How did the idea for your business come about?
From 1992- 2003 I was working for a small family owned pest control business. I moved up as far as I could and thought to myself – this was the best it was going to be for the rest of my life. I knew there was a better way to do pest control other than the way the company I worked for operated. I specifically remember thinking that if I failed at this new company I was still young enough to start over. So I took a 2nd mortgage out on my home, traded in my car for a bug truck, and started my company out of the basement of my house.
What was the turning point for your business? Was there a moment you knew you had something special?
It’s a two-part question for me. First – Bed bugs started to become more prevalent around 2005-2007, so I decided to go after the multi-family industry. Contracts started coming in and I was having difficulty managing all the detailed information to help solve the clients’ issues. Secondly – I was at a networking meeting and saw this guy’s software that did EXACTLY what I was looking for. I immediately asked him if we could sit down. I couldn’t sleep or eat for days until we wrote out how I wanted this new software to work. The rest is history……
What does it mean to you to be an entrepreneur and business owner?
Being a business owner is a huge responsibility. It’s my job to make sure the company is aligned with our vision & strategic plan, while planning for family succession of the business. Being an entrepreneur is the fun part. I’ve learned so many nuggets of information and met many people that have helped our company get to where it is today.
What does the city of Columbus mean to your business?
Being headquartered in Central Ohio logistically, makes it easier for us to service the entire state. We can be anywhere within 2 hours. Unfortunately, Columbus is ranked in the top 10 most infested Bed Bug cities in the USA. Cincinnati, Dayton, & Cleveland also rank in the top 10.
Are you from Columbus? If not, please explain what brought you to here and ultimately what made you stay.
My wife and I were raised in Westerville, Ohio, which is where our office is located.
What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to anyone wanting to start a business?
If you are going to jump in, be the first to do it – without hesitation.
What do you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before starting your business?
To know that there are other entrepreneurs out there that go through the same struggles. Most of them are willing to share their ideas with you, you just have to ask.
What’s the most challenging part of your business (i.e, what keeps you up at night)?
Assumptions and predictions. I play the “what if this happens” game quite a bit in my head. I spend 90% of my time preparing for the worst possible scenario and then build processes to help prevent it from happening.
Every business owner has a flaw. What’s yours?
I found this out the hard way. I took a leadership assessment test, and found out I wasn’t a good leader, even though I thought I was in my head. I have to work at it everyday. Thank god our Chief Operations Officer (my wife) is an excellent leader, and can execute my vision.
Why do you think most business owners fail? What has made you different?
They don’t implement any advice given from seasoned business owners. What’s made me different is the ability to out work those people.
What was you biggest mistake and what did it cost you?
I took a high interest rate loan out on a large piece of equipment over a 5 year period of time. Let’s just say the finance company won on that deal. I have 2 more monthly payments left……
What tool has helped you the most for your business (invoicing, accounting, shipping, plugin for website, etc.)?
The software we developed for property managers is the single biggest tool that gives us a clear competitive advantage over our marketplace.
When did you know it was time to expand your business, make your first hire, etc.?
From 2003-2010 we ran the company from the basement of my house. I remember being paranoid that my neighbors were going to turn me into the homeowners association. We had 8 employees at the time.
What is something that you did that was a game changer for your business?
At the end of 2016, I was recovering from a second round of cancer. I was pretty much working from home, and forgot that I signed up for this Mentorship Program put on by the Columbus Entrepreneur Organization. I went to my first meeting and the gentleman asked me what my vision was for my company. We spent the next few months figuring that out. Those were the hardest months of being an entrepreneur- figuring out my “why.”
What was an idea that you spent a lot of time on or thought would make a big difference in your business that didn’t pan out?
In 2008, I started a company called “Mold Solutions.” The idea was to take advantage of all the vacant homes that were in foreclosure due to the recession. Luckily, I made enough money back to break even. Lesson Learned: Don’t do something you are not great at.
What is something that your business spends a lot of money on that’s worth it?
Hiring a Chief Financial Officer. It was even sweeter because he came from one of our competitors.
What is something you’re working on now that you’re very excited about?
The Internet. I have always been fascinated with leads being generated on-line. So much has changed since 2003 when we first started. Currently, we are working on understanding the right formula for on-line advertisement, and how clients experience our web site.
What form of marketing is the most valuable for you?
The best form of marketing we’ve done is hire a professional! They did an in-depth study of what makes us unique and how to market our message to potential clients. Best money we’ve ever spent.
Who is your best Columbus resource (accountant, lawyer, marketer, etc.)? Please provide name and business name so we can give them credit!
Columbus Entrepreneur Organization and Conway Family Business Center. Within these two groups I have access to over 200 owners that are willing to share their experiences to help solve any problem I may have.
Where do you see your business in the next 10 years?
$6-8 million in revenue, 50-60 technicians, succession plan in place for our children, and beginning the process for retirement.
If you had to tell a visitor one thing to do/see/eat in Columbus, what would it be?
Get your beard shaved at Royal Rhino Club.