Dream. Believe. Hustle. Achieve. Jared Borg of Pointe Pest Control, headquartered in Eagle, Idaho, says this motto defines a culture of grind. “Our technicians sold $1.2 million in sales last year from add-on services, which makes us a competitive employer,” he points out. “I don’t think you can make more money being a route manager at another company.”
The sales mentality runs deep at Pointe Pest. The firm was born in 2006 when Eclipse, a summer sales firm that owned some Orkin franchises and ran programs across the country for the company, decided to start a network of pest control businesses under the name Pointe Pest Control. Jared and Jacob Borg bought in, after working a handful of summers selling pest control for Eclipse.
Jared recalls one summer in northern Virginia when he and a team of 30 reps sold 6,000 quarterly pest control accounts to the tune of $3 million in revenue. “We crushed it,” he says, looking back on how he cultivated an interest in pest control.
So, Eclipse and its Orkin franchises, along with the Borgs, Kyle Woodbury and some other investors, opened Pointe Pest Control locations, eventually operating 17 of them across the country. Jacob was based in his hometown of Post Falls in northern Idaho (near Spokane, Wash.), and had a location in Minnesota. Jared and Woodbury went urban and opened in west Chicago and Las Vegas, Nev.
Then 2008 and 2009 happened. PCT magazine announced in an October 2008 report that Pointe Pest sold to Terminix. The Borgs and Woodbury held strong, each maintaining a Pointe Pest operation. “When the economy crashed and banks were failing — that was a scary time to be a new business owner with debt,” Jared relates. “We had customers calling us saying, ‘We are cancelling.’ At that point, I had laid off general managers and we lost one-third of our customer base in five months.”
But back to the motto — dream, believe, hustle, achieve. “It was a huge turning point to say, ‘We are not going to sell. We are in this to stay,’” Jared says. “We doubled down on who we are.”
Jacob adds, “Eclipse would go from zero to an insane number of accounts, and we were in it for the long haul — we were grinders, so we kept these branches and we stayed committed to them.”
The branches, per se, are actually completely separate businesses.
Last year they were new to the list; this year Jared’s is #52 and Jacob’s is #50. Jared has about 90 people employed at Pointe Pest in Chicago and in Northern Virginia, where the business is known as Green Pest Services. His business grew by more than 10 percent in 2018. Jacob employs about 140 people and his business shot up from $9.5 to $13.7 million from 2017 to 2018 for a growth rate of almost 44 percent.
What drove that growth? “We opened two new locations and had success with our full-time sales force selling new accounts,” Jacob reports.
The Borgs’ Pointe Pest companies are completely independent, totally separate (though the brothers see each other often), and focused on wildly different market segments. As Jared says, “We are best friends and brothers — we respect each other and our successes. But, I’d never call him and say, ‘Hey, can I have your company manual?’”
BIG AND SMALL OF IT. Jacob realized a demand for pest control in sparsely populated northern Idaho when he was finishing up his MBA at the University of Phoenix, shortly after leaving the summer sales environment and before going in on Pointe Pest. “I moved into a house and had mice, spiders, ants and wasps — and I was used to selling pest control in California, Louisiana and Virginia,” he relates. “It was an ‘A-HA’ moment where I was like, ‘Hey. This is a legit service everywhere in the world. It doesn’t matter where you live.’” Jacob worked for Eclipse another summer to sell for Orkin in Omaha, Neb., and the next summer he sold for the first Pointe Pest location in Seattle before opening his own in Minnesota and Spokane (2007).
Eventually, Jacob expanded into the tri-city area of eastern Washington. “From there, we have expanded every other year,” he reports. Jacob’s Pointe Pest business covers the entire state of Oregon, most of eastern Washington and much of northern Idaho. There are roughly 14 locations, but it’s not a clean-cut count. “In some locations, we might have one or two technicians working out of their trucks, and in other locations we might have a physical lease with technicians,” he says.
His brother Jared says, “He took a mindset of going to smaller markets and being the only player in town — and we wanted to go big into markets like Chicago.”
Jared adds, “We were the first knocking doors in Chicago.” But he and Jacob emphasize that door-to-door (D2D) sales is not their primary form of marketing. Technicians boost revenues with add-on sales and traditional advertising, including direct mail, online and social media, which drives new customers to the business.
Customer retention also contributes to annual growth, because when you can build on a foundation of loyal clients rather than replacing lost business, you’re already ahead. Jared reports that one-third of his Pointe Pest customers have been with the business at least four years, and one-third are seven-year plus veterans.
“It’s flattering to see how many people come from referrals,” Jared adds, noting another avenue of growth.
Meanwhile, along with operating Pointe Pest, Jacob and partner Gabe Chariton also run Pointe Pros, a door-to-door marketing firm that sells for other businesses. Chariton also worked for Eclipse back in the day, and moved on to sell for the satellite television industry for a company marketing Dish Network. Jared is a client of Pointe Pros.
But aside from the dedicated sales firm Pointe Pros, don’t call Pointe Pest a D2D company.
“We have a chip on our shoulder about that because a lot of companies that are classified as D2D, that’s all they do, and we do a lot of traditional marketing and sales,” Jacob says.
GROWING WITH TALENT. In a tight labor market, attracting qualified people to accommodate growth is a challenge for many service businesses, including pest management. Jared says his Pointe Pros hit a “transformation” when both locations hit $3 million, and this revenue marker allowed him to focus more on culture and support.
That’s how dream, believe, hustle achieve comes to life.
“We have people who are part of this vision,” Jared says, relating that add-on sales give technicians additional earning opportunities.
Jacob says, “Our bench is getting deep, and we have attained some full-time employees that have worked for us for a long time — one of them, Doug Dufur, since 2007, soon after we opened.” Dufur is now a corporate trainer.
After starting and growing businesses in a deep recession, Jared adds, “Last year, a light bulb went off and we said, ‘This is what it’s like to own a business when the economy is good.’”The author is a frequent contributor to PCT.