Who Runs the World (Girls!): Meet the Women of Pest-End
September 22, 2021
Since 1982, September 22 has been designated as “American Business Women’s Day.” The purpose is to recognize the “contributions and accomplishments of the millions of U.S. women in the workforce, and women business owners.”
At Pest-End, we have plenty to celebrate.
Flipping the Script
For an industry traditionally dominated by men, it’s rarer to see women in leadership or ownership positions in professional pest management. Just look at the numbers: In 2016, the US Department of Labor reported that, of the 79,000 people employed in the industry, a mere 3.25% were women.
Since 1986, Pest-End has featured a woman at its helm. Nancy Carace, alongside her husband, Andy, ran the company until its sale in 2020 to their children, Amanda Forrestall, Adam Carace, and Adam’s wife, Courtney Carace. This second-generation first embraced the company’s daily operations back in 2015 and, five years later, debuted on PCT’s 2020 Top 100 list.
As Pest-End enters its second generation of female ownership, we were curious as to Nancy, Amanda, and Courtney’s thoughts about women in pest management and how they perceive their roles and responsibilities as female ambassadors within it.
Meet Nancy Carace, a woman who has helped to pave the way for women in the industry since she and her husband, Andy purchased Pest-End in 1986. During her time as owner, she had the title of Pest-End’s president, among many other unofficial roles. Nancy made technology a priority for the business, pushing for the development of applications and software specifically for pest control. Unlike other business leaders, Nancy loved fielding actual customer calls, which required her expertise and a level of compassion to listen and solve unique problems.
“It sure was different 35 years ago. I guess it was difficult dealing with some people who wouldn’t take you seriously in business, or they would say, ‘can you have Andy give me a call?’ I didn’t put up with that long.”
Nancy’s unapologetic determination and commitment to her customers and employees helped to drive Pest-End’s impressive growth over the years.
“It took two amazing women to take over my role. I am beyond blessed to have Amanda and Courtney steering the ship alongside Adam.”
Growing up watching Nancy lead Pest-End, Amanda Forrestall, CFO of Pest-End, is no stranger to the presence of strong women in the industry. However, she recognizes that the number of women working in pest management has been disproportionate. “I remember going to training seminars and conferences with my dad and counting, on one hand, the other females in the room.”
The trend is shifting, with more women encouraged to consider careers in pest management. According to Amanda, it’s really a natural fit. “I have seen so many more female technicians get involved and make this into a career. The customer service aspect and health and safety perspective are just the beginning as to why women are drawn to this industry.”
It turns out that women might even be uniquely suited for this professional path — no offense, fellas. “Women see the connection to their communities, by servicing public health buildings, schools, restaurants. It gives them a sense of pride to know they are helping protect the community and people living in it.”
Customers appreciate seeing female technicians answer their calls, too. According to Jen Fox, compliance manager for Terminix, dubbed the “bug whisperer,” women are ideal candidates for pest management careers. “Where females shine is customer service, having empathy. When a woman pest control operator shows up, that can break the ice (with a customer) and she can get right to work because the interaction is warm, friendly.”
As Amanda points out, the industry is taking notice and encouraging more women to pursue the pest management profession. “Another huge change was the development of the Professional Women in Pest Management (PWIPM). This organization, as well as Facebook groups, have helped women in the industry stay connected and spread the word about joining the industry.”
Connection and education about these possibilities of pest management will be key to recruiting more women. Between the flexible hours and abundance of management opportunities, it’s fair to say that, with increased awareness, we will see more female exterminators breaking through the pest control glass ceiling.
Courtney Carace, COO of Pest-End, owns and runs the business alongside her husband, Adam, and sister-in-law, Amanda. She, too, has experienced firsthand what it means to be a woman working in the pest management industry.
“When I first began attending continuing education seminars in my early twenties to maintain my pesticide licenses, I was one of a handful of women in the room. Now, ten years later, there are far more women present and engaged in the classes.”
She credits the industry itself with promoting the profession to women and creating official outlets to help recruit, train, and celebrate women in these roles.
“Pest control companies and our state, regional, and national associations have really promoted the importance of women in the industry. There are various awards and industry magazines that celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of women as well. From the national and local chapters of Professional Women in Pest Management to hold the Women’s Forum, there is an emphasis on the involvement of women and the critical roles we play in all aspects of the industry.”
Pest-End prioritizes all women in the company, recognizing the value every one of them brings to the table, regardless of their role. “From positions in management to sales and marketing to customer service to service technicians, all of the women at Pest-End play such an integral role in our culture and success as a company.”
Breaking Up the Boys’ Club
Perhaps another thing that women should know about the amazing possibilities waiting for them in pest management is the sense of a supportive community.
According to Courtney, “Women genuinely supporting other women in the industry is something that cannot be understated. It is not an industry where women are in constant competition with each other, trying to best each other in the race to the top. The camaraderie is truly remarkable and it is something, in my opinion, that is quite unique to our industry.”
What Glass Ceiling?
When it comes to owning a business, whether in pest management or any other industry, the female leaders at Pest-End encourage all women to take the risk, dare to go big, and reap the rewards that business ownership has to offer.
But don’t go it alone. Network and connect with a mentor who will offer support and expertise when you’re in need of answers or advice. Create a community of like-minded women who share your values in order to build a business and be brand-worthy of your efforts and energy.
When the going gets tough, just remember the words of Executive Heidi Roizen, “The glass ceiling doesn’t apply when you’re building your own house.”
Ladies, start drafting those blueprints. Or come check out ours and apply for a position with the Pest-End team today!
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