Last year the management team at Heron Lawn and Pest Control decided to re-brand to better reflect their organization’s service diversification. “We felt we were now much more than the lawn care and pest control company we used to be, so we changed the company’s name to Heron Home & Outdoor,” said Greg Clendenin, the Orlando-area company’s CEO. “In addition to lawn care and pest control we’ve grown to provide a long list of services and products single-family homeowners need: termite control, mosquito reduction, bed bug control, irrigation, landscape lighting, wildlife control, insulation installation, and tree and shrub care. Our primary target is the single-family residential homeowner.”

The 14-year-old company announced the name change initially to their nearly 200 employees by gathering them in a local airport hangar company officials had rented. Vehicles displaying the new name and new logo were then driven into the hangar. “In essence we told our employees that this is who we now are and what they’ve helped create and what our future will be,” he said. “And in 2015, our diverse service offerings, our expertise, our outstanding customer service and our marketing efforts (including advertising, public relations and creative sales literature pieces) were well received by the public — so much so that we produced $18.5 million in revenues — a 17 percent growth rate.”

HEALTHY GROWTH EACH YEAR. The organization was originally a three-man company founded in 2002 by pest control entrepreneurs Joe Patti, Rodney Lackey and Steve Okros. They had originally worked for Clendenin some years ago when he was a managing partner of Middleton Lawn and Pest Control. After the three undertook their new business venture they began to expand and over the years, added new services. In so doing they saw healthy growth each year. Heron Home & Outdoor now serves about 20,000 customers (primarily residential) in the nine counties surrounding Orlando, stretching from Ocala to Tampa to Daytona.

Left to right: Greg Clendenin, CEO; Joseph Patti, board chairman; Steve Okros, COO; and Rodney Lackey, president.
“Almost two years ago they invited me to join them as CEO of their company,” Clendenin said. “I accepted, seeing it as a good fit for us. And it’s been working out great. We’ve been recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. by several national magazines. We’ve got a high level of customer retention because of our committed and professional team. They are craftsmen and craftswomen and are the best-trained and best-equipped pest control people in the area. They are high-quality service people and help differentiate us from our competitors.”

Clendenin said the company takes a great deal of pride in doing everything in a quality manner. “We charge appropriately so we can deliver the highest-quality service to our single-family homeowner customers and be their first choice; that’s our mission.”

RIGHT THING TO DO. Clendenin also said the company strives to be a good corporate citizen in the areas they serve. As a prime example, he pointed to Heron Home & Outdoor’s cooperative efforts with the Oviedo, Florida police department in “Operation Bird’s Eye”—a homeland defense program.

“We strongly believe that giving back to our various communities shows our appreciation for their business and helps improve those communities,” Clendenin said. “We really believe that’s the right thing to do. And after talking about important ways to do so, Joe Patti approached the police department in the city of Oviedo and got us involved in ‘Bird’s Eye.’ The police welcomed our involvement, and trained and sensitized our technicians, who are working in the various neighborhoods, to look for and properly react to any suspicious activities by suspicious-looking individuals. Our people are to simply call the police department non-emergency number and report what they’re observing. The police then step in and take it from there.”

Clendenin said that effort has been working out well and the firm is now looking to expand that volunteer program to the police departments of the other Florida communities Home & Outdoor serves.

The 37-year pest management industry veteran said he expects the company’s growth to continue at an impressive rate. “We are fully committed to grow while providing top-flight service,” he said. — Jordan Fox