Well, we made the 20 years in business mark this month. Over the years, my wife and I have learned a lot about owning and running our own business. After putting in 11 years of hard work as another company’s lead technician and sole pest inspector, my wife and I decided to take a leap of faith and start our own business. With her business background, and work experience, we knew we would make a great team and make an equally successful run at it. I thought I’d share some of the trials and tribulations of our “journey”.
We purchased a brand new truck, along with all of the necessary equipment and products it would take to be successful. We set up a home office with everything we needed. We put together our business plan, set up all of our forms, aligned all of our legal paperwork, and created our infrastructure.
We were now officially in business as LIND PEST CONTROL & INSPECTION SERVICES, INC. It didn’t take too long for the phone to start ringing. My wife was still working her full time job (we planned for her to continue this for the first year). I would field the calls and go out to the properties to perform pest control services. She would come home and type up any pest inspection reports that I had performed that day. This continued for approximately 1 year before we realized we were too busy for her to “hang on” to her full time position. It was then that we made our next big decision.
We were now both under the employ of LIND PEST CONTROL & INSPECTION SERVICES, INC. This was a huge step seeing we were now in the sole responsible position of fending for ourselves, for everything. All of our bills, health insurance, everything we owned etc!!! Although it was a huge decision, and one we stressed over prior to making it and a bit of time thereafter, it didn’t take long for us to realize that, once again, we had made the correct decision. We were off to a pretty steady start. That is until 9/11. Yes that infamous date affected all of us. Needless to say, pest control was the last thing on folks minds during the next few weeks. We made our way through it though and managed to stay afloat.
We took some time out to go to a crab feed they had annually at Bellarmine Prep school. We all were able to take our minds off of the tragic event and managed to have a real fun time. The really fun part to that story is that my wife, Beth and I hadn’t taken a vacation since our honeymoon and didn’t see it in the cards (money-wise) to take another one for quite some time. Well, they had a raffle at the crab feed, and first prize was an all-expense paid trip to Miami (or anywhere else) to see a Washington Husky football game.
You may have guessed this, but they called my name out for the grand prize!!! We ended up going to Tempe Arizona where we stayed at the Mission palms on Mill Ave. It was close enough to the stadium to walk and close to dozens of primo restaurants and watering holes. We had a fabulous time and were so thankful for this stroke of luck that seemed to generate even more fire, ambition, and motivation to inject into our company.
We built business and clients every day. Word was out that LIND PEST CONTROL & INSPECTION SERVICES, INC. were the ones to call for the best service in the industry. It was time for our next step. We needed to move out of our home office and find a commercial spot for our business. We couldn’t afford a big fancy place, but we needed to open up a public office that folks could see and come to if needed. After much deliberation we decided to open up an office space on 6th avenue, near Pine street, in Tacoma.
It was a modest space with an open floor plan where we could set up 4 desks. It had 1 bathroom and was connected to an insurance agency next door and apartments above. We stayed in this office for about 18 months until the water heater upstairs burst and ruined a bunch of our papers and made a real mess. We would move to a larger office space next. On the corner of 6th avenue and Madison, a house came up for lease. It was zoned commercial and had a big open space for our desks. There was a back sunroom area, that would become my office, and a front enclosed area that would become our technicians space. It also had a detached garage that could house 2 trucks.
We were getting busy!!! During our time at the 6th and Pine street location, we decided to hire an employee. Of course, this meant we would need to purchase another new truck along with all of the equipment. Thomas was going to be our first employee. We hired him as a technician and I trained him to become the best technician he could be. After a while, we discovered that with 2 technicians (Thomas and me) there was twice as much paperwork/office work. This is when we decided to hire our second employee (Joanne) as an office assistant.
We were moving right along now and our business was really growing. So much so, that now we decided to hire another technician. Another new truck and equipment. Steven was going to be our next employee. When he showed up, on his first day, we were in the midst of moving out of the 6th & pine street office to the 6th and Madison place due to the water heater fiasco.
We later realized, jokingly, what this must have looked like to Steven, but he quickly realized the top notch organization that he had signed up for. Steven went on to work for us for ten years and was, to this date, the best employee we ever had (and we’ve had a lot of good ones). He needed a lot of training, as he was young and inexperienced. What he lacked in experience, he made up for with his attitude and perseverance. Of course, we now needed another office person. Enter Carissa. We were officially on our way to serious growth.
Some of our employees came and went. This was one of the aspects of running a business we never considered. Beth and I had always been employees who were loyal and dependable. We did our job to the fullest and we worked to improve ourselves and our position for the companies we had worked for. We tended to stay with our positions for long periods of time. Neither of us considered how hard it would be to find those qualities in folks we wanted working for us. Furthermore, how difficult it can be to hang on to them for a decent stretch of time. Regardless, we worked hard to hire, train, and employee quality employees.
One day, as I was driving back to the office, I saw a “for sale” sign on a nice little craftsman style home on 6th and Monroe (by Stevens street). After talking it over with Beth, and doing a little research to make sure it was a commercially zoned property, we were ready for our next commitment. We loved our 6th avenue locations and familiarity, over the years, and being a part of the 6th avenue business district. So we put an offer on it. Our offer was accepted, and we reside in this place today. We fixed it up inside and out and put a new landscape down. Eventually, we constructed a new building on the back of the property for more office space, a conference room, and a shop.
WOULD WE DO IT AGAIN?
There are so many pros to owning your own business. But there are many cons as well. We have taken so many risks that could have easily gone the other way and left us high and dry. We are constantly responsible for us, our employees, and our customers. Vacations are affordable now, but it is difficult to take them with all of the responsibilities we have. We are on the clock 24/7. Employees are a constant concern and sometimes a battle. Expenses on everything have gone so sky-high, it is difficult to maintain a balance of profit and loss without pricing yourself out of business with the customer. In addition, employment laws don’t tend to favor small businesses too much these days.
After taking this all into consideration, I would still answer yes. I’d do it again. We’re proud of the business we’ve grown and the name and identity we’ve given it over the past 20 years. We have seen our employees buy their first nice car, get their first apartment, buy their first house, etc. We’ve had the satisfaction of teaching folks how to work in a professional environment while training them on new skills they did not have prior. We are able to do the kind of work that is rewarding to us.
We have helped tens of thousands of folks with their pest problems, given a lot of money to various charities, met hundreds of business connections and friends, worked on various projects within our community – all while building a business and reputation, with our name on it, as part of the history of our town. And yes, we’ve carved out a pretty good living for ourselves, through constant hard work and dedication to our goal of providing the best pest control service in the industry. It’s been an amazing 20 years.