VALLEY VIEW, Ohio — Mosquitoes positive with West Nile virus (WNV) have been found in a variety of samples throughout the United States. Here is a look at recent activity from various media outlets:

In the U.S., West Nile virus is primarily spread by the Culex mosquitoes, including Culex restuans (left) and Culex pipiens (right).

Colorado. A sample of mosquitoes in Weld County tested positive for WNV, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The infected mosquitoes were detected using the county’s weekly mosquito testing. A report-based detection system is used, which depends on reports from the public to track cases. There have been no human cases of WNV in Colorado this year. In 2020, 35 people in Colorado contracted the disease and one person died as a result. Source: The Gazette

Illinois. The Chicago Department of Public Health announced a group of mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile. Four pools were positive of the 108 tested between July 5 and 9. Mosquito traps and testing have been occurring in the area since late May. There have not been any human cases of West Nile in Chicago so far this year. CDPH will continue to monitor mosquito samples and 40,000 catch basins will be treated with larvicide. Source: WTTW

Indiana/Ohio. Health officials in Indiana and Ohio are urging people to be cautious because West Nile has been detected in mosquitoes in both states. A sample collected in Vigo County, Ind., tested positive, as well as a sample taken from a park in Toledo, Ohio. No human cases have been detected in the area thus far. Source: WLWT

Oklahoma. According to Tulsa Health Department officials, a sample of mosquitoes in a trap in Tule County tested positive for West Nile. THD runs a mosquito surveillance program where traps are set weekly in places throughout Tulsa County. The caught mosquitoes are tested on a weekly basis. The program begins each May. There are no confirmed cases of West Nile virus in humans so far this year. Source: KJRH

Texas. The first human case of West Nile virus in Dallas County for 2021 was detected. Positive West Nile mosquito samples have been found in Cedar Hill, Dallas, Highland Park, Mesquite and University Park. These cases have led to scattered spraying in order to decrease the mosquito population. Source: NBC DFW


Black Ownership Matters Holds First Executive Board Leadership Summit

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Black Ownership Matters (BOM) held its first Executive Board Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., at the end of June. In addition to strategic planning and program development, BOM met with several local companies and individuals interested in growing their businesses, or searching for guidance in starting their own pest control company.

Left to right: Dr. Hamilton Allen, Faye Golden, Jim Steed, Jason Payne, Dr. Sonja Thomas, Sterling Barbour, Wayne Golden and Ashley Clark.

The meeting was attended by board members Jason Payne, CEO of Payne Pest Management; Wayne Golden, owner of GSquare Consulting; Dr. Hamilton Allen, Florida regional technical director for HomeTeam Pest Defense; Faye Golden, director of government affairs for Cook’s Pest Control; Sterling Barbour, president of Revolution National Pest Council; Dr. Sonja Thomas, extension specialist of Pesticide Safety Education for Alabama Cooperative Extension; Ashley Clark, vice president at Allenstrategic Communications; and Jim Steed, owner of Neighborly Pest Management.

“I was inspired by the work our team was able to accomplish in Washington D.C. and look forward to the year ahead,” said Jason Payne, president of Black Ownership Matters. “Momentum is building for our organization and the populations we are striving to serve. We’re looking forward to carrying that momentum through to PestWorld this year.”

BOM will host its inaugural NPMA PestWorld 2021 meeting on Nov. 4 in Las Vegas. “Whether you are interested in starting your own business, or looking to move up in your field, we’re here to help,” said Payne. “We encourage individuals to reach out to us for guidance and support, and we welcome all Black-owned companies to join our cause.”

Black Ownership Matters is working on several projects that promote black ownership of pest control companies and advancement in the industry. The organization, founded in 2020, said it has benefited from the support of contributing companies and industry partners who have pitched in to provide both financial and in-kind support.

“We need all hands on deck to advance equity in our industry,” said Payne. “We invite everyone to visit our website (black and contact us if you are interested in getting involved. We’re looking for dedicated individuals that are interested in serving as mentors in their areas of expertise, as well as companies interested in sharing their resources and knowledge.”


Agri-Turf Golf Tournament Raises $70,000 for American Cancer Society

Left to right: Aaron Rhoderick, commercial sales and marketing manager, Tri-West; Allen Gage, president, Tri-West; Andrea Vogt, marketing manager, Agri-Turf; Kristyn Grime, community development manager, American Cancer Society–Western Region; Rich Records, president, Agri-Turf; and Lon Records, CEO, Agri-Turf.

SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. — The Agri-Turf Tri-West Seventh Annual Malcolm Stack Charity Golf Tournament, held June 3 at the Tustin Ranch Golf Club in Tustin, Calif., raised $70,000 for the American Cancer Society (ACS). In the past seven years, the tournament has raised more than $410,000 for the ACS.

After a round of 18 holes, including a $10,000 cash prize hole sponsored by Patcraft, guests attended a dinner and awards ceremony. Agri-Turf President Rich Records acknowledged event co-hosts Allen Gage and Aaron Rhoderick of Tri-West Ltd. and thanked them for their continued partnership.

Kristyn Grime, community development manager for the ACS Western Region, said, “This donation allows ACS to continue serving cancer patients and their families in Orange County. In 2020, the tournament contribution helped us serve over 650 patients in the Orange County area alone. ACS helps patients and their families with their most pressing needs such as getting rides to treatment, navigating the health-care system or dealing with the side effects of treatment.

Platinum sponsors of this year’s tournament included Bell Laboratories, MetroFlor Corporation and Paradigm Conquest. All event proceeds benefit the ACS in its mission to provide funding for cancer research and patient support services.


Hawx Services Partners with Private Equity Firm

OGDEN, Utah — Hawx Services, Ogden, Utah, completed in March a transaction with private equity firm PCM Growth. PCM Growth was founded and is led by Mike Paulus, a financial investor whose startup successes include Assurance IQ, a Seattle-based tech company he founded in 2016 and sold to Prudential Financial for $3.5 billion in 2019.

Founded in 2013 by President Matt Mehr and CEO Scott Wilson, Hawx began with one branch in Utah and has since expanded to 16 branches throughout the U.S. The company is almost exclusively residential (95 percent), providing general pest, mosquito and termite services. Hawx is a tech-savvy company whose growth has been accelerated by door-to-door sales.

“Hawx has grown rapidly by focusing on providing opportunities for our employees to grow, to nurture our customer base and focus in on that customer experience from sales all the way down through their entire service plan with us,” Mehr said.

Mehr said Hawx will expand into new geographies in the coming year, capture additional market space and “grow over the next three to four years to become one of the big players in this space.” Mehr and Wilson, as well as Hawx Chief Revenue Officer Jonathan Gleave, reached out to Lance Tullius, president of LR Tullius, a financial and mergers and acquisition advisory firm, to explore options for reaching this next level and beyond. Tullius had been in contact with Paulus, who was interested in making an entry into the pest control market.

Tullius, who said he receives numerous inquiries from private equity firms, said Paulus had done extensive research on the pest control industry and “was very efficient and laser-focused, had no capacity issues in terms of funding, and was absolutely all in.”

After selling Assurance IQ, Paulus was seeking his next venture. “I realized I love being around high-growth companies,” he said. “I love helping to disrupt and improve industries that maybe technology hasn’t had a major impact on yet.”

Hawx’s Gleave said pest control is a platform that makes sense for Paulus and PCM Growth because of past successes in the insurance industry. “I think there’s a lot of correlation between the two spaces and having had success in what they were able to do in the insurance space, they believe they can do in a similar fashion here in pest control.”

Like insurance, pest control is an industry where “if you do right by your customers and have a high level of service, then you have these really long relationships,” Paulus said. “And we saw at Assurance the way that you can use technology and superior service standards to increase the duration the customers stay with you, and it really impacts the bottom line.”

Paulus was impressed that Hawx is a company whose culture is both service-oriented and entrepreneurial. “It is a company that has been around long enough to have really learned the model and executed it across a number of locations, but it also has a very entrepreneurial management team that’s incredibly ambitious.”

The Hawx team said it is excited about how the new partnership will help the company evolve from a technology standpoint. Said Mehr, “[PCM] brings a lot of strength to the team with digital marketing and really growing that platform.” Paulus too thinks PCM’s digital expertise can help Hawx grow organically. “What I think really got us excited is the way they’ve executed the high velocity door-to-door sales component. When you combine that with digital acquisition [channels], that really rounds out the portfolio of customer acquisition assets.”

While Paulus said organic is his “first, second and third” growth strategy, he likes that Hawx and PCM are both entrepreneurial and able to move quickly, and PCM will consider acquiring other companies if the fit is right. “I like being part of a rocket ship,” he said. “There’s a lot of great companies out there that are looking to grow five or 10 percent a year. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I want folks that have a foundation, have a vision and are ready to really challenge themselves for hyper growth.”

Hawx says it is ready to take the next step of becoming a major player in the industry. “We want to be the biggest and the best pest control company we can be, and to do that you have to have a great following of customers, and you have to be able to prove that what you do works,” said CEO Wilson. “Our goals are quite lofty. We want to continue to grow our current footprint — our four major territories — and then continue to open up new branches.” — Brad Harbison