As a classic entrepreneur, Aptive Environmental Founder and Chairman David Royce thrives on the challenges and opportunities inherent with a start-up business. Three times he’s launched and flipped pest control businesses, the most recent being Alterra, a $75 million operation he sold to Terminix in November 2015.

Just one month later, in December 2015, Royce launched Aptive Environmental. The name Aptive comes from combining words in the phrase “proactive approach” — which is what Aptive strives to provide as part of what Royce calls “the smarter approach to pest control.” In just one year’s time, the Provo, Utah-based firm opened 29 offices, generating more than $37 million in revenues to rank #21 on the 2017 PCT Top 100 list.

How did Aptive grow so fast, so quickly? Part of the answer is found with the sale of Alterra to Terminix. As with other deals Royce made with the Memphis, Tenn.-based firm, he retained his core leadership and his sales force. Aptive is a great example of a company that effectively uses door-to-door sales to rapidly build customer volume; in Aptive’s case, many of these sales professionals are college students comfortable with cold calling.

“We were able to retain the same executive team, the same marketing arm and sales force, and one key operator for each location,” Royce said. “Most of our time has been spent hiring new technicians and customer service staff, training everybody and recreating all of our training manuals and training videos.”

Royce also cited as a growth driver the expansion of Aptive’s Internet marketing in its call center. “It’s really a combination of our sales force and marketing, and our referral program.”

Another key to Aptive’s success has been its appeal to the millennial workforce. Aptive provides employees with modern amenities, and places emphasis on finding unique and different ways to express employee appreciation. Royce said the Aptive company culture more closely resembles that of tech companies. “I don’t think Silicon Valley should have all the fun. Any industry can be unique and differentiate simply by focusing on things like amenities, activities and retreats.”

What’s different this time around is that Royce, who recently turned 40, has “taken some chips off the table”; he serves as chairman, while the day-to-day operations are run by his long-tenured leadership team of CEO Vess Pearson; Chief Experience Officer Derrick Royce; COO Heath Avery; CFO Steve Eliason; and Entomologist Trent Frazer. “One of my favorite quotes from Gandhi is ‘A sign of a good leader is not how many followers you have, but how many leaders you create.’”

Royce believes this new leadership has brought a breath of fresh air to the company and infused it with new ideas. What’s next for Aptive? Already this year, Aptive has expanded to Washington, Colorado, Michigan and central New Jersey, but Royce said the goal is “not to build a bigger company, but to build a better one. We always want to be thinking about what we can be doing to be a frontrunner in our industry. What we can be doing unique and different.” — Brad Harbison