This issue marks the 15th year our staff has compiled the PCT Top 100 list. The industry has changed by leaps and bounds in the past 15 years, so we decided to explore some of these changes in “15 in 15”. PCT Contributing Writer Anne Nagro tackled 15 industry trends that have changed over the last decade and a half. Think back to 2002…virtually no one was treating for bed bugs, termites were king and iPhones were five years away from being introduced.

Like I’ve talked about before in this space, while this month’s issue focuses quite a bit on the industry’s 100 largest firms, that doesn’t mean we forgot about our readers who operate smaller businesses. This trends article — as well as the other 13 pages of editorial about the companies on this year’s list — features content that applies to companies large and small. Our goal with this Top 100 coverage is to produce information that is useful to all of our readers.

There have been a lot of changes to this year’s list, most notably that six firms on last year’s list are not on this year’s list: Eradico Services, PermaTreat, Action Pest Control, Alpha Ecological, Buffalo Exterminating and Critter Control. The reason? Each was purchased in 2014/early 2015.

Next year, we’ll have more of the same. This is the last year for The Steritech Group, Alterra Pest Control and Oliver Exterminating, since each was purchased in late 2015. Who knows what will happen in 2016 with M&A activity. We have at least one Top 100 company purchased thus far this year: Catseye Pest Control sold the majority of its assets to ServiceMaster last month.

Because six firms dropped off, the 100th company this year is a bit smaller than last year’s. The list representing 2014 revenues ended at $5.52 million; the 2015 list is almost $5 million. But, that means there are new companies continually appearing on the Top 100. To quote the “15 trends” article: In 2015, there were 20,500 pest management companies compared to 18,425 in 2002 — that’s 2,075 more, said Gary Curl, president of Specialty Consultants. “With all of the consolidation, we’re ending up with higher percentages of single-office operations, which leads me to believe that there are one- or two-man operations that are heading out on their own,” he said.

The companies new to the list this year include Animal Pest Management Services, Blue Chip Pest Services, Breda Pest Management, Hometown Pest Control, Kilter Termite and Pest Control, O’Connor Pest Control and Petri’s Positive Pest Control. Congratulations to them!

A few notes about this year’s list:

  • Curl says the industry grew 4.7 percent from 2014 to 2015; PCT Top 100 companies grew an average of 8.8 percent each. Why the big difference? It’s likely because the numbers PCT reports includes the impact of revenue growth from acquisitions.
  • Talk about consistency: Last year Rollins and Terminix were $41.9 million apart; this year that number is $41.8 million.
  • For the first time Ecolab is not #3. Rentokil took its spot and Ecolab is now #4.
  • Fifteen years ago, Larry King was 67 years old (see PCT Publisher Dan Moreland’s Viewpoint column last month).

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If you’re wondering about the “Top Gun” imagery in the issue, our staff decided to pay homage to the host city of our fourth biennial PCT Top 100 Awards Ceremony & Executive Summit: San Diego. The event, which is sponsored by Univar, is scheduled for June 15-16 at the U.S. Grant Hotel, with the Awards Ceremony being held at The Prado at Balboa Park.

While brainstorming cover ideas to represent San Diego (a sunny beach? the zoo? the NFL Chargers?) we remembered the movie “Top Gun” was set at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. And as “Top Gun” fans know, one of the movie’s memorable set locations was the Kansas City Barbeque, a restaurant and bar located in San Diego’s harbor district. Top 100 event attendees will have an opportunity to tour the city, including the USS Midway (one of America’s longest-serving aircraft carriers) so we hit on multiple levels with this imagery. Of course, there’s the San Diego/Top Gun connection (side note: there’s recently been talk of a Top Gun 2 so it’s top of mind right now for many movie buffs). But most important, the PCT Top 100 firms — and all of the “wingmen” that represent them — legitimately can be called the industry’s “Top Guns” for their growing revenues, innovative ideas, and dedication to customers and employees.

Here’s to another 15 years!

The author is editor of PCT.