SHELBY -- Jack Hooks didn’t feel he could really help people in a sales job, so he looked to his family for inspiration.
He said he learned customer service skills from working at his family’s business, but he wasn’t able to interact with people face-to-face as much as he wanted.
Missing customer interaction inspired him to come back to his hometown of Shelby and buy Carothers Pest Control from his mother, Mary Carothers.
Carothers’ father and grandfather started the business in Shelby in 1959 and she took ownership in 1993.
“I had talked to my dad about maybe becoming a part of the business, I have a degree and was an accountant, so I had already kind of planned on it,” Carothers said. “I knew how to do all the service.”
From 2009 to 2014, Carothers ran the business herself with some help from Hooks.
“He really paid attention,” she said. “Once he was legally allowed to use the chemicals, I realized he was watching and had remembered, and was doing a great job.”
Carothers Pest Control now has six employees. Carothers said her family has always prioritized customer service and community involvement.
“I’ve always enjoyed this business because we’re helping people and that’s something really important to me,” she said. “I’ve had people call crying on the phone, and you have to reassure them we can take care of their problem for them.”
Identification of what pests customers have is the most important step for Carothers Pest Control. The business has about 10 different chemical treatments for different pests.
Carothers said bed bug treatments take about an hour per room and termite work takes about a day, while other pests are quicker to treat.
She said the staff also gives people advice about how to avoid needing pest treatments, like keeping tree limbs and hedges trimmed away from roofs and windows to deter ants, or containing trash to discourage mice.
Carothers still handles the business’ finances in her retirement.
“I’m retired but still involved, because it’s hard to give this up, it’s the family business,” she said, “but I’m glad it’s in good hands.”
Hooks became the owner of Carothers Pest Control Jan. 1. He said he wants to uphold the company’s values of customer service and expand its online presence, including potential blogs about how to protect individual homes from pests.
“I think keeping the customers as well informed as they can be, or at least want to be, is in their best interest,” he said.
Winter is the “slow season” for pest control, Hooks said, but the business still handles multiple calls for mice, roaches, bed bugs and spiders.
“Spring is when all your dormant bugs wake up and think it’s party time,” Hooks said. “And people spend more time outside and start to realize bees, wasps and stuff like that (are around).”
Carothers Pest Control generally sprays an outdoor pesticide to create an entry barrier and uses non-toxic indoor treatments.
Hooks said the company serves businesses and homes within a 60-mile radius of Shelby. The office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and service hours are weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., though they can be flexible.
“We’re carrying a family name that’s been a key member of the Shelby community for 60 years now,” Hooks said. “That re-emphasizes how important it is for us to provide the service people expect.”