Complacency is not a word that exists in the Arrow Exterminators vocabulary. But growth certainly is.
Family-owned and Atlanta-based Arrow Exterminators, ranked #6 on this year’s PCT Top 100 list, has made growth part of its DNA and a pillar of the company’s core values.“From day one the company identified growth as a core value that we will pursue consistently,” says Emily Thomas Kendrick, Arrow president and CEO. “It’s who we are.”
Kendrick, whose grandparents James “Starkey” and Jean Thomas started the company in 1964 in the back of a beauty parlor, says Arrow’s growth — double digits for the last eight consecutive years — has come through both acquisitions and organically.
“Our expectations are always going to be high and that isn’t going to change,” says Kendrick. “It took 47 years to get to $100 million and seven more years to double that, and our team members know what’s next.”
And although Arrow is just shy of $200 million on this year’s list (the company’s 2017 revenues were $199,504,000), the goal was achieved in February 2018. The company celebrated the achievement in New Orleans by shutting down Canal Street for a parade on Bourbon Street. Kendrick posted to her Facebook page that week, “A High School Band, a Jazz Band, and over 500 of our award winning ROCK STARS!!! WE ARE JUST GETTING STARTED! Thank you to our wonderful customers and congratulations to all of our incredible ladies and gentlemen! You’re unbelievable! #200million #arrowstrong #4YrsTill300 #Opportunities #ArrowStrong #IWorkWithSuperStars”
JOBS & CULTIRE. Besides the obvious excitement of the $200 million revenue milestone, two aspects of the growth that Kendrick is most proud of are the company’s ability to generate new job opportunities — Arrow has added 1,000 team members in the last seven years and projects it will add another 1,000 in the coming years — and safeguard the culture her grandparents and father, Joe, built.
How does a company successfully on-board more than a 1,000 team members — many of whom joined Arrow through an acquisition — while introducing and protecting its culture without losing sight of its end goals?
Tim Pollard, Arrow’s COO and senior executive vice president, says Arrow looks closely at cultural fit early on in the valuation process.
“We place a high value on cultural fit and go all-in from the top down when we bring a new company on board,” says Pollard.
A transition team stays in place to help with the assimilation process and Pollard says they expect new employees to stay in place and grow just as they do longtime Arrow staffers.
“Many companies can create jobs but we pride ourselves on creating career opportunities,” says Kendrick. “In our culture our people have always been our largest competitive advantage and we want to protect that at all costs.”
As companies grow, whether it is from $1 million to $5 million or $100 million to $200 million, challenges arise that make it hard to stay true to the values and culture that existed at the beginning.
While Kendrick acknowledges there have been challenges along the way for Arrow, she sees the company’s continued growth as a source of pride and she relishes being able to follow the original recipe for the “secret sauce” that allows the company to continue to excel.
“Our growth allows us to not only add and retain more people and offer them better career opportunities, but it helps us retain our culture as well,” she says.