For Arrow Exterminators’ Wallace Taylor, PCT’s 2020 Commercial Technician of the Year, providing an exceptional pest control experience all comes down to customer service.
“It just so happens we take care of pests, but first we take care of our customers,” said Taylor. It’s his mantra when he services restaurants, offices, nightclubs, condominiums and even a MLB stadium in The Battery and Buckhead areas of Atlanta.
“Wallace has done extremely well there. He’s very particular, and he wants to be sure everything is done properly,” said Tim Pollard, president and COO of Arrow Exterminators. “He’s always run a great route, and has handled some of our top accounts as a commercial service professional.”
As a frequently requested technician, Taylor’s high-end clients are consistently impressed with his work and they rave about his demeanor.
“My thought process was that route is a PR route,” Taylor said in reference to the MLB stadium. “Everything is about public relations. Once you get that down, the pest control is simple. You have to be ready to provide service and solve problems, because these type of clients want things done yesterday.”
SKILLED COMMUNICATOR. In addition to quick problem solving, Taylor also places a premium on building a rapport with everyone he comes in contact with while on the job. Whether it’s executives, managers, hourly employees or condominium residents, Taylor is completely at ease having a conversation with them.
“That’s what I would tell you about Wallace,” said Pollard. “He’s just so engaging. I love just to talk with him, and he’s that way with his customers.”
Taylor doesn’t inundate customers with technical jargon; rather he keeps them updated as questions arise. While some customers are hands off, trusting Taylor to get the job done, others become more and more eager to learn about his work.
Part of Taylor’s regular route includes servicing a condominium complex. He remembered one woman whose condo he has been treating for many years. Taylor has had the chance to watch her now four-year-old son grow up from a baby. At his most recent visit, the woman’s son had been waiting for Taylor to arrive, ready to talk about bugs.
“He was just so excited to show me all the things he learned. His mom said, ‘You wouldn’t believe how he’s been looking forward to this moment,’” Taylor said. “That was the most exciting thing ever. I’ve watched this kid grow up, and I made an impact on this four-year-old.”
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS. Taylor’s journey to becoming a commercial pest control technician began in rural Georgia. Growing up, Taylor’s father was a sharecropper and his mother was a seamstress. He was an only child, but with his mom’s family nearby — she’s the second oldest of 13 siblings — it was anything but a small family.
Right after high school, Taylor joined the U.S. Army, serving seven years while traveling to South Carolina, Texas and Germany. He then decided to move back to Georgia and settled in Atlanta, where he began doing light mechanical work.
FINDING PEST CONTROL. In 1999, a shake up in the industrial industry spurred Taylor to find a new job. By chance, he found the right opportunity at the right time at a pest control company. “I saw an ad but it didn’t say what the company did,” Taylor said. “I didn’t recognize what it was until I walked in for the interview.”
At that interview, Taylor realized pest control could become more than a job; it could be a career. Taylor worked as a manager trainee and then a branch manager for nearly 10 years, where he succeeded by waking up early, working hard and putting in the hours until the job was done. But with the headquarters of that company in a different state, Taylor found himself looking for a more tight-knit workplace. In 2010, he found that community at Arrow Exterminators.
“Arrow’s CEO, Emily Thomas Kendrick, is the most exciting person to have a conversation with. I’ve never seen her in a dull moment when she’s not excited about something. And that excitement is infectious, with every executive down the line,” said Taylor. “She treats you as a friend, and that means something. You’re not a number, you’re somebody and that means something.”
Although his interview at Arrow didn’t start how he expected, Taylor knew he wanted to be a part of the company. “I interviewed for a management position but they didn’t have one available,” he said. “I got home and thought about it for a little bit and I said, ‘You know what, I’ll take whatever you have.’”
Arrow had a residential technician job available, which he took. He worked his way to residential service manager, and then to commercial technician.
WHAT’S NEXT? Just two weeks prior to finding out he’d been named PCT’s Commercial Technician of the Year, Taylor was accepted into Arrow’s Manager Training Academy.
“We started this academy last year, and we’re looking to take folks that are already doing well within the company and progressing,” said Pollard. “It’s a full-time academy, and when they graduate, they become a manager.”
Although Taylor misses seeing his customers in the field, he has the opportunity to do something else he’s passionate about — teaching.
“I love teaching more than anything,” said Taylor. “I look at it a lot like being a parent. Every child is different. You need to find out what their differences are and meet them where they are. If you meet them where they are they’re more likely to come along with you.”