Name: Bill Ritz
Job title: Senior Pest Control Technician/Trainer, Ehrlich Pest Control
Location/area covered: Emmaus, Pennsylvania
I run an ongoing residential customer route, providing our Year Round Protection Plan (YRPP) service. I visit my customers at least once every four months to inspect their home and treat any new concerns. Going into someone’s home is a huge responsibility, and there’s an enormous element of trust involved, especially when children and/or pets are present. I work very hard to develop a rapport with my customers and try to take care of their homes as if they were my own. Communication plays a big role in developing these relationships.
The most rewarding aspect for me is the communication. There are many times when I go into an emotional situation – say with stinging insects and children. Talking my customers through something like that and resolving their problem is a great feeling.
I also really enjoy being out and about every day. I’m proud of what I do!
Even when I’m having a bad day, I always try to be happy. I’ve been doing this for 19 years, and it’s amazing the conversations I get into with my customers. You can’t just walk in and start treating someone’s home. I try to look for the little extra things I can do for them – I’ve walked dogs, fixed gutters, stereos, picked up mail, held babies, etc. These things take a bit of extra time, but the end result is that customers trust me.
After 19 years, I can honestly say that 99% of my days are great.
When I first started with Ehrlich, I was called out on a skunk job. The home had a finished basement, and the homeowners were smelling skunk from the basement to the second floor. It’s not unusual for skunks to spray against an exterior home foundation, so I thought this would be a fairly simple trapping job.
I inspected the basement upon arrival. I definitely noticed the skunk odor and a bowing in one area of the ceiling but couldn’t find any animals. I was getting ready to leave when I looked up and saw a skunk walking across the inside of a large fluorescent light fixture. Somehow, this skunk had managed to burrow around the foundation and get in between the void in the ceiling tiles. I caught the skunk using a Havahart trap. Soon after, the homeowners had the foundation repaired and I thought my job was done.
What none of us realized however, was that there was more than one skunk. When the contractors sealed the foundation, they actually sealed a mother skunk and her babies inside the home. I went back out to investigate when the customer reported an even stronger odor several days later. After a bit of coaxing, I was able to trap the remaining skunks.
This was a challenging job because it was odd.
People have asked me to do all sorts of unusual things – I’ve installed air conditioners for elderly customers, retrieved hamsters and cleaned gutters – whatever makes the customer happy.
Probably the situation that most sticks out in my mind is a customer who was extremely allergic to stinging insects. This man’s pride and joy was a koi pond he tended on his property. Unfortunately, wasps had built a nest right next to the pond motor. This was a dangerous situation for my customer, and something had to be done. Unfortunately, because of its proximity to the fish pond, I could not rely on my standard materials to treat the nest and had to do something that would not harm the fish.
Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the best. I put on a protective bee suit, and used a high pressure water jet to disrupt the nest. It’s not how I would normally treat stinging insects, but every customer has different needs.
We put such a focus on service that I’d be hard-pressed to say what could be improved. We always try to send the same technician to a customer’s home and try to keep our prices right. From my perspective, I’m always working to prevent problems for my customers – I don’t want them to have to call with a problem, especially when it’s something I can prevent.
I would love to work in Australia. My dream is to go to the Great Barrier Reef and see the great white shark (in a shark cage, of course!).