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Anderson Pest Solutions aims to hire right

Chicago Tribune
Placing a value on employee retention

Gloria Callaway, an eight-year employee of Anderson Pest Solutions, can't say enough about the Elmhurst company's family atmosphere.

But the customer service representative felt even more appreciative one day in July as she drove home to her Country Club Hills home.

Earlier that day an errant truck had struck her car as it sat in the company parking lot, smashing its back window.

While Callaway was on the phone to her insurer, she saw company President Mark O'Hara and Vice President Roger Peterson busy vacuuming out the broken glass that had collected inside her car.

"I was in total shock looking at my car. The window was out. The top hood was dented."

There had only been a drizzle earlier, so she wasn't concerned about water damage to her 2011 Corolla. But her bosses were looking ahead, luckily for her.

"They wrapped my whole back window. When I got ready to go home, it was raining cats and dogs, but not much rain got in," Callaway said.

O'Hara also offered use of a company car if she needed it.

The family-owned business ranks as the No. 34 small company on the Chicago Tribune's Top Workplaces list, according to a survey conducted by Exton, Pa.-based consulting firm WorkplaceDynamics.

The 101-year-old company provides residential and commercial pest protection. It has eight offices in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin.

"We try to be as family-oriented as possible, even as we grow," said Vice President JT Barnard, grandson of the company's founder, who oversees the service and sales team.

Employees provide feedback on their supervisors. Town hall meetings keep its 200-plus workers abreast of developments and goals.

Many stay for decades.

At each annual awards night, the company recognizes one or two employees with 30 or more years at the company.

"Last year I was able to give out an award to an individual my grandfather hired," Barnard said. "We've never had a year of declining sales growth in the company and never had layoffs, which is huge in any industry."

There are lots of internal promotions — 18 in the past three years — "which speaks to the culture that we have here and our growth as well," Barnard said. "As we grow into a 300-person operation, we're still a family."

The company has a formal mentoring program for new hires, which matches them up with other employees, and does much to make sure they are good matches for Anderson.

Each employee goes through two to three rounds of interviews.

"We have a fairly rigorous interview process. It gives us, as well as the candidate, time to better know each other," he said.

There are also ride-alongs, enabling potential hires to shadow employees as they work at a client site.

"We're having those multiple touches to make sure it's a right fit for both sides," he said.

Client service manager Heather Lopez, 38, said when she started at Anderson four years ago she was struck that O'Hara addressed customer service reps by name.

"I come from a call center background," said Lopez, a Sugar Grove resident. "I thought, 'That's odd. He knows their names.' I was able to see from day one the difference in how employees were treated. I knew I was really going to like this company."

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