Mike Pugliese, PCT’s 2020 Residential Technician of the Year, is a person who both Terminix Service’s customers and fellow employees rely on in their day-to-day lives. From training new technicians to selling services to new customers, Pugliese is able to excel at his job as a residential technician by adapting to the needs of those around him.

Pugliese began his work in pest control back in his home state of New York, when a friend let him know that the company he worked for was hiring. One thing led to another, and Pugliese was hired as a service technician at Knockout Pest Control.

A few years later, Pugliese began working at Apex Pest Control in Manhattan. It was while he was working at Apex that he realized how many fascinating people a person can meet in pest control.

“We worked Rockefeller Center, so I did get to meet a few interesting people that way,” he said, “I got to meet Roy Orbison, Paul McCartney and the cast of Saturday Night Live while I serviced the area. It was pretty fun.”

By 1994, Pugliese and his wife had two young sons, and they wanted to raise their family outside of city life. They left New York and headed south, to North Carolina, and Pugliese soon secured a job at the Terminix Service branch in Hendersonville, N.C., where he has stayed for the past 26 years.

A HOME AT TERMINIX SERVICE. At Terminix Service, Pugliese found a company that supported his desire to make family life his No. 1 priority.

“It’s given me an opportunity to provide well for my family, take care of my boys, and get them grown and up on their feet,” Pugliese said. “It has provided me with an opportunity to have a good family and have a good home.”

Pugliese said Terminix Service also has provided him with opportunities to attend educational events and learn more about the pest control industry. He has since become certified in general pest control, wood-destroying insects, termite, and fumigation in the state of North Carolina.

As a primarily residential tech at Terminix Service, Pugliese is responsible for a wide variety of jobs, including planning routes, scheduling appointments, and selling services to new and existing customers in his territory.

Pugliese said there are a lot of challenges that can come with running a route on a tight schedule, especially when it comes to interacting with customers.

“Everyone’s got their little idiosyncrasies, so you have to handle each person individually. Some people you can get along with and some people can be a challenge. That’s for any of us in the industry,” he said. “You have to just try to keep a calm and positive attitude so it doesn’t get the better of you.”

But for Pugliese, interacting with many types of people is also the part of his job he enjoys the most.

“I work with some really good people, some really talented co-workers. Over all these years, I’ve met a lot of fascinating people, with some incredible background stories,” he said “Meeting them has been also a lot of fun, to hear what their life story has been and what they’ve done.”

Terminix Service Branch Manager Greg Hale (right) congratulates Technician of the Year Mike Pugliese.

A PEOPLE-FIRST PERSON. It was Pugliese’s ability to adapt and develop relationships with his co-workers and customers that made his manager, Greg Hale, nominate him for the Technician of the Year Award.

Hale and Pugliese came to Terminix Service at the same time, in 1994, and working together for more than two decades has shown Hale just how deserving Pugliese is of the Residential Technician of the Year Award.

“Mike, he will do whatever it takes to make a customer happy,” Hale said. “We have customers calling in and sending emails about how good of service he does, how much they like him, how he’s professional all the time and has a great attitude.”

In fact, Hale recently had a phone call from a customer who decided to completely switch his pest control business to Terminix Service after Pugliese sold him a new service.

“The guy called in, just bragging about Mike and the service he’d done and how professional he was. And that was just this morning. Every day we get stuff like that about him,” Hale said.

Pugliese’s friendly, people-first approach to pest control also extends to new technicians he trains and mentors.

“Over all the years I’ve had quite a few up in the truck and I try to train them as much as I can in the time that I get them,” Pugliese said. He shared that one major part of his training is offering new technicians some advice that he received a long time ago.

“What I’ve told a lot of them is what a wise old man told me years ago. Fifty percent of your job is to make sure that you do your job, do it well, do it carefully, and learn everything that you need to learn,” Pugliese said. “The other half is to sell the service — being able to work with people and developing relationships with them, because it’s important, so important. You have to do your job well, but you also have to work with your customers and give them good service.”

ALWAYS DEPENDABLE. When talking about Pugliese, Hale said the first word that comes to mind is dependability. According to Hale, Pugliese’s outstanding people skills help him adapt to, and thrive in, most situations.

“He’s always willing to help here at the office with anything that needs to be done, whether it’s training new technicians, or going out and digging in the mud all day under a house. He’s willing to do anything you ask him, and everything he does is 100% him,” Hale said.

In addition to how dependable Pugliese is, another reason Hale nominated him for the award was Pugliese’s ability to constantly evolve his duties as a technician as the pest control industry changed.

“He’s adapted to the new chemicals and the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach.” Hale said. “We were just getting away from things like spraying baseboards when we hired him. He’s just adapted to whatever it takes — different house, different people who want different stuff.”

When Hale learned that Pugliese won the Residential Technician of the Year Award, he could only think about how well-deserved it was. Pugliese, however, said that winning the award came as a little bit of a shock. “It was a rather humbling experience, considering that there are a lot of talented and experienced people that I was up with, that I was even nominated,” Pugliese said. “I was very honored by it.”

The author is a New York City-based writer.