Presto-X Pest Control History

Ward Combs grew up in the Miller Park area of Omaha, Nebraska. During the summer of 1932, Mr. Combs, having recently graduated from Central High School, was working at the local drug store intending to pursue a university degree in pharmacy, when his father was stricken by a cerebral hemorrhage and unable to return to work.

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Ward, the oldest of three children, was forced to find full-time employment in order to support his mother and family. 

The family doctor encouraged Ward to try selling “Presto-Pax” – a red squill formulation used to induce vomiting in humans or to eliminate bats. This marked the humble beginnings of what would become Presto-X.

The Start of Presto-X

Mr. Combs’s first contract was with the then Eppley Hotel Company chain. Soon Ward was offered $35.00 to treat hotels in the Sioux City, Iowa, region for rats and bed bugs.

The first Presto-X workplace was in the office of the same family doctor that had encouraged Ward to find full-time employment. Ward mixed his baits and “insecticide dust” in the doctor’s x-ray room, carrying his secret formulations around in a big black bag to his various clients.

By the early ‘50s, Presto-X-Company had outgrown the doctor’s office and moved into its first official headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska.

In 1968, Ward celebrated his 25th consecutive year of attendance at the Purdue University Pest Control Conference. 

The most valuable information he acquired at these conferences was that the most successful organizations were made up of the most technically competent personnel. He continually strived to provide opportunity and encouragement for his staff to grow.

Ward Combs retired in 1990, leaving the company in the capable hands of Ward Combs II and Jerry Keown.

Presto-X Today

Presto-X joined Rentokil’s North America Pest Control group in 2008 and provides service to the central United States.

Today Presto-X is part of Rentokil’s North American Pest Control operations, with over 1800 colleagues providing service to the central and eastern United States.

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