When he began working in the pest control industry in 2001, Luke Rambo didn’t enter the field with the goal of starting his own business. Instead, he was simply looking for a change from his then grocery store job he’d held since high school.
“I literally opened the phonebook and landed on the pest control page,” he says of how he found his way into the pest business. But after working in the field for five years, his focus shifted once his son was born in 2006.
“There was a bit of frustration with working for someone, and I had a new baby at home and I was kind of trying to figure things out,” he recalls about the time in his life.
The birth of his child was the catalyst that made him set out on his own and open Rambo Total Pest Control in 2007. Back then, he was the organization’s only technician. Over the years, the company has grown to its current staff of 16, including Luke’s wife, Tera, who handles some of the backend office proceedings, like business finances.
Even though his journey in the pest control industry began with the phone book, his longevity in the field stems from his desire to help others. From the different customers he gets to know to his team that has grown over time, it’s the people that keep Luke going in the industry.
“The pests don’t change – it’s the people we serve that make every day and every house we encounter different.”
One of the things he says he’s been fortunate to experience in his venture to entrepreneurship is transitioning from running the company as the solo technician to having employees, and seeing their commitment to a job well done. “Seeing the effort they put in is second to none and they’re all so dedicated to what they do,” he says of his team.
Rambo Total Pest Control’s offices are located in Puyallup, but the organization services a large portion of the Puget Sound area, from Seattle to Tumwater, as well as east to Enumclaw and west to Gig Harbor. While the bulk of their customer base is residential, they also work with property management companies and service multifamily buildings.
Their goal every day is to be as professional as possible and a big part of that is communicating a clear plan to the customer all the way through the process. Another thing the company prides itself on is setting realistic expectations and providing helpful, quality customer service. One way they accomplish this is to put themselves in the mindset of the customer, and think about what they would want if they had a service person coming to their home.
“We always arrive in a clean, company marked vehicle and uniform. Our technicians use booties in the home and announce our presence, and we also send notifications to let people know when they’re coming,” Luke says of their process.
In an industry plagued with high turnover rates, Rambo Pest Control is pleased that their company continues to retain their talented staff, and credits this to maintaining a consistent approach to a healthy work/life balance. The company’s team-oriented culture also helps keep employees around. For instance, there’s an employee recognition program in the office. Also, at least once a year the entire company takes a team bonding trip, where they do activities like river rafting or camping together.
Besides having a team-oriented culture, the company also places an emphasis on employee education. Luke is involved with the pest control industry in the region, and serves on the board for the Washington State Pest Management Association. The organization also invests time and money educating their staff on treatment methods as well as the biology behind pest control, including offering technicians certification as an Associate Certified Entomologist. The nationwide certification program requires a minimum of five years of experience in the industry and participants must pass an exam that covers many different regions, control methods, biology, and other issues. Currently, there are two ACE certified technicians at Rambo Total Pest Control, with a few others set to take the exam later this year.
“The certification separates some of the industry veterans who have studied the science behind it all,” says Luke. “There are only around 25 people in the state who can boast ACE status, and I think it shows dedication to the long term health of what we’re doing.”