Depending on your point of view, the termite control market in 2019 was an up or down year. Revenue and outlooks were positive. Areas of concern included swarms, service prices and liability risks.
The market also appeared to be shifting. Pest management companies were not waiting for the phone to ring with swam calls, said PMPs in follow-up interviews. Instead they were proactively seeking out termite work and selling preventive termite services.
For most pest management companies, 2019 was a stellar year for termite control.
“I thought the season was great. We had swarmers back a little heavy; the economy is great. We had one of our best years in a long time,” said Steven Durieu, owner of Senate Termite Control in Gaithersburg, Md.
Matt Breda, vice president of Breda Pest Management in Loganville, Ga., said “termite was up again” following record growth in 2018. “In this industry we know when the economy and the housing market are great, the termite industry is great. The three are correlated,” he said.
In fact, 51 percent of PMPs said revenue generated from termite control services increased in the past three years, according to the PCT 2020 State of the Termite Market Survey, which was sponsored by BASF and conducted by Readex, an independent research company. This was up from 39 percent of PMPs who reported an increase in PCT’s 2019 survey.
Termite control services accounted for 26.9 percent of overall company revenue on average in 2019, up from 22.9 percent in 2018 and 25.4 percent in 2017.
Most PMPs (22 percent) said their company location generated less than $15,000 from termite-related services in 2019. Fourteen percent said they generated $50,000 to $99,999 and an equal percentage earned $100,000 to $249,999.
More than a third (35 percent) of PMPs said termite control today is more significant to the company’s bottom line than it was five years ago, up from 30 percent who felt this way last year.
Madero Pest Control in Pueblo, Colo., benefited from being in the right place at the right time. “We are one of the few local companies offering the subterranean termite service throughout Colorado,” said co-owner Angela Madero.
Others were helped by the “massive amount of commercials” run by national competitors, which increased awareness of termite control in general and complemented the advertising of smaller operators, said Durieu. “If you’re doing your correct marketing and getting your name out there, the market’s great,” he said.
Still, termite control played a less significant role at some companies, according to 19 percent of PMPs surveyed. “It’s definitely gotten smaller each year, which is the reason why we do other things,” said George Pilkington, owner of Universal Pest & Termite in Virginia Beach, Va., which now offers duct cleaning and insulation services to help offset the loss in termite work.
Pilkington said the “absolute explosion of competition” in his market over 20 years contributed to the decline. In 2019, 82 percent of pest management companies offered termite control service, an increase from 77 percent in 2017, according to PCT surveys.