Cute bed bug-detecting dogs might have gotten Action Termite & Pest Control’s name out there. But the family-owned business didn’t double in size and grow to four offices in southern New Jersey without being darn good at what they do.
Getting a dog in order to be better was exactly what founder Richard F. Russell had in mind when he brought New Jersey’s first bed-bug sniffing dog into the business in 2007.
The goal was to get faster at sniffing out the bed bugs that, at the time, were infesting much of the mid-Atlantic seaboard. But Sarah, a black lab with 500 hours of training, did more than just speed up how many private homes and facilities Action could service. She also got the company national attention.
A mom-and-pop shop was exactly what Action Termite & Pest Control had been since Russell’s father, Richard F., started the business as a part-time thing in 1971. He didn’t even hire his first employee until four years later.
And while the company has grown in leaps and bounds since then — today, there are 45 employees — it’s still family owned and operated, with 82-year-old Richard F. Russell clocking in most days, and his four sons, including current president John Russell, running most of the business. There’s even a granddaughter putting in time too.
Though Action Termite & Pest Control may be bigger than your average mom-and-pop shop these days, the company hasn’t lost the traditional values for which smaller businesses are known.
“My dad constantly beat into us how the customer is always right,” John said. “You have to take care of your customers. We do a lot of work in senior developments and you have to do honest, fair work to get the respect of the senior community.”
Getting people’s respect and helping them is what makes the job rewarding, John and his brother, vice president of sales and marketing, Michael Russell said.
“I remember one time we were doing a housing authority and there was an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair,” Michael said. “We brought in the dog and we discovered bed bugs running up the walls, on the chair where he ate. But even worse there were bed bugs covering his wheelchair. To be able to take care of a situation like that, to make sure it’s rid of bugs felt pretty darn good.”
With summer underway there are a number of insects people should watch out for.
First, it’s the end of spring carpenter bee season, but they pick up again in August. These bees are fond of the dead wood in homes and can do a lot of damage. If you see yellow stains on the wood around your house, you’ve got a problem.
Other common summer pests are stinging insects.
“What people should know is not to swat these,” John warned. “Once you’ve swatted at a bee, it releases a pheromone that tells other bees there’s danger in the area and the response is to sting whatever is nearby … Leave it be.”
Action Termite & Pest Control has offices in Toms River, Red Bank, South Toms River and will be opening a new office in Turnersville in August. Services include residential and commercial pest control including wood destroying insects like termites and carpenter ants, stinging insects, beetles and crickets, mice and rodents, and even wildlife like birds, squirrels, and more.
For more information, visit www.actionpestcontrol.com or call (800) 920-0906.