Termites do upwards of 3 billion dollars of economic damage every year in the United States. It is estimated that one in three US households use pesticides in an attempt to control pests including termites and that one in five households in the country eventually hire a professional termite extermination company to deal with an infestation.
Times Have Changed
Once upon a time, pest control meant that a man from the termite company came by and sprayed your floor and baseboards, and you hoped for the best. However, in the modern age, termite control has become more technologically complex. Professional termite companies are often the only entities licensed to obtain and dispense the most effective termiticides under federal law and have access to the state of the art equipment necessary for deployment of treatment. They are increasingly very highly trained and individually licensed professionals who can not only deal with an active infestation but provide ongoing monitoring and protection against re-infestation.
The Best Termite Company is Not Always the Cheapest
When times are tough, the impulse is to cut corners and attempt do-it-yourself efforts first, but the fact of the matter is that termite control is one area that is best left to professionals. Just as with any important service, it is important to be able to recognize the good termite companies and differentiate them from the bad. The cheap termite companies may seem the only affordable options, but it is important that any termite extermination service contracted with is also the best termite company for the job.
There are many ways to identify the top rated termite companies in your area, and careful research into all the options available is highly advised when a homeowner is in need of pest control services. Any reputable exterminator services will have an established place of business, will be licensed, bonded and insured and be able to produce their credentials on demand. The best termite companies will be able to also provide a prospective client with testimonials from past customers and statistics about the effectiveness of their treatments.
Some general rules of thumb regarding termite companies apply:
• Length of time in business is not necessarily the best indicator of extermination success. The licensure and training of the employees of a company is just as important, if not more so, than how long the company itself has been in business.
• Company provided references should be supported by independent reviews gained from other sources. Most businesses—even the worst—will have a few satisfied customers. The Better Business Bureau is a good resource for company reputations/complaints; the Office of the Attorney General in each state is also a resource for tracking licensure and adherence to state laws governing extermination.
• Most termite companies offer free inspections of property—and it is a good idea to schedule more than one company to make in inspection. Not only does this give a less biased view of any existing problem, it is also an opportunity to experience and judge the professionalism of the company personnel.
• Most termite companies will also provide free treatment estimates/plans. The more information a consumer has from a company, (including what methods they employ, the costs and types of treatments used) the easier it will be to make an informed decision as to which company should be contracted with.
The top-rated termite companies are not always the nationally known names—and a comprehensive listing of the very best termite companies is very much keyed to locality.
There are many tools of for finding termite companies, both online and off, especially with the proliferation in recent years of sites like “Angie’s List” or “Yelp.com” which offer not only directories of services but reviews of businesses by actual end users. These online information clearing houses often have localized listings for major metropolitan areas as well as assessments of national services. In termite prone areas there should be no lack of feedback available, either online or informally through word of mouth between friends and neighbors. Often the best termite company is one who has already provided excellent service to someone you know.
Do Your Homework and be Prepared!
It is advisable that the homeowner use the inspection process as a gauge for the company offering services. The smart consumer will ask questions of the inspector including:
• What results can I expect—complete elimination of the colony or only reduction of population?
• What is the treatment timeframe—how long before I know the treatment has worked?
• What pesticides will be use—will you provide me with labels of the chemicals used?
• What percentage of your employees are certified in pesticide use by the state?
• Will the technician deploying treatment be state certified (if the answer is no—beware!)
• What level of experience will the technician have?
• What guarantees, warranties and protection plans do you offer?
Obviously a reputable termite company employee will be able to answer these questions and more besides. The inspector should be able to answer all questions and concerns precisely without being vague or resorting to high pressure sales tactics. He or she should present a professional appearance and conduct themselves with a high level of competence in examining all areas of the house or structure and explaining findings during the course of the inspection. A written report should follow the physical inspection, along with a cost estimate/plan of treatment for any problems found.
As with any contracted service, it is best to collect at least three—if not more quotes. Be wary of the lowest bid and question and investigate the highest as well. Price should not be the first consideration in the contracting of a termite company, the quality of the work, the competence of the employees, the reputation of the company all count for more than the bottom line.
In the United States, there are two nationwide Termite Exterminator services, Terminix and Orkin as well as many companies too numerous to mention that service more restricted geographical areas.
Terminix also known as Terminix International Company LP (Limited Partnership) is recognized as the largest pest control company in the world. It operates in 45 of the 50 states of the US and in 14 countries around the world. It was established in 1927, begun by E.L. Bruce a hardwood floor manufacturer who was seeking a means by which to protect his product from termite infestation. Bruce founded a research company called the Bruce Terminix Laboratory which came up with the first termiticide in 1932. A franchise was born, and in 1955, Terminix was the first pest control company to offer termite protection contracts against re-infestation. The company continued to expand in the decades following, acquiring more and more local pest control companies, and partnered with the mail order giant Sears, Roebuck and Company to become an international entity.
Orkin is another nationally recognized name in termite extermination. It was founded in 1901 by Otto Orkin a fourteen year old son of immigrants who sold rat poison door to door in his native Pennsylvania. By 1912 Orkin was successful enough to open offices in Virginia and other cities and rodent control services were expanded to include all forms of residential and commercial pest species including termites. In the 1950’s the “Orkin Man” was introduced via the newly popular television technology and “commercials” appeared introducing this soon to be famous advertising icon to the United States consumer’s consciousness.
In 1993, Orkin became the sponsor of the permanent exhibit, the Orkin Insect Zoo at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. The Exhibit was created to encourage interactive learning and a better understanding about insects from all over the world as well as those found in the average backyard. Orkin also sponsors Orin’s Junior Pest Investigators’ program offers free science lesson plans for teachers of students in grades K-6 and focus on common pest identification and environmentally friendly ways to help control pests.
Orkin currently employs nearly 8,000 team members in more than 400 locations serving approximately 1.7 million residential and commercial customers. Headquartered in Atlanta Georgia and wholly owned by the Rollins Corporation, Orkin has locations in the United States, Canada, Central America, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Asia.
Whether choosing a nationally known company such as Orkin or Terminix, or a local company with extensive experience with the termites endemic in your area, the key is careful research before making any final decision about contracting for extermination services. Termites are destructive but relatively slow in their process, so there is rarely any need for a decision to be made in a panic.