Pest control owner uses his business skills
Kevin Wilhite, of All-Over Pest Solutions, baits a trap with open face peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches to catch a skunk on Olcott Avenue in Chicago. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
What pest creeps you the most?
All-Over Pest Solutions
7536 W. Strong
Updated: September 3, 2012 6:02AM
HARWOOD HEIGHTS—Kevin Wilhite went fishing for a skunk, but caught a squirrel.
Not discouraged, he set the squirrel free and baited the trap again with an open-face white bread, peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich, and with a wealth of good humor.
He had snagged six baby skunks from under the porch of his Chicago client already and thought he just needed to capture mother skunk. But, a few days later, he had trapped three more skunks, causing him to wonder if there was more than one family of polecats down there.
As fall approaches, calls to remove critters — furry, winged and hardly-seen — will increase for All-Over Pest Solutions of Harwood Heights. Calls Wilhite will embrace with a smile.
After having worked for a larger pest control company, Wilhite started up All-Over Pest Solutions last October at the urging of his wife. The couple had a baby and he was transferred to an office further away from home that required an hour commute each way.
“I did get very fortunate in the fact that within my first month I had built a portfolio that was able to provide me with pretty much the same amount of salary as I was making at my old job,” he said. “You can’t say that happens too often, but I can say I was very fortunate. I had good circle of contacts that put me into meeting the right people.”
Business has also been good because Wilhite forges relationships with all his customers, knows them all by name and has even become Facebook friends with many. So, he has to do a good job. He can’t afford not to.
“There is a lot of responsibility within this relationship to make sure you’re taking care of people,” he said.
Naturally, Wilhite owes some of his success to the annual migration of rodents indoors and the bedbug boom. Every season has its own set of pest problems. Soon it will be stinging insects, flies and ants. Later it will be ladybugs, spiders and cluster flies.
But, this time of year it’s mostly wildlife that’s becoming a nuisance around Chicago and suburbs.
“Raccoons, skunks, etcetera, will usually have their babies in the spring or early summer, and now you’re starting to see these little kids develop and going out and wreaking havoc,” he said, adding, “Roaches and bedbugs never go anywhere for the summer either. We’ve been doing a ton of bedbug work this year. That whole epidemic has not slowed at all.”
This is when Wilhite’s relationship skills are especially useful. Wilhite, who had gone to business school and thought about going into human resources or public relations, turns up the empathy when serving clients dealing with bedbugs. The insects are so pervasive that customers easily become distressed. If the problem persists after their homes have been treated by another pest control company, they’re also angry.
“I’m walking into an already hostile environment,” he said. “I can’t expect they’re just going to trust me out of nowhere.”
Wilhite is also respectful of the animals he traps, using easy-release cages that allow the furry prisoner to quickly escape unharmed. He even referred to the squirrel he caught this day as “young man.”
However, when it comes to skunks, state law requires them to be euthanized because so often the animal is a carrier of rabies.
Wilhite said if it were up to him, he’d return them to the wild.
Why make such an elaborate sandwich for a skunk then? Because he doesn’t want to take the chance of catching a cat. Marshmallows help keep cats away because cats seem not to be interested in sweets.
And since he’s dealt with hornets nests, squirrels, foxes and skunks in this area, there’s no time for dealing with cats.
“This place,” he chuckled, “is the Noah’s Ark of wildlife.”