James Miners, PCT’s Termite Technician of the Year, entered the pest control industry in 1995, an interesting time to say the least, to be a termite technician. It was after the chlordane days, but before the introduction of effective current-day non-repellent technology.

In many ways, this is what makes him such a great technician, said his manager, Marc Buck of Western Pest Services’ Randolph, N.J. office. “With newer termite products, it has taken some of the talent out of termite work. James started at a time when termite work required a little more knowledge and thoroughness, and he still takes that approach today.”

Miners has learned and has fine-tuned his termite control skills in everything from long and short rodding to locating pipes in the floors with a pipe finder. He’s been instrumental in supporting the branch and finding new sales opportunities; he’s consistently been among the branch’s top lead generators.

And Miners continues to take on leadership roles. He’s the go-to technician for difficult or high-profile accounts, and other service technicians look to him for his expertise. He recently became a Master Technician, which takes years of hard work, study and continued excellence in performance.

“James is a team leader and always looks to help out his peers. Never one to stand in the spotlight, James always makes sure credit is given to all for a job well done,” Buck said.

EARLY YEARS. As with many service professionals, Miners didn’t find the pest control industry — it found him. A native of Dover, N.J., Miners patterned his strong work ethic after his mom Diane, a jeweler, and his father James, Sr., a U.S. Navy veteran and a longtime New Jersey transit worker.

He first worked for a cemetery, which included landscaping and cremating bodies at the cemetery’s crematorium. Upon a friend’s recommendation he applied for a job at Western and was hired in 1995. “He told me a little about what I would be doing and how much money I could make. I also like being outdoors, so running a route appealed to me.”

Miners credits great training from Western’s Greg Mitchell and Joe Guiles (still his supervisor) for “showing him the ropes” at Western and teaching him how to become a good technician.

He started out as a residential technician but, looking to challenge himself, he took the initiative to get cross-trained in other departments. He worked on night jobs in the branch’s commercial division at large hospitals and food processing facilities.

Management at Western took notice not only of Miners’s technical skills, but of his ability to connect with customers. “James is honest, well-spoken and just a true gentleman,” Buck said.

When it comes to customer communication, Miners said thoroughness is key. “Of course, you have to be courteous and kind, and you also need to explain to them in as much detail as you can, and if possible show them what you will be doing.”

A TRUE TACTICIAN. While Miners has worked in residential and commercial pest control, he’s found a home with termite work.

“You have to deal with so many different things. You need to have an understanding of construction, be able to read and understand blueprints, and know how to use a number of different products and equipment. And you always have to be on the ball. The biggest thing is that you are protecting people’s homes and that gives you a great feeling.”

Miners also likes that termites are a formidable foe. “Unfortunately there are times when you have to go back to a job. For example, after drilling a porch area, and then a year or two later you have to go back and treat again because termites came back. Then you have to go back and explore more,” requiring Miners to use his investigative skills, extensive knowledge of termites and intellect to resolve the issue.

Buck appreciates Miners’s ability to assess and solve problems. “He always has a contingency plan. He works smart and always looks for the ‘What ifs?’ Never one to complain, James is a problem-solver and always accepts full responsibility for his work as well as any jobs involving other technicians.”

A RESPECTED COLLEAGUE. As Miners has become more tenured at Western Pest Services, he’s taken on additional responsibilities. He speaks at monthly meetings, brings new ideas to management on a regular basis and assists with all technician meetings.

He also willingly shares his knowledge with coworkers and is always available to help them troubleshoot problems. “He is usually the first in and last out. He will call out to his coworkers even if he has a tough day to see if he can assist them. James puts others first,” said Buck.

Miners also is called upon whenever the Western Randolph branch has a challenging account. For example, the branch recently needed to treat a large apartment complex on a moment’s notice. Miners came in on his day off and took care of the job from start to finish.

Miners does not mind going the extra mile for Western, a company that he has given a lot to, but one that has given back a lot to him as well. “The people in our office are all really good people — and that includes technicians, supervisors and customer service representatives. The majority of the people have been there a long time, so it’s like a family. Plus, I just enjoy the work.”

The author is internet editor and managing editor of PCT and can be reached at bharbison@gie.net.