Wednesday, September 19, 2018Canada's Leading Online Business Magazine

Abell Pest Control

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Proven Pest Solutions

The mark of Abell Pest Control’s success is no mark at all. It is what you no longer see—the pests—that shows they do things right, and do things right the first time.

The national pest control agency, which is expanding into upper state New York, started out in 1924 by the grandfather of current owner John Abell. Pest control was yet to be the industry it is today, as the original company was solely a formulator and manufacturer of pesticides. It was during the depression era that pesticides were extensively used in food protection and in manufacturing and warehousing. Soon after, Abell’s father and grandfather started to work together. From there, the company grew and expanded into a professional service that also applied its pesticides for various industries.

The necessity of pest control

Pest control has been a hot-button issue in parts of the country lately. A January article in the Ottawa Citizen indicated that bedbugs, for instance, are on the rise across Canada. While awareness is growing, a stigma about infestation inhibits treatment and effective education. While Ottawa doesn’t keep official city-wide statistics, the number of bedbug treatments in Ottawa’s 160 OCH buildings rose from 370 in 2006 to 1,260 in 2008—almost doubling each year.

In preparation for the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver, specially trained dogs are being used to sniff out bed bugs and other critters. Whether it is rodents finding new homes or hotels looking for a clean bill of health before visitors start pouring in, pest control is as pertinent an issue now as ever, and Abell Pest Control is there to meet the challenge.

When John Abell joined the family business in 1976, his mandate was to nationalise the company. “I just took a process that worked in Ontario,” says Abell, “and through acquisitions and home growing, we expanded throughout Canada. Today, we’re in Canada and have a few locations in the upper U.S.”

There were two primary opportunities for growth and development Abell identified and which he honed in on. The first was a client focus. “We have developed programs to engage with clients to meet their specific needs,” says Abell. The second was to always have good employees. “As a service, our people are the product in many ways. People are an important part of the plan. I am very invested in the empowerment, engagement, inspiration and motivation of people. We have created an environment where people can grow and flourish and feel comfortable,” says Abell.

Mike Heimbach, marketing manager, agrees that Abell Pest Control has a reputation of being an exemplary employer. “What I’ve come to learn is Abell Pest Control is the best employer in the industry. People know that and it has allowed us to bring over the best people.” Abell elaborates on that point, saying “We get to cherry pick. We do in-house training because we want to develop our employees. We have a massive training department that goes well above government standards, which is a major part of our company.”

Covering the country

The ubiquitous nature of pests means that Abell Pest Control has clients from all industries and neighbourhoods. Their customer base is described as “anyone with a door,” by Abell. Homes, restaurants and facilities; all can be easily penetrated and infested with pests. Even offshore oil rigs and mines are on the Abell Pest Control roster. “We protect employees, properties and commodities in every industry,” says Abell.

For the team at Abell Pest Control, it’s not about just going in, applying chemicals and leaving. The company has a new—and thorough—integrated pest management system that has pushed their pest control strategy to levels his grandfather might never have imagined. “A part of our training is the understanding of the pest, its nature, how they breed and what they eat,” says Abell. “With that knowledge, you can do more than apply pesticides. It can be temperature control, environmental changes, food source management, or storage practices.”

There is no choice but to exhaust the potential of pest control. “It’s about using all the tools in the arsenal. And a lot of it is knowledge, and in concert with pesticides, the result is more permanent. We have academics in life sciences who conduct our training. It’s vogue these days, but we have been doing this for a long time,” says Abell.

Technology integration

In order to continue to compete in this marketplace, Abell Pest Control has distinguished itself from the competition in technology. Far from being a Ma and Pa start-up—of which there is no shortage in the pest control industry—Abell set out to “find something different.”

“Early in the game, we decided to employ leading-edge technology, both in pesticides and computer systems. We were pioneers in engineering custom software for the pest control industry.  A lot of the software was designed around the manufacturer, wholesaler and distributor, but none for the service side. We pioneered one that was client and employee centric,” says Abell.

 Today, the company is one of the only companies in North America that has everything synced,using handheld devices, so clients can watch what they’re doing on the computer in real time. Pest graphing, pressure graphing, sanitation auditing, temperature monitoring is all client-specific.

Heimbach puts it plainly. “If there’s a problem, it’s important our clients find out from us, not the other way around. Our reports are mock audits for companies. It’s a huge value-add to help companies become health compliant, especially restaurants,” he adds.

Abell Pest Control is the one provider for big, national brands because they go coast to coast. They offer consistency from British Columbia to Newfoundland. Abell Pest Control has grown in excess of 10 per cent in 2009, and they continue to grow. “Our strategy is to keep doing what we are doing and our goal is to be the dominant player in Canada.”

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