I’ll admit it’s not the most dramatic story you’ll ever read compared to some out there but it has certainly been a wild ride. In this article I won’t go into great depth of each situation but the links I’ll provide can and will easily give you all the background and details you might like to peruse for the complete picture.
The reason for this article is not to vaunt myself up as some unique operator who surpassed all odds or scored a victory with everything he touched. As you’ll see, I failed miserably at times, and at some moments, I hit pretty close to rock bottom. It is however, I hope, for those looking to start their own pest control business, an honest look at 33 plus years of a road well traveled. This road was most certainly blazed by many before me-(I didn’t carve it out) and yet while on this path I have been passed up by ROCK STARS who soared to great heights and I watched enviously as their taillights got further and further ahead. But I’ve also moved down this road fairly well and gotten pretty far, had some great moments of my own.I too have passed many on this road, many wrecks, broken down businesses and those who are running on fumes. This article is for them as well. My aim is to hopefully provide perhaps a bit of aid, a little gas in the tank if you will. As I look around the industry I see so very little help for those folks and that is to our shame. Should it inspire just one to move ahead despite the odds and the road blocks ahead… it will have hit its mark.
1984 was quite the year of transition for me. I went from dog house builder to short order prep cook to full fledged pest control route technician. Honestly I think I’d still be at that little hardware store fixing screens and building dog houses if not for an unscrupulous vendor who lifted $1000 dollars worth of phones off my delivery truck. I was inches away from being fired but I took the opportunity to walk because I was already considering a prep cook position offered to me at $2 an hour more in pay.
So the next day my prep cook career began with a bang but it sure didn’t last long. It was spring time in a kitchen with no a/c and even with the doors wide open and the cool breeze it was an ungodly heat. I hated that job so much and wanted to quit on many occasions, sweating like a pig and the relentless line of people waiting to place their order that went out the door and was a full city block long all day every day, but I had nowhere else to go and still get that kind of money. The hot summer was almost in full swing and the suffocating swelter of that tiny kitchen was really getting to me and I so wanted to leave that job when one evening out of the blue I received a call from a friend. He asked if I’d ever consider taking a job with Terminix as a pest control technician. I had never heard of Terminix and new very little about what exterminators did but I listened intently. The job didn’t pay as well but the thought of getting some fresh air during the day and the fact I could take a truck to and from work factored in, I decided to apply.
It might have been the bright lights of the office or the whirring of the fancy IBM computers that looked like a distant cousin to the Star Wars robot R2D2, or the happy purpose filled men and women going back and forth in their pressed white shirts and green ties, I don’t know. Whatever it was was a thousand miles away and ahead of that greasy sweltering kitchen from hell and I wanted in. Twenty minutes later after a short interview, my pest control career started.
October 1st, 1984 my initial pest control training of 3 months came to an end and the time was finally here for me to take the truck, my truck, out for my first full day on my route alone, it was a 14 hour day. In fact, most of the next month, month and a half was 12 to 14 hour days one after another non stop as I tried to put this shambled mess of a territory into some sort of workable route. I guess I shoulda hated it, unhappy people stuck in a one year contract not shy about voicing their disappointment, endless phone calls (unpaid time at night) and figuring out just how to take this scrambled puzzle and make it all work. It was a nightmare and I often thought about going back to the deli…..NOT!!!!! I loved every minute of it!!! Sure I got the brunt of a lot of what was meant for the guy who destroyed this route before me, however, I almost immediately began getting rewards. Not money because you didn’t get paid for complaint services, but a few atta boys here and there, sighs of relief when I showed up instead of that ‘crazy red head’ and votes of confidence once the customer gave me a chance (and most did since they were contract bound for a year). It was a real sense of accomplishment to rid someone of roaches or rats. It was a daily adventure full of surprises and seeing things I couldn’t even imagine- some I wished I hadn’t. Although I was still technically a rookie, I grew up fairly quickly in the first few short months as a pest control technician. Each day was an accomplishment, a victory where before was only defeat and frustration. It was somewhere in this time period, I was hooked on pest control for life. To be continued…click here