A little over 2 decades ago, a young fella and his bride decided that they would spray their way into financial independence while serving the citizens of Kenosha, WI.  Brent and Judith Towle celebrate 22 years of business this month, and we’re proud to be able to announce Spectrum Pest Control as the February 2016 “Pest Pro of the Month”.

Like many in the USPMPA, Brent started his pest career with a national company. A consistent top salesperson in his branch, Brent loved the ability to solve his customers’ pest problems, while also continuing to learn. At the same time, Towle wanted what we all desire: the elusive “work-life balance”, the ability to raise a family AND have the ability to spend time with them, and also be his own boss while still serving the public.

The Towles jokingly refer to Feb. 1, 1994 as their “Independence Day”, and they jumped in with both feet. They started by advertising in the phone book, and relied heavily on word-of-mouth marketing, referrals and Brent’s participation in the Rotary Club. The business is lean: Brent designed and built their website, kenoshapest.com, and is owner-operator while Judith is owner-office manager. Initally Towle found himself tempted to follow what was a very aggressive strategy. Doing so required longer hours in the business, however, leading up to what he describes as a “pivotal conversation” with Judith. Staying true to their desire to have a work-life balance, the Towles agreed to pace themselves to live comfortably while still steadily growing into a 6-figure gross revenue. A minimal marketing budget has worked for Spectrum: while 2008 and 2009 were a depression, Towle has reported growth every year since and projects growth again in 2016.

USPMPA: If you could go back, what would you tell yourself?
BT: I’d say two things to myself:

  1. Don’t focus on fast growth. This was an issue for us at first. For those thinking about starting a pest business, I’d encourage them to save up enough money to survive while they focused on quality and establishing the business for the first year. Of course, that’s not always possible…
  2. Know your strengths, and know your weaknesses. You need to recognize if you are a technical person, or are you a BOSS? Be realistic and honest with yourself. If your background has been as a technician, consider taking evening classes on management and business in order to be successful. I see a lot of guys that start a business but don’t know how to run the business, and then they are gone in a few years.

USPMPA: What is your favorite pest to treat, and why?
BT: I really enjoy and even look forward to carpenter ants! I feel like I’m best known in my market for my success at treating carpenter ants. I really enjoy the troubleshooting and the challenge of eliminating a colony that may have satellites that a new customer has been dealing with for years before they called me.

USPMPA: Ok, and how about your least favorite?
BT: Bed bugs! (laughs) I like the money that comes with the treatments, but there is an elevated amount of chemicals applied, more so than with other pests…plus the risk of bringing them home. That’s the last thing I want!

USPMPA: What is one of your most memorable achievements? 
BT: A few years ago I was hired to deal with a massive flock of about 100,000 starlings. I was the the first documented operator to successfully – and permanently – remove an established winter roost of starlings using lasers! It took 3 seasons for me to deal with them, using lasers in 40-minute sessions. I actually got the job because everyone else said it was too big a job for them. I had even said that at first, and the factory owner called me back when he couldn’t find anyone to take the job! (laughs) I think that’s how I got the nickname “MacGyver of pest control”.

USPMPA: (laughs) I just saw one of your inventions…the plunger… 
BT: (laughing) I have a big foaming job coming up and needed to be sure that the foam would get past the P-trap, so I made this..MacGyvered it!

Brent and Judith have built a solid business, and his commitment to his community has paid off handsomely. Spectrum Pest has customers still on service that started 22 years ago. The Towles give back as well: Spectrum donates 5% of gross receipts to local charities. Those who have interacted with Brent on US Pest Management Professionals Association or other groups know what a nice guy he is, always glad to offer advice to others.

Please join us in congratulating Brent and Judith on the remarkable milestone of 22 years in business, and for being the Pest Pro of the Month!Spectrum

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