The business: All County Pest Control
Number of generations in business: 2
Number of family members now working: 1
Owner: Ed Binns, president/owner
How it got started: When it comes to ticks, carpenter ants, deer, and other destructive creatures small and large, most people get squeamish. For Ed Binns, these pests are his bread and butter. Encouraged by his father and former owner, William, Binns joined the home pest-control business, which was once known as Modern Home Equipment (it also sold billiards tables), in 1988, took over in 1993, and never looked back.
“I always thought about going in,” Binns says. “It seemed like a good thing to do, having worked there in summers.” Binns studied computer science and business administration in college, and and welcomed the opportunity to combine those skills with “working with my hands and often being outdoors.” He did what the most successful family businesses do to survive: He changed the business to fit the economy, the industry direction, and his own special vision. In addition to renaming it, he expanded marketing with more print and online content to attract higher-end residential clients and added three part-time and four full-time employees. Binns understands changing times, changing needs, and changing regulations, so all service technicians are certified, and in new areas, such as nuisance wildlife control. Training is crucial, he says, noting that government regulations are strict and complicated when it comes to which chemicals and procedures can and can’t be used. He also believes that modern customers are more savvy — and also more demanding. “Their tolerance is very low when it comes to pests in their homes,” Binns says, and the competition for business is strong, especially “from larger national companies, which makes it harder for smaller companies like ours to afford our overhead and make a living,” he says.
Why it’s succeeded: “We keep our nose down and fight hard, go to regional conventions to learn about all the new state products, what pests are most prevalent, the best procedures to eliminate them, and the most competitive pricing,” he says.
Biggest advantage: Many larger competitors demand “crazy contracts,” he says. All County Pest Control charges an average homeowner $600, which includes four visits a year and covers many basic pests, but not all. The company also offers customized plans.
Biggest problem pests: Ticks, carpenter ants, wasps, deer
Another generation: Binns has a son in high school and a daughter in college; both work at the company periodically. “It’s tough to say what each will do long-term,” Dad says.
A prior generation: His father, 86, retired in 1993.
Lessons learned: “Take time off and never work Sundays.”
Wish list: The industry needs to raise the bar and make it harder for personnel to get licensed. “It still doesn’t require a permit which I think it should.”