|Volume 12, Issue 4||
|Owner Eric Ufer with a Pest Solutions LLC vehicle|
Eric Ufer says his company, Pest Solutions LLC., “exists to protect people and property, while being as green as can be.” They achieve that goal by going beyond the typical arsenal of poisons and “out of the box” remedies, and studying the science behind each pest problem. “We strive to resolve the issues that are causing pests to become a problem,” says Ufer. One of the company’s latest ventures is to distribute owl nesting boxes to customers who have large, wide open areas and rodent problems. Encouraging a growing owl population is a completely “green” solution.
Ufer was a fixture around Cedar Mill when he was involved with Milltown Soccer. In 2001, he began coaching a team that his son Isaac was on. Eventually, he says, “The club was just falling apart.” He had some extra time, since he had recently stopped working as a stockbroker, so he took on the job of club President. “I was able to work with the volunteers to create a more stable organization, and to build a lot more enthusiasm for the club. We were able to grow the number of kids we served from 700 to 1500. We partnered with the Timbers, and got some great opportunities for the kids to attend games, meet players, and have a lot more fun.” He was President from 2009-2011, and continued coaching until about a year ago.
He says that his experience with Milltown has helped him a lot in his new venture. “As a stockbroker, I was more on my own. Working with 30 volunteers and hundreds of coaches in the club taught me how to delegate, and how to get people to accept accountability for their work,” he says. And one of his associates at Milltown, Lisa Draper, is now his Office Manager. “Lisa took on the job of Registrar, which was critical to getting the club organized. Her daughter was on my team. The way she handled all the paperwork let me do my job in promoting the team, recruiting families, and finding opportunities.”
How does someone go from trading stocks to eradicating pest problems? “My wife Stacey and I have some rental apartments in Bethlehem, PA. We acquired them when I found out that a new casino was going to be built on the site of the old Bethlehem Steel plant. Once the casino went in, housing was very much in demand. Bethlehem went from being a very depressed economy in the Rust Belt, to being prosperous. But around 2006, we began to have a horrible bedbug infestation. We had to do something, and I really didn’t like the idea of just using poisons.”
“I looked at the traditional pest control services we were using—lack of efficacy, safety, inconvenience to our tenants, and exorbitant costs (both in lost revenues and sky-high pest control charges)—and decided we could do better,” he said.
|A stuffed skunk sits on a shelf in the office to keep an eye on things.|
He did some research, and came up with a solution that uses cedar oil, among other things. He realized that he could help other property and home owners in his situation. He started Pest Solutions in January, 2011. “I was on my own for the first several months. That summer I hired Lisa to handle the office work. We now have 11 employees and we’re growing fast.”
One of his first big jobs was handling pest control at the Timbers’ home field, Providence Park. (It was Jeld-Wen Field when they began.) “The management already knew and trusted me from my work with Milltown. At the time, it was just me and Mark, one of our techs who was an experienced pest control worker. We just said ‘yes’ and rolled up our sleeves and got busy!” The client is very happy with their work.
Ufer’s not afraid of hard work, and he doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. He grew up in the small town of Centralia, Washington, where he began working for neighbors when he was in the fourth grade—splitting wood, mowing lawns, and cleaning gutters.
He attended Portland State and earned a degree in Finance, and worked for several companies as a stockbroker—part analyst and part advisor. Eventually he realized that he just didn’t like the corporate investment world. He was traveling too much, and wanted to spend more time with his family. He’s always been creative and enjoys solving problems. Growing Pest Solutions into a successful business offered the kind of challenge he was looking for, and it also satisfied his desire to contribute to sustainability and health.
One of the things he likes best about his company is that they can guarantee their results for most types of pests. “You couldn’t do that as a stockbroker,” he laughs. Because they treat the sources of the problem, in most cases the pests don’t come back.
They work on both commercial and residential properties, and count some of the area’s biggest institutions as customers. Restaurants and bars, several local prison properties, entertainment complexes, condominium and apartment communities, and of course residences appreciate their professionalism, speed, and discretion.
Pest Solutions knows that the character of their technicians is critical to their success. It isn’t enough to have a pesticide license. People who come into your home or place of business need to be trustworthy as well as effective. The owner of Toro Bravo, Tasty & Sons, and Interurban restaurants gave a testimonial about Mark, one of their technicians. “He is by far the most reasonable, reliable and thorough person we have worked with, and we have worked with a lot! He does our three restaurants and our rental house. I trust that he uses safe products, plus he’s just genuinely a really nice, honest guy. Mark rocks!”
Ufer enjoys the research and experimentation that is needed to find green solutions to pest problems. “I hire great techs, and encourage them to expand their knowledge and practices. I love it when they come up with new solutions.”
They recently brought Melissa Wright of Affordable Wildlife Response onto their team. Their newsletter says, “Melissa does a terrific job resolving nuisance wildlife issues for commercial and residential clients. This includes resolving unwanted skunk, squirrel, raccoon, possum, beaver, nutria, bird, rodent, mole, and other issues. Her decade of experience and great attitude are greatly welcomed at Pest Solutions, as we are now a One-Stop Shop that resolves ANY pest issue—all while being “Green As Can Be.”
Pest Solutions were first on the scene when a pair of male eagles was entangled in a tree in southeast Portland recently. “We were happy to help coordinate with other local experts, the Audubon Society, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. We helped organize their arrival to assist the two bald eagles stuck together in the tree for seven hours, to help ensure the best outcome for all.”
|They can install custom owl boxes to control rodents in large, open areas.|
Ufer started the business from the basement of his home. The company now occupies a suite in the Best HQ building on Beaverdam Road in Beaverton. Best HQ (besthq.net) is a “collaborative business community and executive development center” that provides office space, coaching, training and networking to entrepeneurs. Ufer says, “Being part of BestHQ has been huge, as you are around other like-minded people who are working hard to build good, successful businesses.”
For Pest Solutions, “Being green as can be” means not only using the safest, most natural products possible to get the job done, but also adopting more sustainable practices in other areas of the business. Ufer hopes to include all-electric cars to their fleet of Priuses as the company grows.
Underscoring the success of their business, they were recently notified that they had been nominated for the Small Business Administration’s “Rising Star” award for 2014, as one of the best new, rapidly growing businesses in Oregon and SW Washington.
Visit their website, www.pestsolutionsllc.com, or call them at 503-895-2510 to find out how they can help you solve your pest problem.
Published monthly by Pioneer Marketing & Design
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291