As told by Steve Arnold, Peachtree’s Founder The history of Peachtree Pest control is probably no different than thousands of start-up companies across America. Looking back…I loved every bit of my life’s work and wouldn’t change a thing. The challenges and successes have molded me, my family, and hopefully, have provided a positive impact to the industry that I love so very much. I hope you enjoy our story!
In the beginning…
After graduating Gordon High School in 1965, I was drafted into the U.S. Army in April of 1967. The Vietnam era was a difficult one. Fortunately, I was shipped off to Germany rather than face the jungles and rice fields. I spent the next 3 years in the service of Uncle Sam driving tanks. It was an interesting thing being a tanker…but not my life’s work. I was proud to have served my country but knew it was time to return to the states and start the rest of my adult life.
Once back, my initial thoughts were to return to school and work toward my Civil Engineering degree. I had been employed by Allied Engineering of Atlanta prior to being drafted and enjoyed that type of work. But, as we all know, life has a tendency to make other plans for us. As luck would have it, I was in between semesters and couldn’t start at Southern Tech for at least three more months. I couldn’t wait that long and began looking for work. My Brother was a supervisor for Green Pest Control in Atlanta, Georgia and he encouraged me to consider pest control as a career choice. I was interviewed and hired the same day by Mr. George Rasco. For the next few weeks I worked hand and hand with the Manager getting to know as much as possible about the job and the products we were to be using. It would be months of product reviews, tons of technical material and plenty of hands on training from Mr. Rasco.
Mr. Rasco convinced me that one day I could have my own company. He explained that if I paid attention, worked hard, and studied the books he gave me, in a short two years I would qualify for the State Exam. This would give me the license as a State Certified Pest Management Specialist necessary to start my own business. Two years later I passed the exams and had the beginnings of my future laid out.
I now had my Family to consider and committed myself to the trade. I set a goal for myself that I lived with everyday for the next few years. I had committed to myself…”TO BE WELL ON MY WAY TO HAVING MY OWN BUSINESS BY THE TIME I WAS 30″. Some would say I was harsh on myself and that I didn’t allow wiggle room for falling short. My answer… “NO I DIDN’T”. Failure was never an option. It just couldn’t be.
Planting a Peachtree…
At age 28, I founded Peachtree Pest Control Co. Inc. The date was April 1st 1976. April Fool’s Day of all days! Our plan was a simple one. Sell everything including the house, and invest into the company (as little as it was) and down size our overhead. We eliminated everything that wasn’t essential and cut our outlay to the bone. We moved into an apartment in the south side of DeKalb County and opened up our first office in the basement. I can remember sitting there the first evening thinking of all I had to do to make this work, thinking WHAT HAVE I DONE!
The first few weeks were spent cold calling on business and home owners at every turn, my years of preparation were beginning to pay off. For the first few months we did fine. After all, I had hired my best employee and he was showing real leadership skills, A very self-motivated and somewhat head strong individual. He had a serious drive to succeed! If you hadn’t guessed, that guy was me!
It wasn’t long until we hired our first employee! A good man, I knew he was worth the investment and could help add to our company goals. However, it wasn’t long until we found our self a little short on cash flow. I wasn’t sure we would even make payroll. As I drove around that day, I knew something would come along but at that moment I had no clue as to what. While getting gas I noticed that one of my hub caps on our brand new (at least new to us) F-150 pick-up needed a replacement. So I went by a junk yard to get a hub cap and the gentleman behind the counter asked me about the cost of a termite treatment on his home. Yep! I was $750.00 short on payroll and that was my quote. I explained my predicament and the man gave me a check on the spot. I’ll admit that luck played a part in our survival.
I can honestly say I missed many a payday getting Peachtree Pest Control up and running. There were many of those days during our earlier years. I certainly don’t regret the sacrifices now but they were hard to manage back then. Little did I know my life, and the future of Peachtree was about to change again.
Seeds for the future…
In 1978, 2 years after the founding of the company, my son Corey was born. He was almost completely raised right there beside me and his mom in our front office. We had finally moved from the basement apartment into our very first building on North Decatur Rd. in Atlanta. Corey would be placed at the office door in his bouncer seat. I remember his mother commenting he’d worn the hair off the back of his head watching cars pass by the window. Breast feeding was an event also! The MAIL man had to knock twice before coming into the office…just in case! The early years were great.
Our numbers grew at the office from 2 to 5 then 8. It seemed in just a few short years our team had grown and so had our quality reputation. All the while our family grew by one more, my Daughter Pepper! Now the business needed an accounts payable clerk, a payroll department, another administrator. My wife had been all of these things but the kids needed their mother. What was I to do? I sent my wife and the kid’s home and hired my sister in law. Yes… Peachtree truly was and is a family business.
A New Generation…
Years passed and our team, along with gross revenues, grew quite well. We added branches across Atlanta and were happy with our successes. Then, in 1992 I hired my nephew, Jimmy Arnold. Jimmy was a young 19 year old at the time, freshly out of high school, and was very driven. He reminded me much of myself at that age. He quickly learned the business and in a few short years was ready, as I had been, for more responsibility and needed an opportunity of his own. That’s when we decided to open a location in Atlanta, GA. Jimmy jumped at the chance. So, I sent him southward with a truck and a plan. To my delight he excelled and over the next few years our newest branch, along with my nephew, grew into something to be proud.
Meanwhile, my son Corey had graduated from business school at the University of Georgia. He had many years of experience with Peachtree already. Unfortunately for him, I never gave him a summer off. Come to think of it, if he was out of school he was at work. So at the ripe old age of 23 years old my son joined the management team. The seeds of the next generation of leadership had been successfully planted.
There have been many challenges for Peachtree over the years. The economy tanked more than once, we made it through an oil embargo, and through the hyperinflation years of Jimmy Carter. We’ve had unemployment claims, insurance claims, auto accidents, and yes… even a few law suits over the years. There are many stories along the road to running your own business. Corey and Jimmy have heard them all at least twice. I hope I’m not getting senile, but I’ll admit it’s possible. Run a business for darn near 40 years and see how crazy you become.
Over the years I’ve served as the Greater Atlanta Pest Control Association as well as the Georgia Pest Control Association President. I’ve authored Books to further educate our industry, and best of all I have been a party to the remaking of an industry. I’ve known many great individuals along the way. I owe each of them a debt of gratitude for what they’ve done for me personally and for Peachtree Pest. Thanks…you know who you are. I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out the loving support and encouragement of my wife Nell. The rigors of running your own business can be challenging to say the least. Without my wife the successes we’ve enjoyed over the years wouldn’t have been possible. A very special thanks to her.
Today, Peachtree Pest Control enjoys the youthful vigor of a second generation. My son, Corey Arnold and nephew, Jimmy Arnold; serve as President and Vice President of the company. They have lead our team to a regional footprint…something I had always hoped we could become. They are good men with a strong foundation of ethics and industry knowledge. Each of them have the heart for service necessary to succeed in the business world. I couldn’t be more proud to see my company continue on under their adept leadership.
It is that faith and trust that I pass on to you MY Customer and can assure you your trust and faith in Peachtree is well founded. I, my boys, and their team are eager to serve you’re every need in the pest management fields. And so, to my customer I say thank you for the trust, the business, and the lifetime full of memories you helped to create. I couldn’t have done it without you.
With a servants heart,
Stephen M. Arnold
Peachtree Pest Control Co, Inc.