Bill Grizer first came to love castles when he was 8 years old. While watching the 1968 film “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” with his mother, Grizer was fascinated when the characters swooped down in their flying car over the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. He told his mother he wanted a castle just like it.
“You can’t have that castle, but if you work hard and save your money, someday you can build you own castle,” his mother told him. Since that conversation, Grizer said, “that’s been a dream of mine.”
BUILDING BUSINESS FIRST. While he dreamed of ways to bring the castle he envisioned to life, Grizer worked at building his own pest control business. In 1986 Grizer started a one-man operation in Whipple, Ohio, and named it Modern Pest Control.
“I guess I started in pest control because I had a pure hatred for bugs when I was a kid,” Grizer said. “I always hated bugs, and pest control is something I’ve enjoyed. I love going out to houses.”
Helping people is a big reason why Grizer loves his work as a technician. He recalled a time when he was treating a family’s apartment in Columbus, Ohio, and a young girl living there asked Grizer if he was going to kill the cockroaches so they wouldn’t crawl across her face when she was sleeping.
Grizer promised that he would. “I thought if that was my little girl, I didn’t want bugs crawling across my kids’ faces. And as I got to know people, I wasn’t just an exterminator. I was like a counselor, too.”
Grizer said working in the pest control industry and forming these relationships with his customers has helped him become an effective communicator with all types of people.
“It helped me deal with people one-on-one, taught me how to be able to address any issues, how to correct a problem, and explain to people what I’m going to do and walk through their house and talk to them,” Grizer said. “I always enjoyed the direct personal contact that I had with the customers because most of the people I don’t call customers. I don’t even call them clients. They’re friends.”
So by day, Grizer built Modern Pest Control as a friendly, hardworking technician and saved his money. By night, he collected supplies for the castle he planned to build — from wood trim, to sandstones, to cement blocks.
“It got to a point where I told the wife and kids, I’m either going to buy myself a new truck, or we’re going to build a castle. I was like what do you guys want to do?” Grizer asked.
He was excited when their response was, “Let’s start building a castle!” So he began planning the castle of his childhood dreams: Grizer Castle.
BUILDING BEGINS. This castle is actually the second that Grizer has built. His first is the home he currently lives in. “We built some towers off of each side of it, and I stoned the front of it. But I just was not happy with that. I told the wife, I’m going to have to do something else,” Grizer said.
Construction for Grizer Castle began in 2014, but Grizer said it really started in 1973 when he was 8 years old and his aunt gave him a couple of concrete blocks to begin his castle.
“Then, when I was 16, I would be driving around town or coming home from school and I’d see people would be tearing down a house, I’d go ask the guy if I could grab some blocks when they were done. I started saving concrete blocks throughout my lifetime,” he said.
All of those blocks now sit in the walls of Grizer Castle.
“I’m so proud. I can actually point out different concrete blocks to you and tell you where that block came from, when that block was laid and who laid that block because those are special blocks,” Grizer said.
During the years of construction, Grizer said the most challenging part was juggling time between doing pest control and building the castle. Yet despite all the extra hours he had to work, Grizer never shied away from his responsibilities as a technician at Modern Pest Control.
“I would go and (treat) from seven in the morning until five or six in the evening, and then I would go out to the castle,” Grizer said. “Me and my brother-in-law, we would have three hours of daylight left, and we might be able to lay 350 or 400 blocks before it got dark. Then we would work weekends to get as much as possible done.”
Grizer expects to officially open the castle this summer; the long hours and hard work have been worth the wait, he said.
LIFE WITH A CASTLE. Grizer has taken over the day-to-day operation of the castle now that it is close to opening. The property will be used as a wedding venue, a place for birthday parties or any type of event people want to organize.
“It’ll be a place for people just to come, and they don’t have to spend a dime,” Grizer said. “It’ll be a place for people to bring their kids. Just a good spot for people to have fun.”
In addition to the castle itself, there are 80 acres of land where people can park their cars, go for a picnic, walk along the three-mile walking trail, and pitch a tent and camp or fish at the nearby pond.
So far, Grizer said the most rewarding part of building Grizer Castle has been seeing families come out, especially the children, and enjoy what he worked so hard to create.
“I have bunches of little pieces of stone that I’ve saved, and I give them to the children when I come out, and I let them know that this is the first piece of their castle.”
With work almost complete, Grizer will be handling most of the responsibilities there while his daughter and two sons take care of Modern Pest Control. But having a castle does not mean Grizer is giving up his job as a PCO.
“I couldn’t neglect my obligations as an exterminator. I’ve been an exterminator for 33 years,” Grizer said. He’s even converting one of the towers in Grizer Castle into a pest control office.
“I’ve saved old pest control containers and old mouse traps, and I’ve got a lot of old pest control equipment to have on display for people to see,” Grizer said. “That’s what made the castle come true, was being an exterminator. I’m still going to be an exterminator, but now I’ll wear a crown when I spray.”