Volunteer Firefighter’s Community Involvement Drives Business Success

Pestmaster franchise

Working hand-in glove with the franchisor and becoming a visible part of the community have made Pestmaster Services a force to be reckoned with in New York’s Hudson Valley,

Paul and Amy Alley
Paul and Amy Alley

Although he grew up on the sunny beaches of Florida, Paul Alley (pictured above, right) headed to the cold northeast when it came time to build a business.  Alley had been in the pest control business since college, working as a technician for several companies in Florida, but when his father retired to  New York State, Alley decided to follow him to look for new opportunities.  After twelve years in the pest control business, he was tired of working for other people, and wanted something of his own.

Pestmaster Services, a new franchise company, which started in Nevada in 1979, was offering territories on the East Coast, and Alley saw an opportunity.  He wanted to be the first one through the door, and he was.  “We started this territory,” says Alley. “We were the first ones on the East Coast.”

Financing the Franchise

Setting up a franchise always requires capital to cover franchise fees and upfront costs for equipment, vehicles  and office space. Alley was fortunate that his father was able provide the financing.  His father’s confidence in Alley and the Pestmaster opportunity was well placed as the business grew rapidly. Within the first year, the operation expanded from one to seven employees in order to handle the orders, and within five years, Alley’s franchise was profitable.

Related: The Pros and Cons of Friends and Family Financing

Pestmaster team, Kingston, New York

Today, Pestmaster Services of Kingston  has eleven full-time employees, and annual sales of $1.6 million.  Expenses include an annual royalty paid to the franchisor, as well as fees for advertising and insurance, which is typical for franchise arrangements.  However, Alley has found there to be considerable upside to the arrangement. Pestmaster.com maintains an active in-house contract department that finds corporate and government business for its franchisees, and they were able to help Alley get a contract with West Point Military Academy, which he has had since 2001.

I would have made more mistakes without having the franchise. You buy a franchise so you won’t have to reinvent the wheel — Paul Alley

Alley has been very happy with the arrangement and says that if he was going into business today, he’d sign up with Pestmaster all over again. “I think I would have made more mistakes without having the franchise. You buy a franchise so you won’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Go the extra mile too. Do home show events, knock on doors, and make a lot of cold sales calls too. There are absolutely no shortcuts.

Pestmaster Services is a  full-service pest control business. “We do termite work, and nuisance animal control, and aquatic pesticide applications, and we do bird or aviation control, and we do bed bugs,” says Alley. In practice this means being able to extract raccoons, possums or squirrels from a homeowner’s attic or chimney, spray for termite infestations, ants, roaches, and eliminate rodents of all sizes and descriptions. As Alley says, “it requires a lot of different skills.”

Fern, the bed-bug dog

In today’s business, that means canine skills too. With the current infestation of bed bugs around the country, trained bed bug dogs have become a key part of Alley’s operation, and a way of differentiating his service from his competitors.  Alley has two dogs that he claims are more than 90% accurate in locating bed bug infestations.

Going to the Business Site Fully Prepared

Pest control is an increasing complex business requiring a wide variety of skills, techniques and tools, including a sensitivity to environmental and ecological concerns. Bundle all this together and crews must arrive at the job site with everything they might need to complete the assignment. Pestmaster’s answer to this is a fleet of Nissan cargo vans, fitted out with vehicle wraps, storage racks and ARE shelving.

I absolutely love having Nissans in my fleet. We put high mileage on them, and they just don’t break down.
Make Your Franchise a Winner by Going the Extra Mile 4
Paul Alley, Volunteer Firefighter

At one time, Alley used domestically produced vehicles, but discovered he could get a better, more reliable van from Nissan at a comparable price, and hasn’t been disappointed. Today, Pestmaster Services has a Nissan Titan, two Nissan Frontiers, a Nissan NV2500 high-top van, plus a Versa and a new Nissan Rogue. “I absolutely love having Nissans in my fleet,” says Alley. “I really don’t look at the warranty because even though we put high mileage on them — roughly 50,000 miles a year — they just don’t break down.”

Community Involvement

“I really enjoy my work and revel in being able to make someone’s pest situation better,” says Alley. This commitment to his community extends to his personal life as well. For the past 15 years, Alley has been a volunteer firefighter with the Spring Lake Fire Department in Ulster County, which means saving lives through performing CPR, rushing into burning buildings and being a first responder to automobile accidents.

Incentives For Nissan Vans

Lessons Learned

  1. Don’t buy into a business or a franchise if you don’t love it. or don’t have time for it.
  2. A franchise may be a turn-key business, but it will not grow itself. Some people think that customers will come streaming to them just because they opened their doors, but it doesn’t work like that.
  3. You have to work the franchise system to succeed. Do your advertising marketing and promotional mail-outs according to the marketing plans you’ve been given.
  4. Go the extra mile too. Be involved with the community. Give of your time; be a volunteer. Do home show events, knock on doors, and make a lot of cold sales calls too. There are absolutely no shortcuts.

Related Content

Grow Your Business by Listening to Your Customers

How to Exploit the Sweet Spot in Your Industry

Three Keys To Building A Successful Franchise

The Pros and Cons of Friends and Family Financing


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