Bert Dodson, Jr.
My father in 1944 was 18 years old established our company with one of my uncles, who was 29, who had just returned from serving in the merchant marine during WWII. He had previous pest control experience and then brought another brother on in the late 40s, and that’s how the name Dodson Brothers Exterminating Company originated.
And he sold a bunch of pigs for $450 and bought a vehicle. One time, he told me years ago, in Danville, he was doing some pest control services. He drove down to Danville, and it was not 29 like it is now, okay, it was kind of a winding road. And he stayed in the truck which was a chemical truck. Back in the early 50s, late 40s, they were not set up like we are now. And he slept in the truck, got up first thing in the morning, went to the train station where he was parked, cleaned up, and did some pest control at a restaurant. He bartered it for his breakfast. And so, if he didn’t give very good service, he wouldn’t have gotten a thing for breakfast.
We care about people who care about us. We have a lot of incentive programs, a lot of benefits in our company. We have a lot of good training and motivation. It’s the people doing the work. My father always said that anybody can buy the vehicles or the materials, but it’s the people doing the work. We care about our people greatly and we’ve been in business since 1944. When you do the math is over 70-some years, so you’ll deal with peaks and valleys. Not everything is going to be great all the time. There are days that are like jewels, and there days that are like rocks, and you have to learn how to work your way through them.
We’ve grown a great deal. We’re one of the largest family owned pest control companies in the country. We’re actually, as far as family owned, the top ten, like 6th or 7th, as far as family owned. We’re not franchised. We cover obviously 5 states and we have over 600 team members, and at the present, over 117,000 accounts. So, saying that, it was built year by year, customer by customer, and we want to take care of our customers, because they’re the ones who write the paychecks. I always tell our team members, “If we don’t take care of our customers, somebody else will.”
You’re going to have successes and you’re going to have failures. When you go out on your own, you take a lot of risks, as far as monetary risks, people change professions, they give up a good paying job, good benefits and start out on their own. It takes a lot of time and sacrifice. You’ve got to work 6 or 7 days a week. You’ve got to have a plan, though.
I think most people who open up companies, they do not have a plan or even lucky to stay open after 3 or 5 years. I’ve talked with people about other enterprises and I’ve asked them, “Give me your business plan.” and they go, “Well, what’s a business plan?” So I think, not everybody is going to be successful, and for the ones who will be successful, you need to have a plan and the monetary background to go forward.
A lot of people think that Lynchburg is a small town. We’re a medium sized city for the state of Virginia, but as far as big overall view of the united states, we’re a small town. I served on city council from July 1, 1998, to June 30, 2010, and I dealt with a lot of corporate leaders in the community and I always heard from the large employers who were multistate or multinational that it was hard to get people to come here because of the size of the city, but once they got here, they couldn’t get them to move anywhere else. They wanted to stay here. It’s a great place for families. the crime rate, obviously, is a very low percentage. We’ve got the mountains right up in our back door, the ocean 4 hours away, D.C. 3 1/2 hours away. It’s a great change of the seasons. It’s a wonderful place to live, I believe.
We take a percentage of our profits and give to nonprofit groups. We believe the good Lord blessed us and we bless others. The board of directors in the company, my mother, my two sisters, and myself, decide each December. We want to give back. Habitat for Humanity that’s in Lynchburg, we’ve soil treated for termites every house that has been built in the last 20-25 years, it could be almost 30 now, that’s over 300 homes and giving back to the community. You have to give back to the community. That’s what you need to do. You just can’t take it for yourself.
I say that, you have to think about sacrifice, but the main thing is don’t get discouraged. Winners do things that losers don’t want to do. Winners always have a plan to keep on pushing. Professional athletes, very successful professional athletes, they keep working out 12 months out of the year, they keep pushing, you’ve got to keep pushing and you’ve got to remain positive. Remember, the sky is full of the sun every day. There might be some clouds a few days, but there’s always sun above the clouds. There’s always another opportunity down the line to be successful and work hard toward your goals.
About Bert Dodson
Inspired by his father's hard work and success, Bert Dodson, Jr. recounts some of his top tips for entrepreneurs.
|Date Added||September 15, 2019|
Dodson Bros. Exterminating Co., Inc. was founded in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1944 by Bert Dodson, Sr. and his older brother Robert. A few years later, another brother Arthur came on board, and together the three brothers built the foundation of the present day company. In the early 1960’s, Bert Dodson, Sr. purchased his brothers’ shares, and today Dodson Bros. has grown to become one of the largest family-owned pest control companies in North America. Dodson Pest Control currently operates 37 offices serving Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Eastern Tennessee, and the District of Columbia metropolitan area.