For Hunter Ford, pest control is more than a business. As a third-generation owner/operator of Atlantic Pest and Termite Management, Inc., Charleston, South Carolina, he’s justifiably proud of the business’s longevity, the service he provides, and the company’s reputation within the community.
“Our business opened in 1942,” he says. “So we have long-standing relationships with a lot of the people here in the community. Customers that my grandfather served, that my dad or my uncle served, we’re still serving some of them and even some of their children. And we’ve been able to maintain those relationships because we provide a service they know they need.”
These days, that service includes helping home and business owners overcome one of the most fearsome wood-destroying pests – Formosan termites. With colonies potentially numbering over 1 million, Formosan termites can do major damage quickly, especially in Charleston’s subtropical environment.
“Their strength really is in their numbers,” he says. “It’s not that any one Formosan termite can destroy more wood than a native Eastern subterranean termite. It’s just that in a Formosan termite colony, there are so many more of them. They can consume more wood, more quickly, just because of the sheer number of them.”
But even the sheer numbers associated with Formosan termite colonies don’t reveal the extent of their threat. Aerial colonies, a favored attack pattern of the Formosan termite, can make treatment and colony elimination a challenge.
“When you’re dealing with an aerial infestation and you can’t figure out where they’re getting water, that can be extremely difficult,” he says. “And if you disturb them, they’ll avoid that area; so you could peel a wall back, make a treatment, put it all back together thinking you got them, and then six months later, they’re popping out of a wall somewhere else.”
The other big challenge? Handling calls from panicked customers.
“We’ve become really good at fielding swarm-related phone calls,” Ford says. “We help them understand what to expect when they’re dealing with termites. It’s a frustrating situation for the homeowner, I get it. But dealing with someone who understands what the treatment process involves is so much easier than dealing with a customer who just wants to be angry about the whole thing.”
And while Atlantic’s proven expertise and long-standing reputation within the community helps them handle anxious customers, his go-to treatment – Recruit® AG FlexPack® bait stations – gives Ford and his technicians the tools they need to approach any infestation with confidence.
“I haven’t had a single re-emergence after treatment with the Recruit AG stations,” Ford says. “That gives us the confidence we need to go into a situation knowing we can handle it. That’s peace of mind for our customers and for me personally, and it’s a huge benefit for the business. Using Sentricon is a lot more cost-effective than standard liquid treatments; it’s less labor-intensive, and it’s easier on the employees.”
By allowing CSSs to treat aerial colonies in hard-to-reach locations, infestations can be addressed where they occur. And because Sentricon is undetectable by termites, their own feeding patterns are used against them. The colony elimination process starts immediately after the first worker feeds on the bait.
“A lot of times when you apply a termiticide to an active termite tube, they’ll avoid the treated area and just build new tubes to go around it,” Ford says. “But I’ve seen them build what looks to be carton material inside the bait stations, so that tells me they really can’t detect the active ingredient.”
Although the goal of any termite treatment is obviously elimination of the colony, Ford says Sentricon offers his business and his customers other tangible benefits beyond just termite control.
“Being able to offer customers a one-time treatment, without hitting them every five years with a big re-treatment cost, that’s done a lot,” he says. “And I think it’s key that customers can see the product work; they can see the stations, they see our technicians coming in to check them, they see that they’re getting something for the money. That has a lot of value.”
Ultimately, Ford says the effectiveness and reliability of the Sentricon system and the Recruit AG bait stations have helped him approach even the toughest jobs – and customers – with assurance.
“I have no doubts whatsoever about the product. I can talk to that customer, let them know what to expect, and as we go through that process, what happens is exactly what I told them would happen. I’ve just seen Recruit AG bait work too many times; I believe in it.”
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