Midstate celebrates 60 years in pest control
Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013
Many small businesses either get bought or close their doors. So it’s quite a feat when one survives that long and stays in the founding family.
This year, Midstate Termite and Pest Control celebrates 60 years as a family owned and operated business in an industry where small pest control companies come and go in a matter of a few years.
“We plan on being around a lot longer,” said Randy Adcock, Midstate’s current family owner.
Now on its third family member as an owner, the company has thrived despite increased competition and state and federal regulations on the pest control industry. In that past year, the company pushed the cutting the edge by becoming one of a handful of pest control companies in the country to go paperless.
Midstate now has 16 employees, 12 of them technicians, an office in Crossville and nascent plans to open another office.
It’s all a far cry from 1953 when local entrepreneur Benton Young founded the company, the first licensed pest control in Middle Tennessee to serve the Upper Cumberland. Midtate was the 83rd pest control company ever licensed in the state.
“Benton was a really unique man,” Adcock said. “He was a great entrepreneur.”
Young had many other ventures in Cookeville such as the first bowling alley and the first drive-in theater.
“He was great at starting a business but not so great at running them,” Adcock said with a laugh.
Young later sold the business to his nephew Morgan Young. Adcock started with the company in the 1980s as a technician and later married Morgan Young’s daughter. In the late 1990s, they started the process of buying the business from Morgan.
Adcock said his goal all along was to set the company up to grow and be able to handle that growth while not sacrificing customer service. After years of serving Crossville, for example, Midstate established an office there.
Customer service is paramount at Midstate. “It’s what we do to set ourselves apart from the franchise pest control companies,” Adcock said. “Our technicians are the main face of the company in front of the customer.”
One of the ways the company sought to improve customer care was going paperless and giving each technician an electronic tablet.
“That handheld really adds to our ability to educate the customer,” Adcock said. “While the technician is inspecting the house, the customer can sit and watch a video on the tablet about treatments and insects.”
Over the years, the company has had to contend with a vast increase in the complexity of treating homes and businesses for bugs.
“In 1986 when was first working here, we used four chemicals,” Adcock said. “Now we have 150.”
There has been a shift in environmental regulations and how companies choose to have their chemicals rated for different bugs. For example, the EPA no longer allows a chemical used 60 years ago to protect a home from termites for 20-plus years. Now it’s a chemical that is changed out every 10 years.
There’s been an increase in incidences of bed bugs because of changes in treatment. A chemical that had been used to kill ants and bed bugs now is used to only kill ants.
“When there are changes, we simply adjust and train our technicians,” Adcock said.
The Great Recession didn’t hit the business as hard as others in the industry. Adcock said that the company’s revenues have continued to grow.
“Our goal is consistent, steady growth,” he said. “We shoot for 5-10 percent each year.”
And as it happens in any industry, Midstate has had its fair share of suitors seeking to buy the company.
“It’s not about money,” Adcock said. “It’s about the employees here and their families. We don’t want to see our company eaten up by others.”