Under Control

Viking Pest Control

This simple concept came out of his own negative experiences dealing with other contractors. He would call three and hope that two showed up; he would then get a quote from one. He knew that by simply showing up they could have garnered some business. He now makes sure his employees show up when they promise to and, simply, offer the best service available. To this day, Viking Pest Control takes pride in being available and accessible to its clients.

Viking Pest Control has now grown to become the largest privately owned pest control company in New Jersey. “We are very comfortable with risk, and are not afraid to do different things in order to grow,” explains Ryan Bradbury, Ed’s son and the company’s President. “We provide our clients with a great customer experience, and a lot of our growth comes from referrals. That has led to our growing through the entire state of New Jersey and the surrounding states.”

Currently, there are ten branches within New Jersey Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Ryan believes that part of this expansion can be attributed to the way in which the company, “let leaders lead, and we also do a great job in hiring people. We let great people do a great job by not micro managing.”

Initially, the company started by providing services to residential and restaurant clients. Over time, it expanded its services in the commercial field. The team now also services the hospitality industry, healthcare, warehousing, storage facilities, food processing, schools, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing clients. It possesses a host of specialities that the average pest control companies may not have, including a board certified entomologist.

“In North America, I’ve heard statistics indicating that there are somewhere in the area of 20,000 pest control companies. Ninety percent of them have five or fewer employees. With that, you will not be able to adequately service a pharmaceutical or food processing facility, nor will you be able to meet the insurance requirements.”

The company is active in state and national associations, along with different networking events. It also partners with a pest control organization called Copesan which organizes a network of local pest control service providers to service national accounts. This could include hardware chains, coffee shops or fast food restaurants.

Pest control is a saturated market so remaining at the forefront of different types of marketing and advertising is imperative. Viking co-president (and marketing guru) Dan Bradbury knows how to make itself visible as shown with the ‘Roach Coach’ for example. A number of buses throughout New Jersey have been wrapped in an eye catching cockroaches design featuring the Viking Pest Control logo as part of its new advertising venture. As a humorous aside, one of the bus lines in the area refused to work with the company because of the ‘Roach Coach’. Dan jokes, “I guess the bus company was afraid their customers would think the bus actually had roaches on it!”

Viking plans to double in size by 2020 and is confident that this is an attainable goal. It believes that the amount of money it is investing back into the company will allow it to not only maintain the same standards of service, but actually increase the level of performance and customer experience. Hand held technology, which was not in use only five years ago, is helping with this projected growth and also enabling the customer to access relevant information.

“By 2020, we will probably have every technician on hand held. We aspire to be a paperless company. There will be even greater transparency to the customer. It will be similar to when you buy a product online; a document will be sent to your inbox with information about the service technician, the job that was done, and how to make enquiries or ask questions, along with how to contact us. We want to provide the best possible service experience for our customers. That is paramount for all of us at Viking.”

Ryan and Dan foresee seamless growth. Viking has entered into various marketplaces and continues to make sizable gains in business. It is also focused on acquisitions, and the baby boomer generation is coming towards retirement which will pose opportunities for acquiring the businesses of retiring pest control business owners in the near future.

“We have doubled in size over a four year period; that is why I believe this is doable,” says Ryan. “We have a track record of doing it in a lesser period of time, but turning one dollar into two dollars and two dollars into four dollars gets a little bit harder as the numbers get bigger. The reason I mention this is because our employees are psyched and totally pumped up. They have their eye on the prize.”

It helps to have a great crew of people and employees are aware that there is more opportunity to grow and have a career with Viking. The planned doubling will create a host of new positions within the company. There will also be opportunities to move up and the company would obviously prefer to hire and promote from within whenever possible. “We have people on board that are very excited about their future here at Viking, which is very personally rewarding to me.”

In 2008, the company saw positive growth despite the Global Financial Crisis. “The joke is that bugs don’t read or follow the stock market so therefore the economy does not affect us tremendously,” says Ryan.

When asked if the company was recession proof, Ryan said he is uncomfortable using the term because he doesn’t want to tempt fate; however, any restaurant that has roaches crawling across the table has to take care of that, regardless of the economic situation. If you have mice in your home, then you want a pest control company.

It is also important to note that pest control is a relatively low cost service which will not greatly impact on anyone’s personal budget or a company’s bottom line. The average homeowner will be dealing with a number in the hundreds of dollars for annual pest control. This encompasses general pest control, but to deal with bedbugs, for example, would cost more. And as we know, there has been an unfortunate boom in bedbugs over the last several years.

“Our industry was caught off guard,” says Ryan. “Nobody had seen a bedbug since the 1930s. It was assumed that they had gone away, therefore the chemical manufacturers were not producing or doing any research on them, and then… bam!”

The spread of bedbugs took place through international travel and now people are largely at a loss as to what to do. But Ryan assures me that it is under control in his jurisdictions. The company has a couple of four legged weapons to help against bedbugs. Human inspections are a good tool, but not as effective as dog inspections. Enter Helga and Hagar: the bedbug detection dogs.

These canine detectives are similar to dogs that one would see at an airport sniffing for explosives or drugs. The only difference is that they are sniffing for bedbugs. These adorable pest controllers are so popular that Viking Pest Control is currently on the lookout for new dog crews to help tackle the bedbug epidemic. They live with their handler which makes them a well adjusted team that can detect bugs embedded in a couch or as high as the ceiling.

“It’s quite amazing to see. We have been able to service movie theatre chains and department stores in less time and thus at a lower cost to clients. They are beagles, but it does not have to be a beagle, however they are common and popular in this type of work.”

With founder Ed and his sons Ryan and Dan, the company is very much a family run industry. “I am very proud of the relationship the three of us have,” shares Ryan. “We have been able to keep family first, and that is the most important thing. We have about 190 employees and consider them family as well. While pest control may be overlooked by most, it has provided a great opportunity for me, my family and the families of our employees. For that we are all very grateful for what we have and excited for what the future beholds.”

December 11, 2017, 2:36 AM EST