The old joke is that the easiest job in America is being a weather forecaster in San Diego, where it’s always 72°F and sunny. But the weather isn’t the only consistent thing you’ll find in the eighth-largest city in the country. Lloyd Pest Control, (originally The Lloyd Co.) was founded in 1931 and has built its well- recognized brand by delivering high-quality services and putting customer satisfaction first.
Yet, the company’s start in the pest management business was, shall we say, unique. Al Ogle, grandfather of current President Jamie Ogle, purchased the company for the princely sum of $125 in 1936, and began chasing rats from local warehouses and businesses during San Diego’s construction boom that sent the city’s dense rodent population scurrying for new homes.
The elder Ogle, a one-man show at the time, had an interesting approach to his customers’ rodent problems. One that could be described as a loose interpretation of early Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
“Rats are nocturnal, so my grandfather would wait until nighttime to enter warehouses,” says Ogle “His preferred control method was a .22 caliber rifle, which he loaded with bird shot. My grandfather had a great commitment to getting rid of his customers’ pests — and an even better aim.”
Ogle says his grandfather entered the pest control business because it offered a reliable source of income and employment, something tough to come by during the Great Depression.
“He dropped out of high school to support his family and set out to build a business that would allow him to achieve that,” says Ogle. “He was a classic entrepreneur.”
Al’s son, and Jamie’s father, Jim Ogle, joined the company following college and a stint in the U.S. Navy, and helped expand the company’s service offerings beyond general pest control and into the termite business.
“My dad, like my grandfather, learned the business from the ground up and was very hands-on and detailed focused,” says Jamie Ogle, who started working at the company during high school, as do so many members of multi-generational pest control businesses.
Jim Ogle served as president from 1975 until 2000, and the plan was that Jamie would eventually take over the company after college and spending time working outside the industry to see how someone with a last name other than an Ogle ran a business.
That plan took a twist in the fall of 1990, when Jim was diagnosed with lymphoma during Jamie’s senior year at the University of California, Davis. Jamie came on board in the spring of 1991 following his graduation and immersed himself in learning the business from the ground level, like his grandfather and father had done. Thankfully, Jim is now 83, and playing golf and pickle ball every week.
Ogle spent time as a technician, termite inspector, account manager and fumigator in that period, and he learned the business from a perspective that he now greatly appreciates.
“My dad always said, ‘Take care of your employees and all else will work out,’ and my time in the field early on made me realize how accurate that was and why we remain dedicated to that today,” says Ogle.
LESSONS LEARNED IN TRANSITION. Any father and son relationship is subject to its share of ups and downs, and Jim and Jamie Ogle’s was no different.
The need for detail that Jim Ogle emphasized in his management style was not how Jamie viewed the role of management. His style emphasized hiring the right people and trusting them to do their jobs. And as one could imagine it led to some tension.
While working full-time, Jamie went back to earn his MBA at the University of San Diego to help broaden his business acumen, he didn’t get the chance to gain it immediately following college.
When he came back armed with his degree, he was named a vice president and was sharing an office with his dad.
“When I came back, we didn’t have a clearly communicated path to succession and my role had no real responsibility,” says Jamie Ogle.
That combination led to some frustrating moments for both and eventually to Jim’s decision to step back and hand over the reins to Jamie. Jim’s Vistage group encouraged him to transition the company to Jamie, which Jim did at the turn of the century, along with giving up his Vistage group seat as well.
“We worked very hard at our relationship and met for breakfast every week to keep the lines of communication open,” recalls Ogle. “My dad thought I was out to change everything he had built, and I took his advice as criticism. I was young, thought I ‘knew everything’ and we were just doing what we thought would make the business better.”
Once the decision was made that Jamie would take over, Jim, who is widely recognized in the pest management industry for his humility and kindness, stepped back and did what a good father does — support his son.
“My dad was terrific during the transition, never being critical of me in front of people but continuing to share knowledge and experience,” says Ogle.
Alfie Treleven, CEO of Sprague Pest Solutions, has known the Ogle family for years — since Jamie was in college — and has always admired and respected how they went about building their company.
“You always look at the people that are ahead of you and try to learn from what they are doing,” adds Treleven, who sits at the helm of a fourth-generation company up the Pacific coast in Tacoma, Wash.
Treleven says Jamie Ogle, who did a case study comparison of Lloyd and Sprague while pursuing his MBA, and his dad are both students of life and business.
“They’ve studied successful people and organizations and have taken an even-keeled approach to overcoming challenges and capitalizing on opportunities,” says Treleven.
Ogle says he thought he had the bull by the horns when he became president in 2000, but he soon discovered that being the head man wasn’t so simple. “My dad had run the company for 25 years and made it look easy,” says Ogle. “I learned quickly that things didn’t happen by accident but by design.”
The competitive Ogle, a trait he has displayed from a very young age, wanted to prove himself and show that he could do the job and lead the company.
“The great thing about a family business is that you have the chance to continue a legacy. It also comes with a tremendous responsibility for all the employees, their families, and the responsibility of the legacy as well,” says Ogle.
AN EYE TO THE FUTURE. Buoyed by a strong company culture that bound employees together, Ogle was able to share and implement his vision for the company and steer it in the direction needed to meet the changing demands of both commercial and residential customers.
The company opened a call center in 2002 — a move his dad privately counseled against — and multiple service centers under Jamie’s watch, and it has expanded training and employee career development efforts.
“I told Jamie when they opened the call center that it was a bad idea,” recalls Jim Ogle. “I was probably right the first year, but Jamie’s team’s determination to improve our company came through and the call center transformed how Lloyd services its customers.”
Today, Lloyd Pest Control is the 25th largest pest management company in the U.S. on the PCT Top 100 List ($32 million) and operates seven service centers in addition to its corporate office. The company has plans to open a new service center in Los Angeles County this fall.
Jim Ogle still has an office at the company, but his visits are more sporadic as he fully enjoys retirement and Jamie sees his dad as the company’s spiritual leader.
“He sees the size and scope of things we are doing today and shakes his head and says, ‘Wow,’” says Jamie. “He is very proud of the legacy he carried on from his dad, and that he furthered not only for our family, but our employees as well. It is neat to be able to share this with him.”
Will there be a fourth generation of Ogles running the company some day? Jamie Ogle would like to see the business stay in the family. While his daughter is off to grad school, his high school-aged son and niece are working at the company during the summer months.
Ogle says the company has been fortunate to have the right leadership style in place at the right time over its history.
“Our challenge is to keep the company sustainable and independent moving forward and always remember what my grandfather and dad taught me and that is to take care of the customer and take care of the employees,” says Ogle.
The author is a partner with B Communications and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.