Pest control door knockers hear “no” a lot. Even for the thickest skinned, hearing that word can be deflating.
But Armor Pest Defense Chief Financial Officer Shon Gregersen, who knocked on doors while on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was able to take it in stride when he got his pest control start knocking on doors in Las Vegas.
“Pest control is a way easier ‘no’ to take than getting told ‘no’ for Jesus,” he said. “Almost all of the [Armor] partners have been on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints somewhere. And I’ll bet two-thirds of our sales reps are all return missionaries. It’s our culture.”
Armor, which is No. 90 on this year’s Top 100 list, got its start in 2010 when Gregersen and his brother-in-law Morgan Spillet (who is still a partner in the company) knocked on doors for another pest control company to make money, and decided they could go into business for themselves. In the fall of 2010, the duo moved to Phoenix, and with some backing from his dad Jerry, who serves as Armor’s CEO, started securing accounts.
“[Spillet] was the first salesman, I was the first technician, we split office duties together,” Gregersen said. “We had like 2,400 accounts our first season.”
Since then, all via door-to-door sales, Armor has expanded to about 18,000 customers across five markets: Denver; Phoenix; Kansas City, Kan.; Columbus, Ohio; and Oklahoma City. Each market has an owner/partner, sales representatives and technicians, but there are no offices, which made weathering a pandemic that put limitations on in-person work easier.
“We started with an office in Phoenix, Denver and Oklahoma, and we realized we’re paying office rent, we’re paying phone lines, we’re just wasting ridiculous amounts of money,” Gregersen said. “We shut down all the offices, which was unheard of in the industry.”
Gregersen’s company relies on suppliers shipping products directly to technicians’ homes, and there are a lot of virtual meetings and training sessions, so the company is still tight-knit. Pre-pandemic, they got together as a group for an annual golf outing and will hit the links again soon as conditions allow.
“Tied into the golf trip, [suppliers] will come in and do specific trainings for our technicians,” Gregersen said.
Gregersen credits technicians, Armor’s sales staff and owners/partners, including Adam Sellars, Braxton Peterson and Scott Peterson, as the reason they’ve been able to expand. But the company, which services primarily residential accounts, tries to keep its offerings fresh. About a year ago, it switched from power sprayers, which Armor had used since 2010, to backpack sprayers, which allows technicians to provide more targeted and specific treatments.
If a customer reports scorpions, spiders or crickets, for example, technicians can create a treatment plan more geared toward eliminating the specific pest. “We can specifically treat for that pest rather than saying, ‘We got 50 gallons in the truck. We’ll dump it on and see what it kills,’ ” Gregersen said.
This year is Armor’s second on the Top 100 list, and Gregersen is expecting big things for 2021. His youngest brother Nate will become a partner in the company, joining another brother Chris in Oklahoma City.
“It wasn’t intentional for it to be all family, but our family does really well in pest control,” Gregersen said. “We’re salesmen, and so it’s worked out really well that way.”