Dylan Seals: How's it going, Patrick?
Patrick Baldwin: What's up, Dylan?
Dylan Seals: Not much. How was your Thanksgiving?
Patrick Baldwin: It was awesome. It sounds like you're still celebrating over there. You told me you had a surprise. I don't know you're going to crack a cold one this early in the morning.
Dylan Seals: If anybody at home wants to play along, the best flavor of LaCroix is Pamplemousse. It's incredible.
Patrick Baldwin: Why don't they just call it Grapefruit?
Dylan Seals: I highly recommend it. In some markets, it is labeled as Grapefruit. In Tennessee, it's Pamplemousse.
Patrick Baldwin: I remember when you came to Waco a few years ago with Michael W. Smith and on your rider, you must have five cases of Pamplemousse LaCroix, or else you're not coming in the building.
Dylan Seals: That was before I drank LaCroix. The band was way into it. I got into a late. I don't have all the early Lacroix albums. I'm just a fair-weather LaCroix fan. How was your Thanksgiving, Patrick?
Patrick Baldwin: It was awesome. I ate too much. I'll get back on the Peloton and cry my fat away.
Dylan Seals: I need to get one of those Peloton. You've been talking about this a lot. What am I missing out on? Do you get to pick what roads you're riding on and with what people? It’s got a video screen, right?
Patrick Baldwin: Yeah, it's got a big screen. I feel like this was my one splurge since selling bikes. I got a Peloton. It was on sale. It's not even a big splurge. It's more of an investment. That's how I justify it. I ride it almost every day and have a great time. It's got different instructors. That's usually what I go through. So I could listen to what we're about to get into, I listened to Paul's interview. I went to Iceland.
Dylan Seals: Have you been to Iceland before?
Patrick Baldwin: I've not been to Iceland.
Dylan Seals: Let's go. It's awesome.
Patrick Baldwin: I know you've been to Iceland.
Dylan Seals: It is so pretty. What do you remember seeing while you were riding freezing your ass off on the Peloton in Iceland?
Patrick Baldwin: I wish it was cold in the house. Some mountains, some roads. I was watching this thing and I was like, “Did they take a bicycle down this road to film this?” Because there are some potholes on that thing.
Dylan Seals: The roads are horrible there, but they have those old school defenders, the Land Rover Defender that has the big overinflated tires. You can rent them at the airport. They're incredible.
Patrick Baldwin: Let's go. Let's do this.
Dylan Seals: Iceland is a place where you can see in one day, a geyser, a fault line, a waterfall, and a volcano. One day, it's incredible and unbelievable. They have incredible sushi. They try to serve you horse. They had horses. Do you know this? The Nordics?
Patrick Baldwin: Horse sushi? Now just know that the horse is up.
Dylan Seals: No. They cook the horse. The sushi’s incredible, too, anyway.
Patrick Baldwin: Do you know what happens if they overcook the horse?
Dylan Seals: What?
Patrick Baldwin: It turns to gluten.
Dylan Seals: Remember that time during the lockdown that we were going to do an interview with a high-profile person in Pest from London? We couldn't get to London and I said, “Let's do what Reagan and Gorbachev did and meet in Reykjavik.”
Patrick Baldwin: Yes.
Dylan Seals: I still want to do that. We need to have a Pest Summit at the house in Reykjavik. It’s beautiful there.
Patrick Baldwin: That'd be awesome. I don't think I had time for the Reykjavik ride.
Dylan Seals: On the Peloton, can you ride with other people at the same time?
Patrick Baldwin: Yeah. There are live classes. You can do sessions. You could do on-demand. It's funny because we have a follower that ordered a Peloton. He was asking me about ordering a Peloton.
Dylan Seals: Let's shout him out.
Patrick Baldwin: Stuart. His nickname is Busboy.
Dylan Seals: I need to get a Peloton. Winter is when I want to do that kind of thing and be inside. I've got a great bike.
Patrick Baldwin: That's the thing, I was deciding between an outdoor bike like you have, the specialized bike, front shocks, and all that stuff. It was tempting, and then I thought, “You never know the weather in Texas.”
Dylan Seals: It's either too hot or it's freezing and bursting your pipes, apparently.
Patrick Baldwin: Who would have thought you would take something as old as a bicycle and put technology to it, and now you've got a community and a whole new realm of people riding bicycles and exercising? I never considered myself to be a bike rider. That's what we've gotten in this interview. You take a mousetrap and you put technology to it. You take the interview I've always wanted to have, instead you put Paul in there.
Dylan Seals: You're a technology guy. You get into the side of it, right?
Patrick Baldwin: I love it. I begged Paul, “We should talk about digital, rodents, and technology.” The closest thing we've had so far was Brian Alexson there in Atlanta. You were there and we talked about lagging technology and pest control. He's been in other industries. Also, how pest control seems we're still in the ‘70s or ‘80s on certain things. There are things that have brought us today.
Dylan Seals: Especially if you're a trade journal.
Patrick Baldwin: Paul had to go to Europe and go see some clients. He also wanted to do some sightseeing. He's never been to Jerusalem. He sent me a couple of pictures. I want to go. You've been to Jerusalem. What's the deal? What am I missing?
Dylan Seals: I don't know. I liked it. That was one of those trips that didn't do a good job of getting my days and nights correct at the top of the trip. If anybody is an international traveler, you have this window on the first day to stay up and then get your sleep right that night. In Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, I never got that right. I never got out and saw too much other than the venues that we worked in, but great people, great food. Sabbath is interesting. Nothing's going on. That's about it.
Patrick Baldwin: It was interesting, in his interview, he says, “We've got this Sunday route,” and I’m like, “Sure they don't work Saturday.”
Dylan Seals: Speaking about automation and technology, there were all these things in the hotel about the Sabbath. You could set your air conditioning controls on Friday to automate in the hotel room for Saturday. You could get on the elevator and there were all these ways of not telling the elevator what to do on Saturday, but still telling them what to do. That was interesting.
Patrick Baldwin: Paul wanted to do some sightseeing in Jerusalem and said it was awesome. He avoided a real terrorist attack that happened a few hundred meters away.
Dylan Seals: What happened?
Patrick Baldwin: Someone opened fire near the West Wall with an automatic weapon. He said it was crazy. I said, “How close were you?” He said, “Just a few hundred meters.” I’m like, “Cool. He's alive.”
Dylan Seals: That's scary stuff. God is good.
Patrick Baldwin: He opened up his Rolodex while he was there in Israel and did some other sightseeing. I wasn't expecting this. This is awesome. He met up with Ronen Amichai and Ethan Vickery who together have PestOptix. This is super cool. This is the interview I wanted to have. Paul, I know you're here. Thanks for doing this one for me.
Dylan Seals: Where are they at? Are they in a studio? Where did they do the recording?
Patrick Baldwin: Somewhere where there’s silverware dining. It sounds like they’re at some cafe going, “You got to pay your check.” Where was this? You've been there.
Dylan Seals: I don't know. I listened to the recording and it's obvious that they’re at some restaurant, which makes me jealous because I'm sure there was incredible hummus, food, drink, and probably not a lot of pork around. When I was in Jerusalem, we went to this burger restaurant. We're staying at the King David Hotel, which is nice. We asked the front desk people, “What should we eat while we're here?” They gave us a list of a few restaurants.
One of the things they said is, “You got to go around the corner and get a burger from this little place.” Me and Michael's keyboard player, Jim Daneker, are like, “We're doing that tonight.” The first thing we get in there and sit down to order, Jim's like, “I'm going to have a cheeseburger extra bacon.” This woman had seen probably twenty other idiot Americans that day so she was like, “We don't serve bacon here.” I'm looking at Jim and I'm like, “It's real.” It was great. It was one of my favorite a-ha moments for some of us on the road. We wake up and we don't know where we are. We don't appreciate the culture every time.
Patrick Baldwin: I know this was a cafe, but what do you say we stepped into the boardroom with Paul, Ronen, and Ethan?
Dylan Seals: Let's do this, Patrick.
Paul Giannamore: Ronen and Ethan, it's great to be here in Tel Aviv.
Ronen Amichai: Welcome to sunny Israel.
Paul Giannamore: It has been a great trip. For anyone that's contemplating coming over here, it's been beautiful. It's a great country. I got a super warm welcome. Most importantly, I got to see a cool company and what you guys are doing. Ronen, I want to talk about the future of tech-enabled pest control. Before we get to the future, let's talk a little bit about the past. How were you in the pest control industry before?
Ronen Amichai: It's a good story. It started with my father and my mother in the ‘60s when my father joined a pest control company. He did it until today. He is still in the business. I joined him after the army. It’s the best choice that I ever made. We were working together and we were mainly a commercial company dealing with a lot of international companies. We start to get all these requests about using more reforms. It was becoming more technical, but we have to report a lot. We went from 3 or 4 technicians to where we are today, 100 technician companies.
Information and technology we're adding as we try to deal with all the requests that come from international companies. The big food manufacturers became Nestlé and Unilever. They were a local company that became international. They came with requests that we have to fill. Because technology is something that is easy to get in Israel because we have a high-tech country, we move to do things in a technological way.
We started with making forms electronic, going from computers to phones and handheld. Many years ago, we decided to start to go to sensory because we found out that the technician does not always feel what we want and we want to be more accurate. Because technicians are the most expensive part of our business, we try to save them for the important part.
Statistically, we know that the most expensive part of the business is the people when they're doing their job. We’re opening 98% of the time in empty stations, so we thought about how we can take that and put technology that will replace that. That was the first time that we went to try to develop a sensor in technology.
Later, I met Ethan and we started to understand that technology has other parts, design parts. It has to be a good pest control device before it's set to be a technology device. We have to have this joint thing, where we have to have a good station or good part that can capture, monitor, and see rodents. On that, we added the technology. It was eight years ago or so.
Paul Giannamore: Your business here in Israel is almost pure-played commercial. Maybe you have a small little handful of residential accounts that are associated with friends and family.
Ronen Amichai: This is where the residential market gets in our business.
Paul Giannamore: With over 100 employees, you are the largest pest control operation in Israel. I've taken interest in things like Anticimex SMART, for example. Rentokil has been talking about this. Terminix acquired Pest Pulse in Ireland, which has some tech-related aspects to it, but it's not what we're talking about here.
I feel like there has been a lot more discussion on tech-enabled pest control, remote monitoring, and those types of things. Anticimex has pushed to an IPO earlier in 2021. It dramatically ramped up the discussion because Jarl, the company's CEO, his vision for the future is everyone using this, both in the commercial space as well as the residential space.
Why I wanted an opportunity to sit down and talk to you about this is you guys are not a tech company that has gotten into pest control. You guys are a multi-generation pest control operation here in Israel and your aspects of PestOptix through trial and error apply technology to solve real problems in your own business.
Ronen Amichai: We want to move what we do to a different phase. Technology as technology is nice, but you have to take technology to change the way you're doing business. It's not just that we are able to get a report about rodents in the station. This is nice, but this is not changing our industry. Changing our industry means that we will have a reliable system. Not just a snap trap or not just a bait station, but the entire pest control has to become digital to change what we do.
We see that as an option to upgrade or sell quality parts. It's mainly quality, but also saving a lot of money in the future for us and giving a different type of service. If you think about commercially what we think with that, we are able to be in a different place. Compared to all the other competitions that we have here in Israel and other places in the world, we see that we have huge value from the customer point of view. It's an easy sell from the customer’s point of view, it's a hard sell for the pest control, even to our pest control technician.
The transparency of this technology is frightening some people in the industry and some people in our company because what happened in their client is visual. We can see that it gathered at the same time it happened. Until now, nobody knew what we were doing over there. It’s like a mystery. I have some calls and I talk with my biggest customer. I heard from their side the thing we're doing is a pest control company. They don't even understand what we do.
Nobody wants to talk about pest control. We are not a sexy industry. Going from everything going hush to something that we are using, the latest technology of artificial intelligence, using communication technology that nobody is using in other industries, and giving them a new perspective of what we do. It's a huge thing for us. I totally see that as the future of the entire industry.
Paul Giannamore: I spent a lot of time in Stockholm. Whenever I sit down and I look at the Anticimex SMART stuff, my eyes glaze over. It's interesting, I look at traps and all sorts of jazz. It's sometimes difficult for me to understand because I don't understand the practical use for a lot of these things. Anticimex has done a fantastic job of the big players being vocal and they went through the IPO process. We all talked about it incessantly, how this is the future. Before we get to the future, I want to understand the now, maybe a little bit about the history of it. What is this whole hubbub that everyone's talking about? Where's it going?
Ronen Amichai: First of all, as pest control operators, you have to know that it's coming. It's not a question. If it's going to be happening, it's happening. It's happening because of the cost and the amount of money that gets into this technology through the big companies like Anticimex and Rentokil, and through the medium size and also the small guys, technology is there. You cannot avoid that anymore. You cannot say, “It's still there. I'm continuing what I'm doing and nothing will happen to me.” It's going to happen.
I know how much technology is helping us to sell our services that simple. It doesn't have to work. It just has to be there to change our marketing strategy or sales capability compared to our competition. You have to understand that you cannot ignore that from that anymore. We're at the level that we're able to do things from a technology point of view that we used to do with people.
Instead of opening the station once per month or 8 times a year or 4 times a year in Europe, we are having something in the station that can tell us 24/7 if something entered the station. This is the level that we are at today. We’re replacing the need to send someone to tell us what they see. We get it purely, it's 100% accurate, and it's coming online. Meaning, we don't have to know about it a month later. We know about what’s happening today.
This already has a huge advantage for most of our customers from knowing that we have something a month ago and this is why we have this pipe show. This is where we are today. We have more devices, better devices, different communication systems like LoRa, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and Narrowband. All of them have a way of sending the information back to us. None of them will replace all the others. They are all needed in our industry. In some cases, because of cost. In some cases, because of the structure of the building that we are working in. In some cases, because the customer requests or demands.
All of them are living side by side today. The future is taking all this data. Before you get into the technology for pest control, you have to know that you're going to deal with an enormous amount of data that you've never dealt with before. Today you're dealing with a customer complaint on your phone, one technician is calling and telling you all these reports, and now you're getting all your station.
We have hundreds of thousands of stations in the field of technology on that. All of them are talking to you all the time. Now we have to deal with that. This is a huge amount of data that you have to deal with. Otherwise, it's stupid to get it because you cannot do anything with it. You have to have something that will filterize the information. This is where AI and BI enter the systems. When they will mature in our industry, they will change the industry structure.
Paul Giannamore: AI, I understand what that is, artificial intelligence, but you said BI. What is that?
Ronen Amichai: BI is taking the data and it will become a business knowledge that will move your business in the correct ways. It will help you to make decisions. It will highlight where it's important, and it will even allow you to go and predict what's going to happen. This data is important to our customers because these days, with a high profile, everything can go to the media immediately, you want to know what's going to happen and we don't have any clue. We think we know but there are a lot of changes.
With something that’s reporting to you all the time and you have something that can take this data and make it something that we as managers can take and do something with it, this is where it's going to be. We will be able to characterize where it's important to be, where it's not important to be. We can schedule online. We can route things from every day to be fit where we need to be. We’re sending people to do something that most of the time has no value on the results of the test activity in our clients. With that, we would be able to change things and move them from problems to solutions in a faster way and in the end, get more money.
Paul Giannamore: When I think about what Anticimex has done over time, the things that I saw out in the field here on the rodent side with regard to what you're doing, it makes sense to me that you have these technology-enabled traps allowing remote monitoring. To me, that's almost like, “That's cool, but that's not that essential.”
If the technicians got to go out to the place anyway, if it's small, he can look at a trap or two. What I found interesting is you guys have allowed for the enablement of optics. You're using artificial intelligence to take millions of photographs of various different insects in order to allow computers to identify exactly what the insect is. Where's it going on the commercial side? Where's it going on the residential side? That's what I want to know about.
Ronen Amichai: First of all, rodents are still our biggest issue that we're dealing with with remote monitoring. The time for a solution is critical with a rodent. Meaning if you're still doing it manually, you will deal with problems sometimes after already arming your client. With remote monitoring, with remote sensors that enable us to see the rodent when it’s entering the ceiling before it's even close to the station, it could be two weeks difference. In two weeks, they can close your shop. We had that in Israel. There was a story in Israel with Domino's Pizza. People took pictures of a rodent running inside the branch and Domino's closed its place.
Paul Giannamore: It never made it into the trap.
Ronen Amichai: They have a pest control technician. He might do a good job, but he never knew about it. This is a little bit too late sometimes.
Paul Giannamore: It’s not the right kind of camera for that.
Ronen Amichai: With that, if you had our camera sitting in this place seeing this rodent on the first day, we can take all things out. Think how much money it cost his company. You talk about the millions of dollars. We were talking about Israel. This is a big difference. It's worth a lot if you run into that incorrectly. With insects, we are able to take the service part of what we do and take the technician out of the equation because, with rodent-only enabled devices, we still have to send a technician to do all these facts issues.
With having monitoring and being able to analyze the instinct part of what we do, then we have a total digital solution. When we talk about SMART from Anticimex, if we talk about the Rentokil system, in the end, this is why they want to go. They want to be able to put something in the client sites that will replace this weekly, monthly service and totally change the way of the technician. That would send the technician where they are important, where you need them. Not because he has to be there, but because this is the first Sunday of the month.
This is changing what we do. This is when you said value for the pest control company. We can do more clients with less technicians and secondly, we can give a better result. The technology is what is closing the gap between us, the most efficient, from human resources and from the client side, from the quality part that we’re selling them something that is better than what they have today. They're able to measure that.
If we can solve a problem in the first 24 hours compared to the second week after it's happening, there’s a huge value. With technology, cost is a big issue. If you ask me what the future is, the future is these devices will be equal or close to being equal to the non-technology units. This is where we were running to now. Because we're using non-technology and we’re using state-of-the-art pest control devices, in the end, we’re talking about the monthly cost of what we're doing. With the saving of the manpower, we can be cheaper than what they're selling today.
This is when technology is coming from nice-to-have to essential things that we need to use. We are on this path. As more players will be on that, it will be good for everyone. The ones that are not there yet and are trying to sell anything have to be there. They will lose their market share. When we can have a device that will cost close to the non-technology unit, it will be part of your cashflow stream, and you can get money on that, you have to own this kind of technology.
Paul Giannamore: Ronen, we've seen Anticimex clearly be the vocal leader in the market with this. We are now seeing a tremendous amount of development on the radical side. I have a feeling it's not going to be long before we see companies like Terminix and Rollins doing this. One of the issues that I had with Anticimex personally back in 2016 and 2017 was, I remember sitting in their Swedish operations. I’m looking at SMART when it was first being implemented shortly after their investment in WiseCon and they were costing €4,000.
I thought to myself, “We all know that the commercial clients want to pay the least amount they possibly can. How are they going to be able to do this? Now they've driven costs down and clearly, they're going to become prolific?” How does the average pest control guy out there compete with an Anticimex that has figured this out and driven down the cost?
Ethan Vickery: That, you can't. Ronen and I have been at this for over seven years. We've invested a significant amount of money with Ronen being a pest control operator for his entire career of more than nineteen years of developing these devices. This is not an easy path to get to the point. The PestOptix interceptors today took a lot to get to this point.
Ronen Amichai: Ethan said they have to be in this market. We don't even see the end of that because all of these things are going to be in the market. Think about it, Apple and Xiaomi are going to be in this market tomorrow, or Amazon for their tools because getting into technology stuff, now the market is not just us, the pest control industry. We are all developing inside, like indoors technology. We're using global technology that's been used in a lot of other industries. They have to be there, otherwise, they will lose their business.
Paul Giannamore: You raise an excellent point. The private equity firms are all focused on the pest control industry. One of the first questions is always, “Is there some disruptive technology when they size up an industry?” They worry about, “Am I getting into analog film and there's a digital camera right around the corner?”
I understand the commercial. I understand that the large companies are significantly investing in this and at some point, it’s going to change the commercial market. We're seeing that today. When I drive around Israel and go on these tours you've got these optical traps. Everything's remote monitoring. You got the computer systems, the AI. You've done that in the tiny country of Israel. We'll start to see it more in Europe and the United States. At what point does this become a residential phenomenon? The bulk of our followers are US operators, 70% of that revenue is residential. Is Amazon going to come in and figure out a way?
Ronen Amichai: They can do that. The thing that will help the industry to stay in the service part. You still need to spray, you still need to bait, you still need to catch them and remove the dead rat. This was keeping the industry. Even if a disruption technology entered the market, we still have this low-tech part. Someone has to take the dead rat from the ceiling. I don't see Amazon doing it with any future robot. I don't see that happening.
The industry will still be there. It doesn’t have to be changed because we're giving a better service in the end. I’m talking about commercial and residential. If the price is right and we are on this way, we will get more customers. We know that we are able to do residential units today that will be cheap or let's say the same price as the non-technology unit that you already have. We will give better service. We can give other new services. The industry has to adapt.
What we see in some cases, and we’ve been in NPMA, you see people say, “That’s not going to happen. This is Anticimex and Rentokil’s play. It won't harm our industry. It will never get to our village, to our small town in the middle of somewhere.” It will because technology has the ability to go fast. When all your knowledge is sitting in this five-inch box that has this wireless connectivity to a few jobs that your people are able to take this information and do with it something, it will get anywhere.
This is where Apple, Xiaomi, and Amazon can go and kick some of our assess for that. The service part is the thing that will keep us alive. I know my problem here in Israel, I know from Europe presumably the same problem, and the other states, it's not that easy to get technicians. One of our biggest problems to generate more revenue and get more business is manpower. We can close this gap with technology. Yes, this is a disruption technology but it's not going to replace our industry.
Paul Giannamore: The consumer expects technology. That's what we expect today. Our watches, our computers, our cars, in our refrigerators, there's technology in every part of our life. There are tools that will be potentially invented by non-traditional pest control manufacturers. They rely on Amazon Alexa. We have our interceptor line. Could you see a day where an Amazon potentially has snap traps that talk to Alexa that you could put in your garage or your attic?
Ronen Amichai: That's a nice story. Alexa was running on the Zigbee. Our first technology to use ZigBee, which is communication. We can enable the device with Alexa so we can ask her, “Is there a rat in the house?” Alexa is running on Wi-Fi and Zigbee.
Paul Giannamore: The one thing that stuck out to me personally as different is what you guys have done with not only the cameras but the artificial intelligence. When we took the tour and we looked at different things, the way I understood, at least on the insect side, in layman's terms for a guy like me to understand, you've effectively taken some trap with a glue board in there. You put it in a hotel, for example, or you put it in a commercial kitchen.
You've trained this computer system to recognize various different insects and you use this system as they collect maybe a fly or two. You can set individual thresholds for each different type of insect. I remember you running in and saying, “If you get a fly or two, it might not be a big deal, but if a roach goes on there, we might have zero tolerance for that. When the system sees a roach, that's it, a technician gets deployed.” That's something that outside of physically being here in Israel, I have not seen that anywhere else. Is that correct to say?
Ronen Amichai: Till now, what we know, yes.
Paul Giannamore: This is your latest iteration as you guys are building out PestOptix. This is what you're focused on.
Ronen Amichai: Simplifying the tools and getting more information from the higher ideas we develop, the multipest station. We call one of our stations, AnyPest because we don't care what’s getting inside. When it’s getting inside, we will know what kind of pest we're dealing with, and then through thresholds and other automated technology, we'll be able to react fast, or we don't have to react. Flies on an outside station, who cares? You'd have to be there. If you don't have any flies, your station doesn't work.
In high-risk areas, if you have rodents or mice or roaches or storage pests, you're able now to react to that. The good thing we did with our station is that we are not focusing on specific species or specific stations. Otherwise, first, it would be too expensive. Secondly, we have too many stations. In the end, we have to put them in an environment that’s not used to our station.
We took one big station or smaller one, depending on where we want to put it, the hub and the mini-hub, and we are now able to see multipest and we are now able to react fast. Everything is much more simple from what we did before because before, we have to go to five different types of stations. The technician has to take a flashlight because he's there for only ten minutes. What he was seeing in those ten minutes is what we got for the next month.
Now we have something sitting there in the dark, getting information, and uploading it automatically to people that need to know about it. For us, it's a huge change. Talking about who's paying for that, the customer loves the solution. It's easy to explain to them that. Their question is, “We didn’t do that before because it's so simple.”
Take any kitchen. If we're able to have something that will measure roach activity and drain fly, something that we know that totally influences our cleaning level in the kitchen. If we are able to show them and react to that before they see that as a problem, now there's a bigger value of what we're selling them. The only question is enabling them to know about this technology. The only thing that we see as a problem to launch it to all our customers is time and investment to do that. You have to make it simple, easy to understand from the customer point of view, and easy to understand from our side that we have a problem that we need to solve with the simple station.
Paul Giannamore: Here in Israel, do you have clients that say, “I don't want all of this. I want old school. I want the guy to come out with a flashlight.”
Ronen Amichai: Yes, we got them. We also have a client that said, “You're going to reduce visit time. I want to pay you less.” We have a few models to sell these things. In percentages, not so many. Most of the big clients understand that because they can understand the quality of what we do. We have customers who are afraid of cameras. This is why our camera will never look at the room when people are going through it. The people are afraid of the security measures. We're dealing with all types of people. Especially when you have a picture. We said that a picture is better than 1,000 words. If you can show them with our red square around it, usually this is what's closing the deal because then, they see a problem then you see money lost.
Paul Giannamore: You might have a client that says, “Last time for you means less money that I have to pay.” Let's translate that into what have you seen as you've deployed this across your customer base here in Israel. What actual time savings have you realized? Can you quantify that?
Ronen Amichai: Yes. First of all, depending on how the customer has pest pressure. High pressure infested environment have a lot of problems. For restaurants that have rodents entering in and out, technology is not that important. You have to react all the time. These are most of the customers that we have that don’t deal with pest issues all the time. They need us because they hope they won't have any problems, but we don't have rodent problems or insect problems on a daily basis.
Over there, we see the time that we are saving. From other places, we do at least twelve visits a year for the average customer. In fast food like McDonald’s, we come twice a month. Some of our clients said, “Instead of coming twelve times a year, with technology, we’ll come six times a year, but you will pay us a 50% increase of every visit that we do because we have to do more things. You will pay 25% less per visit for the same time that we used to come, 50% more.
You will pay for the investment of the technology one time. Now everyone is happy.” We have that model that's coming through. We already have customers in the space. This is where everything is coming together. We have a better system, we're sending time, they’re saving money, and we're happy because I'm getting per hour more than I got for my technician before that.
Paul Giannamore: When I walked around on the tours, and you were talking a little bit about some math at these facilities, it seems like you are almost able to double your dollars per hour on a blended rate by doing this stuff.
Ethan Vickery: If you're a high-risk account, especially if you have valuable stock inventory, the pests are meaningful for destruction, reducing your profit. Especially in today's world, one of the facilitators saw that their inventory is moving so fast. If you have stored product pests, it's a big deal because I'm losing money. If you have AnyPest, it's working 24/7 so that threshold is one.
I see my problem and the technicians deployed, the problem then is fixed and then I give that information to the customer. That is a different relationship that that customer now has with IPM pest control than they would have with anybody else because they're giving them an immediate reaction to something the customer cares about.
Ronen Amichai: I don't see any disadvantages of this technology. Maybe I'm too far invested in that. The only problem that we have is the investment. Sometimes it doesn't work. Sometimes you need to replace something to fix it. Not all your technician is loving it, not all your technician can react to the technology, can react to the fast forward. Now we are in fast-forward mode.
We still have to do a lot of things inside the company. We still have to train our technician out to deal with that. The benefits are enormous. You can see that our customer base. We have more clients every day. It's in our technician’s car all the time. They have these devices there. It's not unique anymore and this is what we want to go with that. If you want to use it, we set our technician.
If you think that you need to add technology because you have a problem, an insect that you want to identify, a rodent that you cannot capture, and you want to put five cameras inside to do that, we won't charge the customer. In the end, we’ll come and we have a protocol with everything that has been ordered showing, “Do you want this on a monthly basis?” It's not a question. You don't have to ask another manager, probably not me. You just have to use that. We want them to use technology as another baiting technology. This is just another tool. It's important, too, but it's not unique anymore. It used to be.
Paul Giannamore: When you think about that even in the United States, if you take the interceptor mouse or the interceptor rat, and the homeowner has a mouse problem in their garage or rat problem in the attic. If there's stock on the technician’s vehicle, it's easy to get on the customer's Wi-Fi residentially. We've got a good protocol for it. We have an incredibly safe system. I can now put a snap trap mouse or rat in that customer's home. “I'll be back tomorrow.” “I'll be back when it goes off,” etc.
The value proposition from a customer's perspective is high because you're doing something for me 24/7. Not just putting something out and being like, “Call me if you see anything on the trap.” What Ronen's doing at his customer level is a completely different service than I've ever seen before. To me, that has made this trip worthwhile, to see the value proposition especially in the first facility where it's a spotless facility, it's a distribution facility, all distributions about throughput.
Ronen Amichai: Their threshold is one. This is what's so amazing. If this insect, entered to their product, it will ruin the entire name of this company. They're selling it to hundreds of stores. Taking it back, the recall is going to be a nightmare. That threshold is one. We have to deploy hundreds of traps, checking them weekly or daily. The cost will be enormously high and we'll miss some of them because technicians get into the facilities and his wife is calling in the middle of the monitoring and said, “We never have a problem this side,” then we go to the other side, then we have a problem of that side. The risk is unbelievably high.
We got this problem. The reason that’s our threshold is one because we had a full warehouse that has fumigated more than once to get rid of this problem. We have to recall all the products from there because of this insect. Now we can all sleep much better. We are saving hundreds of hours. In the normal time, you will have at least 100 to 150 glue traps sitting around every place, and you have.
We'll have to look at every trap from a customer weekly. Weekly, someone has to do that 150 trap tour, 600 trips a month. Even my best technician can miss 1 or 2 because of any reason. This is the value that we have today. We don't have to put 100 traps. We can put 10 or 20 because now we monitoring it online. It’s sending us a picture every six hours. We're checking the station four times a day.
Paul Giannamore: Whether it be PestOptix and what's going on here in Israel or what Anticimex has been trying to do, the SMART, the more mission-critical it is for a customer to have no pest.
Ronen Amichai: The easiest customer because it's so easy to explain it, but it's also good when you don't have pest pressure because then you're saving time and money. If you're dealing with this two, the high risk and the low risk, you have reason to use technology. The higher risk is because we save them a huge amount of money. With the low-risk places, we can save us time, and with that, it’s saving them some money and still doing the job as we want to do that.
In the middle, the ones that have high pressure of pest and the some of the high-risks, technology does help on daily basis. It will help with something to show we’re doing better reports, getting better knowledge, explain the customer part, “We have rodents over there because we see them,” but it hasn't replaced the technician’s quality.
Paul Giannamore: That would be like a fast food restaurant, that ideal.
Ronen Amichai: Even in the fast-food restaurant when we look at it and when we spoke with the giant that is running this fast food chain, they have high-risk places in this restaurant. This is where AI comes in. When we introduce our system to one of the biggest chains in the world, they said, “We don't care because we don't feel the technician is good enough. If it's sending me a message when it caught a mouse or doesn't send me a message, and you have to look at it and you're putting it in the wrong place, I'm not getting the quality that I can get from remote monitoring.”
The biggest point that they said, and it was interesting because I never heard that before, “If you put in your enabled device or regular snapper in the wrong place, I will get the same zero results. It won't help me.” The camera that is looking around places all the time in the ceiling that he doesn't have a ladder to go into, then I have something new, then I have a new defense system. This is a big difference.
This was one of the best customer feedback that I ever got. He said, “I don't care if you can tell me that I have mice in my truck. I can send you there every day to check it but you can put it in the wrong place so the technology doesn't tell me here. If I have something they can look around this area all the time and be able to tell me, ‘You have a rodent problem over there,’ this is where it counts.”
Paul Giannamore: Better on your camera than the news camera. You, Ethan, started your business, the old analog traps. Now you're sitting here right south of Tel Aviv in a high-tech hub here and we're looking at camera-enabled, technology-enabled traps. What's the story with VM? How did you even get down this path where you're sitting here with Ronen and we're having these discussions?
Ethan Vickery: I started VM in 2003. It started straight out of college working in the industry and left and went into healthcare. For a lot of people, the pest control industry is something that when you love it, you love it. I had an idea on the EZ Secured so I wrote a business plan and had a business partner, Danny Meyers, which a lot of people in our industry know.
As we continue to grow VM and Ronen and I continue to work together, it made a lot of sense. That partnership started and we made perimeter baiting. I look at our stations now that are not enabled and it's fun to watch the enablement of the stations and the work that we've done together. Ronen’s father came by my booth in Boston at MPMA. I'm a forward-thinker, so I thought about technology. They came by the booth. We're passionate about their digital solution. They needed an equipment partner, and then a partner in the United States. I remember listening to Ronen’s dad talking, thinking, “This seems a little far-fetched.”
Ronen Amichai: He wanted to go with the investment that we already had to catch his losses. I didn't say that but the first one I had caught was for him, so it maybe came from that point.
Ethan Vickery: As anybody knows me, I'm a risk-taker. I enjoy inventing new products in our industry. Ronen and I started talking and that morphed into bigger conversations. We've been working for over seven years. I'm proud of what we've done. It's funny because Ronen will typically come with the big ideas, the AI, and so on.
I always rely back on the fact that he's selling this every day in his business and he's got good customers. He's got the big global brands. PestOptix and Interceptor have taught me a lot about manufacturing and inventing new products I don't think I ever would have figured out. For example, we did one trial. How many pictures do we take in three weeks?
Ronen Amichai: About 102,000 pictures from twelve cameras.
Ethan Vickery: The most fascinating thing to me was two things. One is that the system worked. We took 102,000 pictures. The AI worked. To take that many pictures in three weeks, but there's a lot of throughputs. You're testing and spending the system up.
Paul Giannamore: It's like a teenage girl with an iPhone.
Ethan Vickery: Over the years, I've set in hundreds of rodent presentations and you always hear the comment that a mouse can go through a hole the size of your pinky finger. In the station that we use, we have our locking mechanism for our snap line, a small hole in the bottom of the station when we add the snap to it. That particular station was being deployed in the snap trap and wasn't in one of the stations.
The mouse is going through a hole that's smaller than a dime. It was like a game. The mouse goes through the hole and come back through the hole. It is fascinating to me that while I've said it and repeated it, and I've heard other people say a mouse can go through a hole the size of your pinky finger, we have pictures of mice going through the hole. We have proof.
Paul Giannamore: Help me understand this. You guys are taking millions of pictures now and you've got this AI system. Are you taking a bug or an insect that you know like, “Here's a German roach. We know what this looks like.” You're educating the computer.
Ethan Vickery: We start that process by using a lab in the United States. That is what they do. They’re a pest control testing lab, whether it be insecticides or rodent control products, whatever it may be. We start the process of feeding the AI with the actual insect so we know from a lab that was a German cockroach and they put the German cockroaches on the glue board.
Ronen Amichai: We have foreign German cockroaches. We know which kind of pest is it, which kind of insect it is, and how many we have, and then we train the computer. We say, “This is roaches,” each of them from a different angle. The issue is not every roach looks the same. There will be different angles on the glue board. Every angle is a new shape. We have to try for the computer to understand that the different shapes are the same pest. This is taking time. Same with rodents.
Ethan Vickery: It’s a lot of work, a lot of labor, a lot of management.
Ronen Amichai: It’s starting with a lot of labor. AI is not this machine that’s doing everything by itself. You have to train them in a civilized environment in your lab that you know what you see. Now you're training them and then you’re taking what the lab results are putting into the AI computer to its thinking procedure and then taking pictures in the real-life situation. They are not the same. You have more dirt. You have different types of pests in the same place. They're not sitting in the same way that you thought they will, and then you have to train them again.
This is what the magic is all about the moment that you start to see that the machine is better than you. We have this moment with a rodent that we put a technician to recognize rodent. We build a lab in one of our warehouses, put cameras around it, released lab rats and mice into this place, and start to train them. The moment that technician say, “I don't see here anything but the machine was saying 70% there's something over there.”
When we look at it, then we know that AI is equal to us and now it started to think by itself. All the time, we are improving the system. We have a feedback mechanism in all our apps. The technician can see the picture and react to that and say, “What you said is a rodent, it’s a moth.” The machine learning will go back and think about it and fix itself, and in the end, it will do it by itself.
We have this human time that is costly and hard to do. With rodents, we have three years and more than 2 million pictures that can be analyzed by the system that we have encountered. With the insect, we are in tens of thousands, so we still have things to go. This is why we are only able now to give you four different types of insects. We can tell if it's a beetle, a moth, a roach, or a fly insect. We will be in the next quarter or so with nine different pests, and then we have to decide how deep we need to go because sometimes it’s not that important if it's tree volume or flower, or another type of storage. It's important, so the industry will tell us what they need.
Paul Giannamore: I can understand why you would want to identify an insect. Why do you need to identify rodents? Doesn't a rat go into a rat trap, a mouse go into a mouse trap?
Ronen Amichai: No. We have lizards getting into the trap. With that, we can prove that we are not harming any untargeted animal. Only from that point of view, we’re getting something that we never got before. We can tell them, “We don't harm any others. What we’re getting into these stations are rodents.”
You have other things that are interfering with sensors. Before we use the camera sensor, we have a lot of false like someone kicking water into the station, the wind blowing into the station. A lot of factors can interfere. Pest control devices are not sitting in sterilized places. They're sitting outside. They’re sitting in a kitchen. Temperature is changing. Air is changing. We have to be sure what we see.
When we use simple sensors, we will know 100% that we are dealing with what we are talking about. With cameras, you're taking this out of the equation, we know what we’re having over there. Knowing is a huge factor in what we do. Taking from the customer’s point of view, seeing is better than we, telling you. A lot of pest control company doesn't like this idea to be transparent to the client, but we see this as a huge benefit. When I see a mouse in my station, they can see it if they want to at the same time that my technician will get this alert. My technician is now being watched. Expectation is also on the customer side.
Paul Giannamore: The office can see it, the client can see it, everyone can see it.
Ronen Amichai: We're not filtering out the customer. We have customers that don’t want to know. Some said, “Just push us the report when you finish the problem.” The level that they believe what we do getting to a new level that we've never been before. They can take what we do and push it to others. They can show the customer and they can show the management why they’re paying for the service. They can show them something.
When I started to develop electronic forms for us, it was what we sell. It wasn't the service that we sell, it was the report that’s been pushed to the customer because they can take it and say, “This is what I'm getting.” The visual part is even higher quality. In the end, in a service that nobody understands what you do, it's proof of service. Proof of service is important in what we do. Not just because the auditor requests that, but it’s because customers are paying money for that.
Paul Giannamore: It appears that you don't have a habit of buying off-the-shelf items of software. I'll give you an example. We did a transaction in Ireland. It was the largest privately-held commercial pest control company in Ireland, where I learned a lot about your software. They're not using PestOptix stuff in Ireland but they were using your commercial reporting software. Was this something you made for yourself here, and then that became commercialized? What happened there?
Ronen Amichai: It started from needs that we find out for ourselves. We decided to go to Windows-based software because this is what we know to do. We look to see if someone else is doing it. No one did it before, so we designed it ourselves the same way the system that you said in Ireland. It started because of the needs that we have here in Israel. We couldn’t buy that.
We looked for some systems but none of them were even close to what we were looking for. From my point of view, some that like to control what we do was the easiest way to do that or the cheapest way. I'm happy about that company in Ireland. I never talked with them. They talk with other people in our organization. I have found it interesting and, in the end, help them to sell their business.
Paul Giannamore: That software that you have there, I only see it in Europe. I haven't seen it in the United States and it's only for the commercial business, but it's a reporting software for the client.
Ethan Vickery: It's called IoT Box.
Ronen Amichai: We designed it. It's a different level. It was more than fifteen years old. On the new system, we’re building a new software because this is the end of life of some of the components inside the software that are not being supported anymore by Microsoft and others. We have to redevelop everything, but the concept is the same. When we started doing the electronic form, nobody did it. Everyone is using a pencil or an Excel file. You still find a lot of a client that are reporting on Excel. We took that question and put it in the system. It's not that hard to do.
The information they’re getting from that, the way that you can show the information, pushing the information, able the customer to understand without having to go to the dashboard, every customer has their own dashboard but none of them are using that. We’re pushing them the information. They get it in a PDF report and everything is hyperlinked on the form. If you want to see what pesticide we use, just click on that and it will open them. If they want to see my license, if they want to see a technician’s license, they want to see the insurance, everything is integrated into one simple form. This is what's helping us to in the end report because of this regulation and because this is what we’re selling.
Paul Giannamore: Ethan, you’re running VM, you lived in the world of the old-school analog traps. I've got a close friend in this industry who said, “I love VM because it's a basic product,” but they follow us. I've made common-sense changes to these traps that you would have thought others would have figured out decades ago.
From what I understand, you make a phenomenal product and folks are super satisfied with them. You're here in Israel hanging out with Ronen. You guys have been working together on PestOptix. You've taken a lot of the old-school analog traps and now you're enabling these things with cameras and sensors. Is this something that you hear from your clients that ultimately want to see that? Is it something that you feel like the industry is going that way? Why have you gotten involved with Ronen and this whole PestOptix journey?
Ethan Vickery: What I have done with Ronen and the work that we've done together has been a passion. I believe in it. We've stayed committed to it. I appreciate what you’re saying about our core product line. We take a lot of pride and listen to the customer and try to give the customer the best experience we can give with our products. Like any high-end product line, it's ultimately what the customer wants. It's not what I want to give them.
The PestOptix journey has been about an opportunity to be a leader in innovation in this space. I care deeply about the products. I care deeply about the industry. I want to be a leader in the space. For me, it makes sense to make the investment. Even if the customer base doesn't necessarily generate in each one of these products because there are so many of them and there’s much interest in one over the other, I am passionate about building out this product portfolio. It’ll have a legacy that is industry-changing.
When we put a bait station on a concrete block, that wasn't new. People were doing that. They were going to Home Depot. They would buy a concrete block and put it together in their office, etc. It’s the thought process of saying, “Can we take a bait station, make our own concrete block, and ship it?” In the end, that was the innovation, we shipped it. That was a big innovation when you think about the labor that was saved.
We’ve built our brand and our company on being innovative. Once you start doing that, there's no stopping. You have to continue to innovate. We connected halfway across the world and we both have a passion for the business. We have a passion for what we're doing. The investment, the time, the effort come easy. We're happy to do it.
Paul Giannamore: I like it.
Ronen Amichai: We complete each other. People have to understand that as simple as this looks like, you need so much industry knowledge to tie it together. In the end, it’s the simple thing that will work. It's a great journey. We got here so we're doing something right.
Paul Giannamore: I swung through here and a trip to the Middle East. It's exciting to see what you guys are doing. I was blown away walking through those facilities and seeing the stuff live. I appreciate the time you guys spent with me and the hospitality. It's been a great trip here in Israel.
Ronen Amichai: Thank you very much for coming.
Paul Giannamore: Thank you. It's a great trip.
Patrick Baldwin: This was cool. Paul was able to do this tour and see some of these accounts. This is a proven business model. I feel vicarious in the sense of this is where I would love to go see this proven out. I've seen the advertisements and the magazines. I've heard about the technology coming. We've talked to CEOs like Jarl. We've talked to John Myers. They know that they're leading the way on this. I'm afraid that if our colleagues in the industry, the smaller guys, if they're not picking enough on this, they are going to get left behind. That's my stake in the ground.
Dylan Seals: I'm still learning about the pest having worked with you guys for over a year. I can appreciate how this technology could make things efficient and save operators money. I thought it was fascinating how they mentioned not having to shut down a restaurant if something was detected early before an inspector could detect it or before a guest. That starts to make sense when you talk about the return on the investment.
Patrick Baldwin: This is where I can nerd out for a second. I feel like in this interview, I can talk about rodents because it's cool. Roof rats here in Central Texas are the preferred rodent. That's where most of our calls came, from roof rats. You've dealt with rats, in general. You've had one case that was hard to solve. It took a lot of problem-solving. This makes a lot of sense. I've two scenarios that come to mind, one residential and one commercial. You thought you had it solved again. You had a knockdown in deploying this technology whether it's for monitoring or long-term deployment. It would have saved hours upon hours to get rodent problems under control.
Dylan Seals: Explain to someone like me who's, as Paul says, never done an honest day's work in your life. What would it be like to try and do that analog? Take me through what that looks like.
Patrick Baldwin: Residential, the one scenario, was a fun one. I got called to a house and the washer and dryer were set up. I was new to dealing with roof rats. I had a technician there with a lot of experience. We thought we caught the rat. He goes on vacation and a couple of days later, they call and they say, “We're still hearing noises.” I go out on my own. I'm in the laundry room, it was narrow. There's one rat and it scurries behind me from the washer. It runs behind me and goes through the dryer. There's dog food in this room, a laundry basket, and all this stuff.
The next thing you know, I'm shaking and moving everything. No less than ten juvenile rats followed the same pattern and I'm like, “I don't know what to do.” I’m panicking. I spent a lot of time on this account. It was getting in the attic and it was going out 2 to 3 times a week. There was tracking powder, Liqua-Tox, snap traps, a whole bunch of things. I’m going nuts with this and spending way too much time.
Dylan Seals: How would you have used some of these AI devices, technology, and methodology to make that a lot easier on yourself?
Patrick Baldwin: I’m going there 2 or 3 times a week and not knowing where they're tracking and what patterns they’re following. They have some of this deployed and know, “They're running this line here. They're running down that pipe chute.” Having eyes on them all the time and knowing what time they're active and where to set traps. As opposed to going in there, I'm seeing a snapshot of what's happening with rodent activity. They're going to be super shy. As soon as I start making noise getting to the attic or getting in the laundry room, they're going to scurry. Having extra eyes there that are on 24/7 would’ve helped.
Dylan Seals: The rat doesn't know the device is doing anything so it's going to be fine to run around it and run past it.
Patrick Baldwin: It's probably going to pee on it.
Dylan Seals: What about commercial accounts? That was interesting to me.
Patrick Baldwin: This one was interesting. It was the movie Tombstone on the cover and the guys walking in the street with their guns and all that stuff.
Dylan Seals: Doc Holiday.
Patrick Baldwin: Friday afternoon, going in with pellet guns, 500,000 square foot warehouse.
Dylan Seals: Did you guys play a few games of pellet gun before you start?
Patrick Baldwin: We would go out and shoot the rats. They were trap-shy.
Dylan Seals: In the restaurant?
Patrick Baldwin: This is a 500,000 square foot distribution center.
Dylan Seals: You go in this warehouse with guns.
Patrick Baldwin: Texas gunslinger.
Dylan Seals: Is this unique to Texas? Do you do that in New Jersey?
Patrick Baldwin: I don't know. I’m not saying it was the safest thing we ever did but it was awesome. Friday afternoons, we go in late, the guys would finish the routes, grab their pellet guns, and we’d go in there.
Dylan Seals: Do you turn some music on like some AC/DC?
Patrick Baldwin: Yeah, Hells Bells, and all that good stuff.
Dylan Seals: It’s to get you in the mood. You got little headsets. It’s like laser tag and you can talk to each other. It’s like, “I got a bogey coming across my 6:00. Take him out, Patrick.” I’m trying to get a sense. This is interesting to me.
Patrick Baldwin: It was fun. It lasted a lot longer than it should have. Now I know how to drive the scissor lift and all that fun stuff. I would get the scissor lift and we’d go down the aisles. We'd set Liqua-Tox. I was calling our Bell Labs rep to help me out. All sorts of crazy. It's hard to think of anything we did not try to get that solved.
They were not human shy. It would be like, “What's up?” They’re throwing you deuces as you're working. You could walk up to it and it couldn't care less. It was interesting. They would move to different areas of the warehouse. It was 500,000 square feet. There was a lot of ground to cover but I can see where something like this would have cut down on labor costs because we were billing hourly for that.
Dylan Seals: You were billing hourly to shoot things with a gun.
Patrick Baldwin: We should’ve been paying him.
Dylan Seals: You use both. You use a little bit of AI technology but you still show up and play tag the rat. You got to do that.
Patrick Baldwin: I'm glad this came up. The interview was about pricing. That's traditional across the board. You pay your CPA or lawyer this much per hour. What happens when I can reduce my frequency or I'm reducing my time at the account? I'm glad to hear that Ronen is way ahead of this. He's living. It's more than the technology but there's a business model with over 100 employees. The other thing is Europe is seriously leading the way. Look at Anticimex, Rentokil, European-based companies. You've got Ronen over there with PestOptix.
Daniel, from Futura, is leading the way. It's coming. You've got regulation in the states. California has banned a certain rodenticide, a second-generation anticoagulant. Anticimex is out in California. Rentokil is there. They are going to thrive. Where there's higher regulation, they can make headway and get a lot of these commercial accounts or sensitive accounts with their technology or it's going to leave smaller privately held businesses behind if they don’t adopt this.
Dylan Seals: It makes sense. You're using fewer products that are better for the environment. I get it.
Patrick Baldwin: That's where we're going. Have we talked about ESG, Dylan?
Dylan Seals: What is ESG?
Patrick Baldwin: Environmental Social Governance. It’s where we're headed.
Dylan Seals: ESG is something that I would imagine Max would try to give me when I'm in Puerto Rico.
Patrick Baldwin: He's excited about your trip to PR.
Dylan Seals: Apparently, he's taking me somewhere I've never been before. I'm not sure I want to go.
Patrick Baldwin: It’s not that kind of ESG. This is part of ESG. If you can reduce your use of rodenticides through digital, this is where it's headed. It’s interactive. It's transparent with your customers. If they know there's a mouse and you know there's a mouse, there's the accountability, “Come handle my mouse,” or whatever issue.
Dylan Seals: I appreciated the bit about pairing it with Alexa and all the possibilities there. It's pretty wild.
Patrick Baldwin: Alexa, is there a mouse in Dylan's house?
Dylan Seals: There's not. When I first moved in here, I was a real redneck and I left the garage door open all day while I was working and stuff. There were snakes and mice. It took me a long time to get them out of here. It was tough. Now, I'm careful. We had squirrels in our attic. This real redneck country dude came out and he's super cool. He has a degree in wildlife but he's a backwoods guy. He goes by the critter guy.
The guy that built my house when I called him was like, “I've got squirrels in my attic. I'm pretty sure that's what I'm hearing.” He's like, “You need to call the critter guy.” He sends me the contact on my iPhone and it says, “The Critter Guy.” He shows up, goes up in there, he's like, “You got to lactate mama up here. She's going to be hard. We got to move her. Otherwise, the babies are going to die up here.”
He was a genius. It was impressive to me how he was able to take fake raccoon urine. Maybe he has a raccoon that he gets urine from. I have no idea. He put it all around in the attic and then horse whispered them out of the house. He found the hole where they were getting in and patched it and we didn’t have any problems. I have a critter guy. I don't have a pest guy. I need to get a pest account out here. I know I'm awful. I spray my house myself. I'm not freaked out by spiders. We don't have anything else but I got a critter guy.
Patrick Baldwin: Byron Barnes, give Dylan a call. A lactating squirrel mama? In case she wasn’t, he was dropping little bits of milk for a trail. We're going down a rabbit trail here.
Dylan Seals: I don't get a lot of airtime on The Buzz.
Patrick Baldwin: This is perfect. I got a longtime friend. She says she's got squirrels in her attic. She's a customer. I'm like, “I'll go and take care of it.” She’s like, “I'll leave the garage open. Go in the attic and do your thing.” I show up. I got red fox urine and then cotton balls in plates and I was going to try to get the squirrels to run out of the attic. What's red fox urine? I don't know if there's a worse smell. I dare you to find the worst smell than red fox urine. It's potent.
I finished. Before I did that, I knocked on the door to the house. I went to the garage and knocked on the door to the house and no one answered. I then went and walked around the outside of the house to go inspect to see where they were getting in. I'm walking around the house and I'm like, “This is not her house.” I was in the attic of her neighbor's house that also left the garage open.
Dylan Seals: That is genius.
Patrick Baldwin: She let her neighbor know that some pest control guy gave them a free squirrel deterrent surface. No one got shot that day. It was a good day.
Dylan Seals: That's fantastic.
Patrick Baldwin: We're way off track here with rodent technology.
Dylan Seals: Seriously, why do you think that the Europeans are the ones that are ahead on this? Why hasn't some American company been more forward-thinking? It's curious to me. I was trying to figure out why Israel was leading this technology and then I figured it out.
Patrick Baldwin: What?
Dylan Seals: Security. The Israelis have security on lock. If you've ever flown in there, they'll tear your bags apart. They'll ask you questions that your mother doesn't even know the answer to. They don't want bugs. It's got to be from their deep security culture. Do you know what I'm talking about? The Israeli security force?
Patrick Baldwin: Didn’t you have issues traveling in and out of Israel?
Dylan Seals: I did. They know how to keep things out that they don't want.
Patrick Baldwin: You got the technology in Tel Aviv. There are a lot of genius guys. You're proving it out. I don't think this could have gotten proved out in many places. Tel Aviv is one. This could have been proved out in the Bay Area. That's the other place I'm thinking of, like Silicon Valley. You've got a good service company with hardware and technology. Those three things are coming together and proving it out. In this case, Ronen's experience in the years and years and the third-generation business seemed like the perfect proving out of the ground that make this happen.
I see the adoption from probably more of a social standpoint or environmental concerned citizens not just over deploying pesticide. That's where the industry gets a bad rap. You're putting out tons of chemicals unnecessarily. It can be avoided. I want to see the industry moving this way. At least in the commercial end, I can see getting left behind and losing accounts. I thought about a handful of large commercial accounts we had that were sensitive. If someone came in here with this technology, there's no way we could keep them.
Dylan Seals: The restaurant argument is extremely strong. To know at your restaurant as soon as you have a problem before your employees or guests know you have a problem and especially the inspector, that's worth plenty. I don't know how much that's worth a month.
Patrick Baldwin: Not getting shut down and having 24/7 monitoring. When the final mob goes up and the doors are locked and they're gone for the night and that restaurant is closed for the next eight hours, right until prep comes the next morning. When it's quiet, you’ve got these nocturnal animals coming out and doing their thing, the german roaches or whatever. It's still and it's quiet and there's lots of food debris. That's when you want to know what's going on.
Dylan Seals: It’s when Remy is running around and making pasta. Sorry, kids. We’re taking Remy out. He’s not going to be running around playing chef anymore. He and his brother and the pack of rats are done.
Patrick Baldwin: This was fun. I'm jealous of Paul making a trip to Israel. I still need to go to Jerusalem. I want to get this tour with Ronen and go to Jerusalem. This is probably as close as Paul gets to nerd out on pest control technology. It sounds like it was a good time. Dylan, I appreciate you. Thanks for all you do for The Boardroom Buzz. It's incredible. To you, this is like a piece of working art. You've crafted this on a weekly basis and done a heck of a job.
Dylan Seals: You're welcome. You guys do all the hard work and I hang out here in the studio and support you. Erin is here and she does her thing. Also, Eric and Bryan are in Los Angeles. It takes a team to do this. I'm grateful to have been working with you guys for over a year. It's amazing.
Patrick Baldwin: Since they started sounding good.
Dylan Seals: Thank you, Patrick. Thank you for having me on. It's always a pleasure getting to be on The Buzz. It’s always a pleasure to get to work with you. I'm looking forward to seeing you. We’re going to be in Puerto Rico.
Patrick Baldwin: You're going to get ESG and I'll get vaccinated before I go.
Dylan Seals: I've got to watch out.
Patrick Baldwin: Dylan, thanks for stepping in. Paul is somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. Who knows? This was great. I'm glad he was able to make it over there and nerd out with this. Maybe get his hands dirty for once. Who knows? Dylan, have a great one.
Dylan Seals: You, too. Take care.
Dylan here. I want to remind you to go ahead and subscribe to The Boardroom Buzz. We have got some incredible episodes coming up that you're not going to want to miss. Also, if you've enjoyed the podcast, please go to the Apple Podcast app and leave us a short review. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks so much again for reading and we'll see you next time.
Brian Alexson - past episode
Jarl – past episode
John Myers – past episode
Apple Podcast – The Boardroom Buzz