Ehrlich Volunteers for Military Makeover with Montel Williams

Military Makeover

Meet our volunteers

Delivering a safe, pest-free home to the Hixons was job number one. Ehrlich called in our best-of-the-best in Florida to keep the family and their home protected from pests. Learn more about this dedicated team of experts and what helping the Hixons meant to them.

Pictured above from left to right: Markeith Phillips, Shawn Collier, Jess Turner, Dennis Bacerio, Desiree Straubinger, Mike St. Clair, Chris Gibbs, and Royal DeGroff.

Mike St. Clair - Sr. Vice President of Sales and Marketing and Army veteran

As Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Rentokil North America, Ehrlich's parent company, Mike is responsible for the revenue and market share growth of Rentokil North America’s service brands, including pest control companies Rentokil, Ehrlich, Presto-X, and Western Exterminator, along with Ambius, and Steritech. 

Mike was as an aviation officer in the U.S. Army, serving a distinguished career of eight years; he also served for two years in the Mississippi National Guard. After leaving the service, Mike joined the business world, working for a variety of service-oriented companies before joining Rentokil in 2015.

As a proud veteran, Mike took a personal interest in participating in the home makeover and was responsible for authorizing Ehrlich's contributions to and participation in the event. 

"Christopher Hixon dedicated his life to protecting the lives of others, first through the U.S. Navy, then as a dedicated and beloved teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, doing whatever necessary to protect the students under his care," said St. Clair of the decision to participate in the Military Makeover series. "It is Ehrlich's great privilege to give back to his family and honor his legacy by protecting them and their new home from pests.

Jess Turner – Service Team Lead, District Manager and Army Veteran

Jess Turner joined Ehrlich in 2014, after serving in the Army for five years. She had planned on a lifelong Army career, but after a scary health-related accident, was medically discharged. Heartbroken and discouraged, Jess was intent on finding a career that would allow her to help serve and protect others. She found her perfect match in Ehrlich. In her day-to-day role, Jess manages a team of 18 Operations Managers, Pest Specialists, and sales professionals in Ft. Myers, Florida, protecting both residential and business customers from pests and the health dangers and damages they can cause. 

Jess was deeply touched by the Hixon family's story and volunteering for Military Makeover was a personal mission for her. "It was an absolute honor and humble experience to be able to support the Hixons as they carry on Christopher's legacy," Jess emotionally recounts. "This was a lifetime memory and experience for me, and I'm so appreciative of the opportunity to bring Ehrlich's mission of protecting people to this special family." 

Jess led the team on implementing Ehrlich's pestfree365 program, which includes coverage against more than 36 common pests, including mice, ants, cockroaches, stinging pests, and more. 

In addition to her role as Ehrlich team leader (and top cheerleader for the rest of the team), Jess also volunteered for other parts of the home renovation, lending a hand with various tasks on the job site to ensure that the Military Makeover team could have a stunning reveal for the Hixons. 

Dennis Bacerio – Termite Team Lead, District Manager

With more than 40 years of termite experience with national pest control companies, Dennis Bacerio is an expert on these tiny, hungry destructive pests, which are a serious problem for homeowners in Florida. On normal days, you can find Dennis leading our Oliver team as District Manager, overseeing 23 Termite Specialists. 

For this special project, Dennis headed up the trio of Ehrlich's termite experts who performed a thorough inspection of the Hixon home and yard before the renovation, and then worked together to install a termite baiting and monitoring system to provide continuous protection against termites at the Hixon home. 

"This was an awesome experience," said Dennis of the Military Makeover process. "I've participated in similar events in the past, but I've never had an experience quite like this one, with the multitude of people, the cameras, and everyone doing their part to help the Hixon family after such a tragedy."

Shawn Collier – Termite Specialist

Pest control runs in the Collier family blood. Shawn has worked in the pest control industry for five years, and currently serves as a Termite Specialist in our Oliver District out of Medley, Florida. His father is also a 17-year veteran of the company. For this young Specialist, it's all about building strong relationships with his customers and ensuring that they are protected from destructive termites. 

Shawn was excited to be part of the Military Makeover volunteer team. "When I heard all that the Hixon's had been through, I was overwhelmed," he said. "I have so much respect for our military, and I was honored to be there to help the family." 

After initial identification of termite activity at the Hixon home prior to renovation, Shawn worked alongside Markeith and Dennis to ensure that the Hixon home's termite baiting and monitoring program was installed properly to offer continuous protection against termites.

Royal DeGroff – Service Team, Certified Trainer and Pest Specialist IV

Royal DeGroff has been a Pest Specialist with Ehrlich for five years and is a resident of Hollywood, Florida, where the Hixons live. For him, being part of helping the Hixon family took on extra meaning, because it was a chance to support someone from his community. His family has worked in the same school districts with Chris and Debra over the years, making his connection to the project even more meaningful. 

In addition to his duties as a Pest Specialist, in 2019 Royal was selected to be part of Ehrlich's first team of Certified Field Trainers, an elite group of experienced Specialists who help to train and onboard Ehrlich's newest service team members. 

"It was definitely rewarding to see a local family get that kind of help when they are in need," said Royal of the opportunity to lend a hand. "I've never done anything like that before, and it was very cool to see it first hand.

Chris Gibbs - Regional Director

As a Regional Director covering much of the state of Florida, Chris was responsible for assembling the team of volunteers that worked on the Hixon home. With over two decades of tenure with Ehrlich and its parent company, Rentokil, Chris has traveled the world with the company, guiding pest control service teams in the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Germany before moving to the States to first lead a team in Baltimore, and then heading to Florida. 

But for Chris, no matter where he goes in the world, providing service to others looks the same. He proudly espouses the company's core values of Service, Teamwork, and Relationships, so it's no surprise that participating in Military Makeover came back to those values for him. 

"Beyond being the right thing to do, it was extremely humbling to be part of this event," says Chris. "The experience meant so much to our Colleagues and so many others. Watching all of these people from different walks of life come together to support this family was very moving."

Jorge Montano – District Manager

Working out of Ehrlich's Ft. Lauderdale District, Jorge oversees a team of Specialists conducting service in the greater Ft. Lauderdale area. 

Working hand in hand with Dennis to conduct initial termite inspections at the Hixon home. While he wasn't on site during filming for Military Makeover, his thorough work at the property helped to guide the service team as they installed the bait stations and monitors at the property.

Markeith Phillips – Termite Specialist

A dedicated Termite Specialist whose favorite part of his job is interacting with customers and learning new things every day, Markeith has nearly five years of pest control industry experience, the last three with Ehrlich. 

For Military Makeover, Markeith was part of a trio that worked on inspecting the Hixon home for termites and installing a baiting and monitoring program that will offer them continuous protection against the home-destroying pests. This team identified termite activity prior to renovation, making their work especially important to keep any termites in the area from invading their new home. 

"It was really an honor to be part of Military Makeover and know that our company is so committed to lending a hand to a family that has sacrificed so much for others," said Markeith, who says that meeting the show's host Motel Williams was a bonus part of the experience. "I've never been part of something like this before and it was really fun to see the cameras, the hosts, and all of the production."

Desiree Straubinger - Technical Director

A nearly twenty-year veteran of the commercial pest control industry, Desiree is the Market Technical Director for the Southeast Market, providing technical support and expertise for 50 districts. Desiree has a Bachelor of Science in Entomology from Purdue University and is a Board Certified Entomologist. 

"It was really incredible and fulfilling to give back to the Hixons after they have been through so very much," says Desiree. "I come from a military family – my sister is deployed right now, and my dad was in the Army – so that made this chance to help another military family really special." 

A confessed home improvement show junkie, Desiree loved the opportunity to lend a hand on the Hixon home. In addition to providing technical support for the Ehrlich service team, Desiree rolled up her sleeves and helped to paint, carry sod, and generally do whatever was needed to help the home come together in the hours before the big reveal.



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