This issue of PCT contains the 20th edition of the Top 100. Twenty years of revenue numbers, posters and company profiles in PCT. Twenty years of mergers and acquisitions announcements, new companies and leaders, and different pests and services offered. Twenty years of changes and 20 years of things that are thankfully still the same.

I’ve been working on the Top 100 for all of those 20 years and as I reflected back to write this column, so many clichés came to mind that really ring true for the industry and the Top 100 over the past two decades:

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats. In its early days, the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA) regularly used this phrase (and still does) to describe what happens when demand for services and industry revenue increases. But the sentiment really applies to the Top 100 too. Think about it. If a $50 million company purchases a $6 million company, three things happen on the Top 100. First, the larger company adds revenue and may move up on the list (just how much will be determined by how well they maintain those accounts). Second, the purchased company falls off the list. Third, a new company joins the list to take the spot of the acquired company and everyone else “bumps up.” As the big companies get bigger, so too does the Top 100. There are 15 companies on this list that weren’t on last year’s, which is a sign of both industry growth and continued M&A activity.

Pest Control is Recession Proof. (And Maybe Pandemic Proof?) Despite a worldwide pandemic and a decreased U.S. GDP of 3.5 percent in 2020, the pest management industry as a whole grew 2.9 percent last year, according to Specialty Consultants. And on the Top 100, 83 companies reported growth last year.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same. What was the most critical component of your business in 2002? What is it today? (I bet it’s the same.) Your team is your company’s most important asset. And while the pests may have changed a bit (bed bugs and backyard mosquito control come to mind), the industry’s enduring tenet is the same as it was 20 years ago: that we are protectors of public health and property.

The first Top 100 was published in 2002, and was based on 2000’s revenues. So what has changed since then? Technology, of course, is a whole new ballgame, for you and for PCT. (To compile that inaugural list, we faxed companies the Top 100 form!) Companies are more professional, productivity is better and there are more consumers using our services.

Over the past 20 Top 100 lists, we’ve profiled and featured news from more than 160 companies. The idea behind those articles is to share information that Top 100 firms have learned with the rest of the industry. This issue is no exception. We hope you are able to take some nuggets from these stories to implement at your company.

I’m not sure what the next 20 years will bring to the professional pest management industry. Increased M&A activity seems to be a given. Invasive pests will continue to show up in unexpected places. Public health pests, like mosquitoes and ticks, will continue to make headlines in the consumer press, prompting calls from homeowners. And on the commercial side, trends like blockchain and remote monitoring will require the industry to keep its recordkeeping in tip-top shape.

Pest control companies aren’t being built like they used to be. Years ago, it took an entire generation (or more) to build a company that topped six figures. Multiple generations of family members worked at the company, which was handed down from parents to children. Many companies are different today. Wealth is being built much faster and through non-traditional means. Large pest management companies, and even investors from outside the industry, are raising capital to become a part of what you have always known — that the pest management industry, in addition to helping people every day, is based on a recurring revenue model that when executed correctly, creates an income that can support generations of families.

All types of companies are on this year’s Top 100 list. Congratulations to them all!

The author is editor-in-chief of PCT.