Johnnie Hunter, left, and Scottie Yant with the Nashville Seal of Satisfaction Award.

Eight years ago, Scottie Yant decided it was time to pull out all the stops and see exactly where his company, Ace Exterminating of Joelton, Tenn., could go.

“After plugging away for about 20 years, I realized Ace wasn’t growing at the rate I knew it could,” Yant shares. “When I read ‘Think and Grow Rich,’ I realized that I didn’t have to be the smartest person; I just needed to surround myself with competent people. So that’s what I did: I hired people who were smart and confident, who could find better ways to do things.”


One of those people was Johnnie Hunter, now Ace’s vice president. Hunter came to the firm with an open mind and a commitment to reenergizing the company. He reports the company has grown revenues from $1.6 million in 2008 to $6.4 million in 2016. “We’ve grown steadily in the 18- to 20-percent range over the past several years,” he says. “Last year, we opened three new branches (for a total of six), and we plan to open three more each year for the next five years.”

How are they growing so aggressively? Ace has stepped up efforts in three areas:

COMMUNICATION. Hunter credits the open dialogue between management and technicians, and technicians and customers, as the linchpin of Ace’s success. “We tell our technicians that 70 percent of what we do is about communication; the other 30 percent is about the bugs,” he says. Ace’s training program aims to make every technician a great communicator, never leaving a home without either talking face-to-face with the customer or leaving them a message explaining the services provided.

Ace takes the extra step of surveying customers by phone or email about their experiences. “We take a CQI (Continuous Quality Improvement) approach, asking customers to rate our performance, share why they assigned us that rating and let us know how we might enhance service for them,” says Hunter. “We also ask if they’d refer us to a friend. That not only gives us a good idea of where we stand with them but also encourages word-of-mouth referrals.”

MARKETING. Creating a stronger digital presence via its website and social media outlets also has fueled Ace’s fire. Hunter says, “We worked with an SEO (search engine optimization) company and several social media experts to build brand awareness, and these efforts really paid off. We decided to build an in-house marketing department to keep these efforts going, and to continue identifying and implementing new ideas for promoting our brand.”

TECHNOLOGY. Hunter and Yant believe in leveraging technology as it becomes the standard for efficient operations and customer service. “Technology advances quickly. If you don’t keep up, you’ll get left behind,” Hunter says.

Above all else, Yant and Hunter agree that it’s the commitment of Ace employees that has turned the company into such a fast-growing contender. “Every person on our team knows we want to keep growing,” Yant says. “We don’t just ask our people to do things. We help them understand our goals and how we intend to reach them. We’re all very excited to be pulling in the same direction to make that happen.”