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Pest Control for Upstate South Carolina: An Interview with Walker Pest Management

By Kristen Bosse

Please describe a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

I started this company by myself in 2001. We originally started as a lawn care provider, but made the transition to pest control in 2005. We currently have 12 employees and are a full service pest management company. We offer everything from basic termite and pest control services, to mosquito and wildlife nuisance services. We have a large residential and commercial base.

How did you get into this line of work?

I worked for a larger pest control company from 1997-2000. This is where I gained most of my experience and licensing in the industry. I had two brothers working for the same company at that time, and they are still working there at present.

What is the first thing someone should do once they suspect a pest problem in their home?

Identification is key. There are some pests a homeowner may be able to handle on their own, but many they should not. Local extension services and universities can be a great source of information, for both identification and control of the species. If the homeowner believes it is something should not or cannot handle him/herself, then call a professional. The worst thing they can do is ignore the problem. It usually will just get worse.

Are all of your technicians licensed?

Our technicians go through a three week training process, which includes state required verifiable training. They must go through this training whether they have been certified before or not. Once the training is completed they are now a "registered" technician. This is where all technicians must start, with any company in South Carolina. Our goal is to have all employees "certified," or licensed, over the course of their first year of employment. We currently have 6 of our staff that are "licensed." Only the three newest employees are not.

Is there anything your business does differently than most pest control companies?

Not necessarily. I think where we excel is in our customer service department. We have a process in place to make sure all of our customers are followed up with in a timely manner. This helps us ensure they had the best experience possible with our company. If not, this allows us a chance to correct any problems, and, hopefully, still salvage the chance to make them pleased with our service.

Will the families need to leave home during your treatment?

Only for certain treatments, such as fleas or bed bugs. We use heat for our bed bug treatments, so we must ask them to leave, since their home will be around 120 degrees for a few hours. Most of the other services we offer are not dangerous or intrusive enough to ask them to leave.

How do you know if you simply have a few spiders and ants around the house or your bug issue is a real problem?

Everyone will have a different answer to that question. It really depends on the individual's tolerance level. For some people, one spider is one too many. For others, they might see 20 throughout the house and not be bothered. It also can be a matter of safety. For instance, if a customer has one of the three widow spiders in South Carolina in their home, this may trump their tolerance level if there are small children in the home. Sometimes we just don't want to take any chances. This same philosophy holds true for most pest species. I will add that with some pests, the saying is true: "When you see one mouse, there are probably 10 you don't see." With that said, it again, depends on the species what the tolerance level should be. When in doubt, call a professional. Don't wait.

What should homeowners be looking for in a qualified pest control company?

I would recommend starting with referrals from friends. It is especially easy with social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Next, double check with the local Better Business Bureau to review complaint history and rating. Lastly, run the company name through your search engine and read different reviews from different sites, but be careful. Not all reviews are legitimate. Some may be customers with irrational expectations, and some may be written by the owners of the company. It can be hard to tell which ones are true, but the reviews can usually reveal a pattern of satisfied customers verses buyer's remorse.

What are some tips to help prevent bed bugs from entering your home?

Don't travel and never have anyone over! Seriously, though, bed bugs travel on people and their belongings. Travel definitely increases the risk of bed bug exposure, but bed bugs are popping up in everyday places, such as taxi cabs and movie theaters. Inspection is key. Always inspect the edges of the mattresses and bedroom furniture when staying overnight in a new location. Also, inspect personal belongings when returning home, and run clothes through a dryer cycle. The heat will kill the bed bugs in all stages of their life cycle. Again, when in doubt, don't wait, and call a professional. Most companies will inspect your home for free.

Once the new homeowner moves in, are there any precautions they should take relating to pest control within the first couple weeks?

Checking with the previous owners about the pest control history can be very helpful. Still, I would recommend inspecting the home for pests before moving in. I would be especially cautious about buying a home with furnishings, as this can be harborage for unseen pests. As stated before, most companies will perform pest inspections for free. If you do not feel confident in your own inspection techniques, have a professional come out. This can head off problems before you get settled into your new home.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

We have a website at www.walkerpestmanagement.com. This contains all of our phone numbers, and our mailing address. I prefer to speak with people over the phone so I am able to answer all of their questions, but we have an email option through the site as well.

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Kristen has written impressive content including press releases and feature stories...

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