Fear of the brown-recluse spider
About 17 years ago, Mike Patton decided to take his two decades of experience working for someone else in termite and pest control, and strike out on his own.
It wasn’t an easy decision, he said, especially with four children to support.
But his wife, Lora, gave him the confidence to start Patton Termite & Pest, which today has 20 employees, including his oldest daughter and a son-in-law.
“My wife has been my strongest ally, really,” he said, adding that they started the company in the basement of their home. “She encouraged me and supported me.”
The business provides commercial and residential pest control and is certified in environmentally friendly termite treatments, Patton said. Its commercial clients include Friends University and the Sedgwick County Zoo.
Patton attributes growth of the company over the years to staying on top of the latest advances in termite and pest control, a “great staff” and “good, old-fashioned, quality customer service.”
Growth also came through acquisition of a competitor in 2014, which he said was a big risk for the company because of the impact on its cash flow. He said a good relationship with the company’s banker allowed the company to come through that acquisition bigger and stronger.
He said that the company’s success has come through active participation in professional associations such as the National Pest Management Association, networking in business groups such as the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, and consulting with advisers, including early on seeking help from the Service Corps of Retired Executives.
“I learned that being a part of the chamber and other associations just light the way,” Patton said.
Q: Best business advice you have received:
A. Your three most important allies are your banker, your lawyer and your accountant. Choose them and use them well.
Q. Best business advice you have given:
A. Learn from other successful business people and do that through associations, clubs. And never stop learning from them.
Q. What sets your company apart?
A. I think it’s a commitment to excellence and being informed of the newest technology and putting into effect best business practices.
Q. What have you learned about your company by going through this process?
A. It kind of helped me focus on the stages of development we went through: startup, which is extremely difficult, becoming a viable organization and maturation.
Q. Why do you prefer to run your own business as opposed to working for someone else?
A. For me, it’s the opportunity to be creative, have a vision and a dream, and see that come to fruition.
Q. How has your business changed in the digital age?
A. Just the Internet and then the communication, internal and external. … (But) in the end, ultimately it’s the guy in the field that’s protecting our health and property.
Q. What’s your company’s next goal?
A. We’d like to buy a building, find our own space. The second thing is we’d like to double our market penetration in the next five to 10 years. (And) I’m looking for an exit strategy. I want to be out of here before I’m 70 and enjoy life.
Name of business: Patton Termite & Pest
Year founded: 1999
Owners: Mike and Lora Patton
Address: 7570 W. 21st St., Suite 1026C