Paperclips, pest control and root canals

It’s amazing to me the amount of sophisticated equipment we now have in the pest control industry. We use moisture meters, foam machines, injection tips for any angle or application and the list goes on and on. Even some of the ‘simple’ things that make any professional so much more efficient that for years we never had. 25 years ago I received the first System III in our region but oddly enough it came with no belt. I’d get weird looks from passers by as I unbuckled my pants belt as if I was undressing in the parking lot just so I could strap it to my hip through the closed loop. Dusters were carried by clutching the metal injection tube and B&G handle with the same hand, flashlights protruded out of our back pockets while rat bait was jammed in our fronts. In those times an exterminator needed to be a MacGuyver of sorts and using home made gadgets or an old pizza box with a gallon bucket of glue for glue boards was not uncommon.

I guess some of this innovation still lives on today because I constantly see exterminators walking into an account with just a B&G and maybe a mini mag light strapped to their belt right next to their touch screen smart phone. They go into the home and come out a few short minutes later and begin to treat the exterior with the same hand held sprayer as they whisk around the windows and flip a small stream up around the soffit’s and with there heads bent over to pin their phone against their shoulders they quickly make their way around. Back in the truck with the fancy designer wrap and it’s off to another account.

I started thinking about this the other day when I heard a news story on the radio about a dentist who used paper clips for root canals and now was in a heap of trouble. Apparently there’s some sort of post you need with the procedure and it’s suppose to be an expensive piece of stainless steel but this guy apparently wanted to save a few bucks so he substituted the right material for a 2 cent office paper clip. About that time I also got a comment on my article Pest control is a complaint business and my immediate thoughts were of a small company I purchased and the ‘paper clips‘ they used everyday in normal operations.

When I agreed to look at the company I wanted to ride with their tech for a day and just see how things were done. It seemed I couldn’t drive fast enough to even catch up to him just to meet as each customer would say “Oh you just missed him, he has a big day so he had to hurry.” After a while I gave up chasing and decided to just ask the clients about the service and see what they said. It was sort of an undercover thing as I didn’t want to spook anyone and I just told them he was hiring me and I needed to learn the ropes. I was amazed that they LOVED this guy and in their eyes he could do no wrong. Some of them said how he treated the crawl space or the yard and how he never gave up until the pests were gone. “He’s such a nice guy” they’d say with a smile, “he had to load his sprayer over 15 times just to treat my yard for fleas.” WHAT! I went home that night and told my wife this may not be the deal for us but I really wanted to see this guy in action. How small was his rig for the yards and why didn’t he just power dust that crawl?

The next day with his schedule in hand I showed up 30 minutes early to his first stop in my personal vehicle and sure enough he came speeding up the street right on time. I think I caught him by surprise but you’d have never known it. Within a minute I realized why everyone liked him so much because he truly was the nicest young man. The people were so glad to see him and welcomed him inside like he was a long lost relative. They were also so very glad that I was his helper because they just knew he was working too hard and needed the help. He had nothing but a B&G and moved swiftly through the home and all the time telling them about this great chemical he was using and how well it worked and how expensive it was. “Those ants will never know their dying till it’s to late and the queen gets her share too.” he exclaimed as he flew through the kitchen. This was a 6 month service and the fee was right around $200 but I’d bet you he only spent 10 minutes inside. Outside I offered to help but thought I’d better not grab my back pack as the old saying goes-‘when in Rome do as the Romans do.’ I pulled my B&G out from my vehicle and he just gave me the strangest look. “Gosh, that’s fancy,” he exclaimed looking at my sprayer that had a velcro tool wrap filled with baits, small screwdrivers and such and a tiny clip on light. “How long you been doing this?” he uttered and for the first time he didn’t sound so confident or full of vigor. We treated the outside (in about 3 minutes) and I asked to take a minute and just talk by his truck. I noticed he had no rig, no other sprayers and only a few cans of aerosol and a 1/2 bag of Max Force ant stations in his small tool tainer. I guess you get the idea and I won’t belabor the point and as I followed him the rest of the day I truly liked him and he really was a very nice person. He said he would love some good equipment but his parents owned the business and this is just how they had done it for years.

Now there’s nothing wrong per se with using a handheld sprayer for exterior service or for ants and fleas. I did think spraying a yard with the thing was a bit much and he hated crawling under a house with it too. It seems funny to me that some as pest control operators who want to be taken seriously continue to use the bare minimum or worse yet use tools for things they aren’t meant for. Believe me I know how expensive things are and I don’t like spending $180 bucks just for a B&G wand just so I can loose that cheap plastic spray tip that comes with my $300 Birchmeyer back pack. Or when you walk out of the distributors warehouse with a shoe box sized order than set you back a few hundred either. It just seems to me that to be better than the Do It Yourself crowd or the rouge operators with a spray can rolling around the bed of their trucks, this is what you have to do. Why not with all the advancements and new equipment out there wouldn’t you want to use the tools that were made for the job and set you apart from all the rest? I’m all about old school in many ways but gone are the days when you apply baits with a butter knife or cut up hundreds of straws for a pharaoh ant job. If the only upgrade you have is turning your tip from pin stream to fan spray then perhaps it’s time you invested in you. Time to put away the paper clips and shine, just like stainless steel.

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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