Article by Eric Slack
April 19th, 2012
Pest control companies make their names based on their ability to eliminate problems. Based on the longevity of Troy, Mich.-based Rose Pest Solutions, the company long ago established its ability to take down a great many pest problems.
Rose Pest Solutions is a pest management company with 152 years of history. Its roots reach back to the nation’s oldest pest management company, Rose Exterminator Co., which was known as Rose Rat Exterminator Co. when it was founded in 1860.
Operating in the Great Lakes region, the company has a commitment to quality at all levels, from the service technicians in the field to the people assessing client issues and creating customized programs. The company has 13 service centers and offices in three states, employing about 255 people and serving parts of six states.
“Everyone that touches the client is focused on service,” President Russ Ives says. “We believe strongly in technical competence and continuing skill development, which gives us a competitive advantage because of what we deliver in the field.”
The company is capable of dealing with any kind of pest control problem. Rose’s roots are in commercial pest management, and about 75 percent of its business serves that market. Commercial clients often have a much more pressing need for Rose’s services. On the residential side, pest control services can sometimes be a discretionary service. Specialty services include fumigation and bed bug programs.
Part of Rose Pest Solutions’ success stems from understanding the right approach to use in its markets. The commercial market is much more direct sales-intensive. Many commercial enterprises already have some kind of pest management program, which means the market is saturated with pest control companies.
“We can help clients understand the difference we can provide, but that takes a direct sales effort and development of relationships and credibility,” Ives says.
The residential market isn’t as saturated. The weather is colder in the region, and fewer residents have universal or severe needs than in other parts of the country. Residential business is driven when prospects find a problem and look into acquiring services from a company like Rose.
“We have to generate market familiarity through various media and PR efforts,” Ives says. “We don’t have as much money to throw at major advertising campaigns as national competitors, but we do advertise. Referrals and word-of-mouth can help, too.”
Most of the company’s resources remain close to the client level. Rose technicians are trained and certified, often beyond state requirements. Developing expertise at the field level helps with evaluations of client issues. Local supervisors and district managers also support technicians. In addition, the company employs several board-certified entomologists, who oversee continuous training of technicians, support field quality efforts, and conduct in-house training for commercial, industrial and institutional businesses as part of its pest management programs.
Rose also takes the unusual step of closing down the entire company for two-and-a-half days every year. Rose uses that time to hold a company-wide conference to ensure that all employees have enough knowledge to properly serve the client.
At the corporate level, the company has centralized some of its specialized services and quality department. The reasoning behind centralizing special service areas, such as fumigation and bed bug technology, is because they require special skills to be effective and safe.
STRIVING FOR MORE
Rose Pest Solutions has invested heavily in an emerging part of industry in the past four years. The company is literally taking the bite out of bed bugs, which have become a much bigger issue in recent years in the hospitality industry.
“Old techniques may have been effective, but they are highly chemical-dependent,” Ives says. “The use of some of those pesticides is often no longer available or appropriate. We’ve put a lot of effort in last two years into working with new heat technologies to deal with those problems.”
That is why the company invested in equipment that can help heat an area to a particular temperature or for a significant amount of time. Rose has heat units on trailers that can be mobilized and sent to any given site.
The company also established three canine detection teams. Equipped with trained handlers, these teams include dogs that detect scents that determine whether live bed bugs are present.
“That is a faster and more reliable method than human inspection,” Ives says. “Overall, these are still relatively new for us and [it] requires new training. The bed bug part of our business has become 10 percent of our overall business.”
Rose Pest Solutions is happy to continue to serve the Great Lakes region. The company doesn’t have any specific geographic growth aspirations; instead, it sees a great deal of untapped potential in the markets it currently serves. One of its newer ventures provides technical field staff with specific training and skill development that will better equip them to help with business development. Ives knows it will help Rose essentially expand its sales staff by empowering people in the field to get engaged in business development.
“We want to be more than good technicians in the field,” he says. “We don’t want to compromise our service capabilities and quality, but we also want to develop our people so they can be ambassadors for us to prospects in the neighborhoods they serve.
“We’ve had two consecutive good years at a time that has been tough for many other industries,” Ives continues. “We’ve been successfully swimming upstream, and we look forward to the region’s economic turnaround to help catapult us toward more growth. Better outreach will help us demonstrate how we can meet the area’s needs. Our theme for this year is ‘dare to be great,’ and that ties in to what we are doing to help our people to expand their horizons.”
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