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According to research released last month from Specialty Consultants, the professional pest control industry generated an estimated $8.971 billion in total service revenue in 2018, a 4.4 percent increase from the $8.597 billion measured in 2017. The report, A Strategic Analysis of the U.S. Structural Pest Control Industry, found the U.S. structural pest control industry is comprised of nearly 20,000 pest control firms.

Total revenue earned from controlling termites this past year equaled the level of revenue earned in 2005. “It’s taken the industry 13 years to reach the $1.76 billion measured at the height of the housing boom in 2005,” said Rich Kalik, partner, Specialty Consultants. “While the housing market is nowhere near as robust as it was in 2005, preventative post-construction treatments have expanded considerably in the last several years. This past year, respondents reported that nearly 36 percent of their post-construction termite jobs were conducted on structures where no termites were present. We’re forecasting that more than 1 million post-construction termite treatments will be made in 2019,” added Kalik.

“Reinforcing earlier indications, the amount of service revenue generated from controlling bed bugs declined for the first time in five years,” said Kalik. “And service revenue from controlling rats and mice plateaued following five years of robust growth.”

Pest control operators were queried about their awareness of Electronic Rodent Monitoring (ERM) technology. More than half of the respondents said they had “heard of it, but didn’t know much about it.” While nearly one of ten respondents expected to adopt the technology in less than a year, a similar number said they thought it would be more than five years before their company adopted the technology.

A majority of respondents have a positive outlook for their business in 2019, with more than six of ten (63.6 percent) expecting their residential business to increase.

For the fourth year in a row, nearly one-quarter (24.3 percent) of the respondents reported “finding or keeping good employees” as the greatest challenge to their pest control business. The second greatest challenge was “weather” (13.0 percent), closely followed by “gaining new customers” (12.3 percent). Despite the challenges, a majority of respondents have a positive outlook for their business in 2019, with more than six of ten (63.6 percent) expecting their residential business to increase. Expectations for growth in the commercial segment were somewhat muted, with less than half (46.7 percent) of respondents expecting their commercial business to grow, down from 58.9 percent who had positive expectations for growth in 2017. More than half (53.0 percent) of respondents expect their termite business to increase this year.

Pest control operators were queried as to their concerns regarding public policy. More than two-fifths said they were most concerned with public policy at the state level, as opposed to local or federal policy. Of those who expressed public policy concerns, more than half mentioned “pesticide bans/restrictions” as the most important policy issue affecting their business, closely followed by “too much regulation on pesticide applicators.”

The report found more than 80 percent of residential pest control revenue came from services provided under annual contracts, with the remainder generated from one-time clean-out treatments.

The 2018 season market report is the 19th edition of A Strategic Analysis of the U.S. Structural Pest Control Industry. A total of 800 owners/managers of pest control firms were surveyed for this study. The market report forecasts pest control service and pesticide product category sales through 2023. Learn more at www.spcresearch.com.