About 10 years ago, Jeff Gill, a man with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, started a nationwide franchising business specializing in hard surface restoration. He still runs the company, but now he’s entered the pest control industry with Germinator Mobile Sanitizing. The franchised business is based in the Atlanta suburb of Cumming, Ga., and features technology uniquely capable of killing bed bugs, lice and germs, he said.

The Germinator is a sealed, sanitizing chamber mounted on a truck.
Gill said his new business uses an innovative, environmentally friendly process that administers ozone and heat to eliminate bed bugs, lice, germs, bacteria, and pet and smoke odors. Ozone, approved by EPA, is an antimicrobial agent that sanitizes items in enclosed space when used properly. Ozone also can be used to eliminate common allergens such as dust mites. According to Gill, ozone also can be part of flood remediation efforts to dry and eliminate the possibility of musty smells, mold and mildew. Additionally, Germinator has been used to kill lice and germs in day-care centers.

EXPANDING INTO PEST CONTROL. “I was aware of the technology and the fact that it was used on a very small scale. So we kicked around the idea of expanding it to pest control applications, and I did some serious thinking, research and evaluation,” said Gill. The end results were positive and prompted Gill to create the new company.

“To say the current state of germ elimination is antiquated would understate the problem. Ridding the environment filled with harmful viruses and bacteria has been a hassle that has only caused even more concern. We believe the Germinator vividly demonstrates a breakthrough technology that redefines the concept of healthy living spaces. It uses a convenient, safe and 100 percent organic method that sanitizes virtually any item in homes, hospitals, schools, offices, etc. I believe it’s truly a game-changing innovation.”

Gill said a study performed at the University of Georgia proved the efficacy of the 6-year-old Germinator technology. That study found it eliminates 99.9 percent of viruses and harmful bacteria.

SEALED SANITIZING CHAMBER. The Germinator is a sealed, sanitizing chamber mounted on a truck. “When pests and germs invade a structure, that causes quite a problem,” he said. “But any infested material within that structure that’s put into the mobile chamber will be sanitized and deodorized within 30 minutes or so without the use of any chemicals. Typically, mattresses, blankets, rugs, curtains, sports equipment, toys, etc., can be placed in the mechanically sealed and locked sanitizing cell. Once the process is completed, the items can be returned to their proper places.”

Gill asked the manufacturer to build a “giant sized” chamber for a truck to enable a PCO to sanitize large items. “For its pest control application, the 14 feet high by 9 feet wide-sized Germinator chamber utilizes heat to kill bed bugs and lice efficiently. This process is far better than heat treatments currently used by PCOs to kill bed bugs,” he said.

THE DIFFERENCE. “The difference between what we do with the Germinator and what is done with conventional heat treatments is speed. It takes several hours for conventional treatments to heat a room to 120°F or higher,” Gill said. “That’s the killing range for bed bugs and lice. It also involves several hours of work to insulate the space so the heat can’t escape, and the target temperature can be maintained for several hours. The Germinator, however, reaches 140°F in about 30 minutes and can maintain that temperature indefinitely, making it the ultimate bug-killing machine. At that temperature you can kill bed bugs and lice in a fraction of the time it takes to do a conventional heat set up.”

Items such as mattresses and sofas are sanitized in the mechanically sealed and locked sanitizing cell.

While infested items are being treated in the Germinator, the PCO on the job has “a clear shot” at eliminating pests with a chemical treatment, he said. “An empty room is a lot easier to treat than one filled with furniture and other items. Since chemical treatment is quick, it can be completed while the Germinator is doing its job. The time and money saved by PCOs can be significant. And, they can still charge a premium for the service because the end result is the same — dead bed bugs but with faster kill accomplished.”

BUSINESS MODEL. “Our current model involves renting the Germinator to PCOs by the hour. This allows them the luxury of using technology to make money without having to invest in the purchase of a truck,” Gill says.

In the future, Gill is looking to franchise the business. “We plan to sell franchises to select PCOs in major cities who will then use the Germinator technology for their business while also renting their truck to other PCOs. They will be the only PCO in their area who will own the technology. It’s a great way for them to capture additional revenues on work performed by other PCOs in their area. Since the Germinator will also be a revenue producer for the PCO who’s renting the truck, it becomes a win-win for both companies.”

Gill is currently offering the rental of the Germinator to PCOs in the Atlanta market. “Here we provide an experienced Germinator operator to handle all of the truck operations so PCOs don’t have to learn how to operate the machine or worry about being trained on the technology,” he said. “He will bring the truck on site and operate the Germinator through as many cycles as the PCO deems necessary. We operate as a subcontractor under a PCO’s license, since our company is not a licensed PCO.”

ON THE MOVE. In New York City, Gill contracted with PCO Mike Nihill to develop business opportunities in the area. Nihill, owner of Attack Exterminating, is a bed bug expert and strong advocate of innovation through new technology. “That’s really my guiding light in business,” he said.

Nihill learned about Gill’s offerings from a business associate and was intrigued by the technology and the significant business opportunities offered by the Germinator technology. “I then went to Atlanta to meet with Gill and brought a collection of bed bugs with me to observe and evaluate the Germinator myself,” Nihill said. “Jeff demonstrated it for me several times and I saw it in action, killing my bed bugs within 30 minutes on furniture we put into the chamber. It was extremely effective. The whole sanitizing procedure was clean and orderly.”

Nihill said he was convinced that the Germinator process would provide “peace of mind” to customers who experience the normal anxiety caused by bed bug infestations. “Peace of mind is what we always strive to provide our pest control customers.”

Nihill has contracted with Gill to develop business in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut tri-state area — either as a distributor or a franchisee. “I’m enthusiastic about the future of this new business opportunity in our industry,” he said.

The author has been writing about the pest management industry for more than 30 years. Email him at jfox@gie.net.

To learn more, visit www.thegerminator.com.