day I came. I’d show up every afternoon and ride along for about 3 hours in his nice Tundra truck while he got the calls for all sorts of different pest and critter problems. I was with him on his rat job of an animal rescue shelter where he bagged over 100 rats. The ladies there had no idea the problem was so bad and really were alarmed when they found out that most of their buildings electrical wiring was 1/2 chewed through by the rodents and the fire danger was huge. I remember the ladies screaming when he tracked down live rats in a plastic tub but how thankful they were when after the job was done he donated one years service to the shelter.

On the 3rd day Billy got the call for a snake in a tattoo parlor and I was right there with him. His brother Rick joined us for this one but since I was just a guest I simply watched. Rick is quite the guy as well and pretty brave, they both hunted that thing down and worked like a team to catch this 6 footer that would have sent anybody else running for the exits. They also paired up for a client who was infested with snakes to the point the kids couldn’t play in the back yard without fear of getting bitten. Prancing through the tall grass and debris left by recent storms they narrowed it down to a lone wood pile which they unceremoniously burned. Man did that drive out the biggest snake I’ve ever seen. A monster rattlesnake came out of that pile and he was mad. The two wrangled the beast for quite awhile until they got it in the bucket but I just watched and learned from my secure vantage point and was glad I didn’t have to do a thing but view the spectacle.

I learned a lot from my week with Billy, we went on so many jobs and saw some crazy things. There were lots of raccoon calls, spiders, snakes, opossums, rats, turkeys and even a bobcat. All handled with care and those that didn’t make it were buried with dignity by a saddened and humbled man. I don’t normally get into animal control and my views are more along the lines of ‘extermination’ but Billy tries to save every warm blooded pest he can. It was interesting as well to learn about some of his own concoctions which naturally took care of pests. Garlic sprays to repel snakes and an organic mixture which sapped the energy right out of the dreaded black widow and suggestions galore of how homeowners can avoid having these types of problems in the first place. I’m not much for the ‘green and organic’ movement but if more people would approach it in this manner I might be more inclined to listen.

There’s a lot more to Billy than meets the eye but if all you look at is his stainless steel apparel and narrow sunglasses you just might miss it. My first impressions were founded on the same Dirty Jobs episode you watched years ago and I must admit I thought his approach was Picture 92 199x300 My 5 Days With Billy The Exterminatornot one I would ever emulate. However, after my week with him one on one I’ve come to a whole different conclusion. His business is a lot like mine and thousands of others as he and his family strive to grow and make it in this highly competitive world.

Billy has that confidence that only a seasoned professional exudes and from here on out the skies the limit on where he and his company may go. While I’m sure not many pest companies will follow his exact business model you can never go wrong with being passionate about what you’re doing in the way you want to get it done. Billy has proven this and in his way blazed a trail that others may follow albeit in their own modified way. I’m just thankful I was able to take time away from my work for a week to observe this guy firsthand and uninterrupted. For 3 hours a day I saw a great technician do his job and then I headed down to the beach to enjoy the rest of my vacation but looked forward to tomorrows marathon episodes of Billy The Exterminator on TV.

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About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    He should– I’d get a good commission check based on how many people have asked me.

    Thanks for reading
    The Bug Doctor

  • Bnolan426

    omg i love billy the exterminator

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    So many do- what is it most about him you like and have you ever watched the Verminators show?

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    So many do- what is it most about him you like and have you ever watched the Verminators show?

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    So many do- what is it most about him you like and have you ever watched the Verminators show?

  • Magic11221959

    OMG I LOVE RICKY (BILLY’S BROTHER

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Were you part of the ‘audition’ for a date that his Mom had for him? They were lining up around the corner for that guy.

    Thanks for reading
    The Bug Doctor

  • Skatko

    I love this guy. Smart and compassionate. Very good at what he does. Ricky is cool too, but Billy is the best

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    He’s got a lot of fans, including the critters he saves and relocates.

    Thanks for reading

    The Bug Doctor

  • Singingmomma

    Billy is the best! Highly knowledgable, protects the environment, and protects the critters that he traps by giving them a new home.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Thanks for your comment Singingmomma,

    That seems to be an appealing theme, I’m curious though. Would you allow him into your home or another company that had a similar appearance?

  • Sassyannie54

    I LOVE Billy and everybody else on the show. He’s polite, compassionate and gentle albeit gets down to business and gets the job done. His outside personna is a testament to the fact that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Can’t wait for more episodes!

  • Sassyannie54

    I hope they were lined up because they genuinly liked him rather than for the show. In other words would they like him if he didn’t have a TV show. But it must be really good for his ego and most of us could use a bit of that.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Excellent sentiment, we need a bit more of that in life.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Genuine is always best but guy’s need like their egos boosted–trust me ;)

    Thanks again for your comments

  • singingmomma

    Yes, I would. I[m used to all sorts of characters and as long as Billy does the outstanding job he does, I’d be happy.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Very Good, I’m sure Billy would be happy to know he has loyal fans like you.

  • samantha

    you rock billy

  • samanta

    do u have atatto billy

  • EFG-Guy

    How about some grammer? That whole first paragraph was a giant run on sentence.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Thanks for your critique EFG,

    Did you realize you spelled ‘grammar’ wrong?

    Thanks for reading my blog ;)

  • http://twitter.com/janance Jonas Andrew Nance

    I like, yes, but it was funeral parlor, rather than a tattoo parlor, however the terms, often exchangeable and in this case the snake could have explained the relativity. The timber rattler could have tattooed Billy; cut out the middle man (HOSPITAL) and the funeral parlor would have had an one episode worth viewing. Puns flowing, Billy chased some tail of gator then went beaver hunting. He forgot her anniversary? What does she do? Goes on a cockroach adventure-cajun silver anniversary- Billy’s a hoot.

  • http://twitter.com/janance Jonas Andrew Nance

    Yes, it is called AP style writing. Today’s paper, snake one off the neighbors driveway, and read an article…

    Each PP (paragraph) is one long sentence. Keep it short, keep it alive, and grammar? Perfect grammar, hybrid AP-MLS style, the internet has room for length a DAILY PAPER just can’t provide. The article fits perfectly into the page, pictures and all. No worries, Doc.

  • http://twitter.com/janance Jonas Andrew Nance

    Oddly, I have a brown recluse in a small make-up thingy chicks use for stuff on there face, I suppose. Its in rubbing alcohol bc I didn’t have conventional mouth wash, as recommended. The mouth wash is highly scientific today. I can tell by the confusing label. and white bottle. Anyway, do you want the spider?

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    I don’t have a need for a brown recluse at this time but I do appreciate the offer.

  • Anonymous

    Great article.

    As someone who has been seriously considering starting a pest management company I really enjoy the show, and what I have read about Vexcon. I have often wondered if I could contact them to see them in action for a day.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    I don’t know, but if you do–give me a call, I’d like to see it too.

    Thanks for reading

  • Anonymous

    Huh? Did I misread your article?

    I meant having read about you having the chance to see Billy in “action” out in the field is encouraging. Because I have often wondering about calling his office to see about scheduling a “ride-along”… one PMP to another.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    I guess I’m a better bug man than writer Jason– lol

    I set that up as an illusion but at the end I reveal that it was just me in my hotel room while on vacation watching a Billy marathon on TV. But hey that is a great idea if you could get them to say yes. I never thought of it.

  • Anonymous

    Ah… having re-read the article I know see that. Ha! Well, I would say that your a pretty good writer… you pulled me in. If I ever manage to get something like that set up I’ll be sure to let you know.

    BTW last year I wrote a blog entry about Billy relating to something in a PCT magazine about him. Here’s the link in case your interested.
    http://www.ecksermonator.com/?p=228

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Hey Jason, you too are a pretty good writer- your thoughts on the matter were well put. It took me a while to follow the links to the letter to editor (then I saw you had it at the bottom-duh) I think the man has a thing for outward appearance as you say. Is he the same guy who wrote such a long rebuttal on your blog post that you linked here?

    Anyway I thought your article was very good and you’ve actually inspired me to write something that’s been on my mind for a while. Hope you check it out.

  • Anonymous

    Yes indeed the guy who wrote the long rebuttal is the same guy you wrote the original letter. I tracked down the his email and emailed him the link to the post so that he could respond if he wished…obviously he did. I dialogued with him through email a few times. Seemed like a nice guy.

    Anyways, glad I inspired you. I’ll definitely check out what’s to come.

  • Pingback: Is Billy The Exterminators Image Bad For Pest Control?

  • Tyson

    Too many people start taking him seriously we all might be in a world of trouble. “Yes, maam, your german roaches are gone with one visit.” Sometimes great character also cause a great deal of problems for the professionals.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    It’s amazing how many of my customers mention Billy but few think (or want I bet) me to do the service the way he does. They are all curious however about his eugenol oil…. usually not so much when I give them the downside. http://pestcemetery.com/darker-side-eugenol-oil/

  • Joanngonz

    when will Billy the exterminator come back on tv?

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    I don’t know – check A & E’s web site and put Billy in the search bar. I’m pretty sure you’ll find the schedule.

  • Sef11

    Saw it advertised about a month ago on A&E, it would start back some time this month. Just can’t remember what date, but I seem to remember them sating it would be on a Tuesday.

  • Sef11

    Saw it advertised about a month ago on A&E, it would start back some time this month. Just can’t remember what date, but I seem to remember them sating it would be on a Tuesday.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Thanks Sef11,

    I hadn’t seen any advertisements come to think of it.

  • blondi

    Not really sure who wrote this article, but if you are going to be continuing to write, you may want to consider a basic grammar class. 
    How can you post an article such as this?  Do you not have MS Word with grammar and spell check?  Yikes!

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Thanks blondi for your critique. Much like your grammar police partner EFG-Guy (commented below) you’re always welcome on my site. If you think this article is bad however you should take a look around the rest of the site…. You’d be amazed at my lack of intelligence. In fact, just so I don’t make a mistake let me partially quote you so YOUR EXACT WORDS might just might make me sound like I know what I’m doing.

     “if you are going to be continuing to”      read my articles, you may want to comment more often, you sound very authoritative and your contribution is appreciated.

  • Taylor

    It’s funny, I’ve never seen an episode of Billy the Exterminator, somehow I his facebook page ended up on my wall.  So I googled him.  For the most part, people have nothing but good to say about him,  so I’ll have to check his show out.  Thanks for the intriguing article.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    It may be a new advertising gimic…lol

    I’ll bet you’ll at least get a kick out of it.

  • Mel

    Jerry,

    I previously described the benefits of having Billy the exterminator on television educating the public about pests. This week, for the first time I had someone specifically mention Billy the exterminator and what he would do. What was not in the equation nor did she want to understand is how much does/would Billy or any other firm charge to trap, exclude, clean up rodent droppings on a 1911 home three story house. Currently Roof rats in three attics, Previous Norway rat activity in the crawl and possums burrowing under a concrete slab.  How about an article with estimated  pricing of  his jobs to inform the public about the costs of doing such jobs?

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    I have often thought of an article on pricing because I have an opinion (imagine that) that some of the pest control prices are really out of whack expensive wise while others go so ridiculously low. But to do one on these services might be out of my base of knowledge since I really don’t offer any of this on a consistent basis. I can say from what you describe I wouldn’t be at all shocked that the entire process would be over $5,000 and I’m pretty sure that would be fair– I’m basing this on some of the episodes I’ve seen of not only his show and the clean up but the Verminators as well.

    It is amazing to me that the consumer who sees this on TV is convinced that the “real life process” is only a 1/2 hour just like the show and so really it shouldn’t be a surprise that the price put on that 30 minutes (in their minds) wouldn’t be very much.

    Great thought provoking comment

  • Randy

    When chiding someone about their grammar, make sure the grammar you use is correct. 

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Thanks Randy,

    I might expect (and probably deserve) critiques if this were on a dissertation on the unknown effects of inert ingredients to the environment but….. dag gum, this is about Billy The Exterminator! I don’t think he’d even mind a grammatical error here or there. ;)

    Pest Control ROCKS!

  • Stephan

    I am a huge fan of Billy’s show. I own a pest control business in Virginia and even though I don’t dress like Billy, I admire his knowledge and how good he is with his customers.  Keep up the good work and I fully support the show.

    Stephan from Virginia

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Excellent comment Stephan,

    It’s nice to hear when one pro can appreciate another.