In honor of Women’s History Month to celebrate the contributions of women throughout our nation’s history, we sat down with three women who have been changing the game in the pest control industry for more than two decades.
Although women make up more than 50 percent of the labor force, they are significantly underrepresented in the skilled trades. In fact, women comprise just six percent of pest control workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Women Transforming the Workforce
Jessie Jones has worked at Scherzinger Pest Control for the past 25 years and has watched the industry transform over the course of her career. Unsurprisingly, when Jessie was first starting out, customers would call and ask for a man to help them. “They were surprised when the woman answering the phone was a licensed technician who would do everything possible to get them the information they need,” said Jessie. Fast forward to now and Jessie is a well-respected lead field support who is extremely valued by both her customers and colleagues.
Wendy Richmond, a universal route technician at Scherzinger, emphasized that customers consistently request to speak with Jessie because she has established a loyal customer base who appreciate her capabilities. “We all benefit from Jessie’s knowledge and expertise,” said Wendy.
Wendy described the transformation she has witnessed while working in pest control the past 22 years: “My male counterparts have learned to respect and really embrace the hard work of female technicians.” Over time, Wendy has noticed an increase in the representation of women at Scherzinger and within the industry more broadly.
Wendy was trained by long-time staff member Diane Havey-Pangallo, a universal route technician who has been with Scherzinger for 26 years. Diane said that as a woman in pest control, she has had to prove herself over and over again – and has succeeded happily. “Throughout my time in the field, I’ve learned how to develop trust by demonstrating my extensive knowledge base with others.”
The pest control industry has gone through substantial growth since the founding of Scherzinger in 1934. “Over the years, I’ve watched the company grow from around 20 technicians to almost 100,” said Jessie. It is no wonder that pest control is expected to grow faster than the average for all other trade and skilled work occupations.
Throughout their careers, Jessie, Wendy and Diane have experienced many positive changes in the world of pest control, including the increase in environmentally friendly treatment solutions and improving technologies to better serve customers. “In pest control, I am not restricted to one set of materials to solve a pest problem. I have an arsenal of tools with a wide array of solutions,” said Wendy.
A Rewarding Career
As tenured pest professionals, Jessie, Wendy and Diane shared what they love about working in pest control and what has kept them in the industry for so long. “I have had at least five different positions since joining Scherzinger,” said Jessie. “What keeps me around are my wonderful colleagues, enjoying the field of work I’m in and going home each night knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life that day.” Each time she had a chance to switch positions within the company, she embraced the change as a way to learn multiple aspects of the field.
When asked why they love pest control, all three women used the same word: rewarding. Diane explained, “In the field of pest control it is so rewarding that every day you get to go home knowing you helped someone.” She expressed her love for attracting newcomers to the industry and training the future workforce, saying, “It’s fun for me because I love to educate others. It has been my privilege to help my colleagues train and watch them grow in their careers.” Wendy also feels that an important service pest control professionals provide is education, passing along tips and tricks that are only acquired with experience.
Wendy expressed her love for working in a rewarding position. “They say if you find a career you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Well, I love my customers. I love my colleagues. And hey, a company vehicle is always nice too!” She encourages potential job seekers who are looking for a position where they can take care of others to consider working in pest control. “If you are a woman who loves being outdoors, working with your hands and is good with people, this is the job for you!”
Building Lasting Relationships
Both Diane and Wendy emphasize how pest control is a people business. “In this field, I’m never lonely. We constantly work together by brainstorming ideas together and offering one another advice on how to best remedy the situation,” said Diane. They also express how using good communication skills to engage with customers is essential to thriving in their jobs.
Jessie says that Diane and Wendy are more than just universal technicians to the people they serve: “They are willing to go the extra mile for each of their customers.” Not only do they provide their company services on specific routes, but they have also become a part of the community. Wendy recalled multiple times when they went above and beyond to watch out for their area, like last week when Diane found a lost puppy and brought him home or when Wendy escorted an elderly woman who had been injured last year. “On top of the great pest services we provide, we know our customer’s birthdays and anniversaries,” said Wendy. “I have keys and lock codes to people’s homes and even customers who welcome me in their homes while they are on vacation with complete trust,” said Diane.
To Jessie, Wendy and Diane, pest control is more than just a job. As powerful women in pest control, they have contributed to the evolution of this skilled trade and developed a true passion in the process. With flexible and family-friendly work hours, competitive compensation and benefits, a variety of stable, long-term career options and an opportunity to grow in your career, pest control is a great option for women in the career search. If you are a woman who is interested in joining the field, you can learn more at PestControlJobs.com.