Partnerships Provide Power And Promise For Uinta Pest Solutions

Feb 13, 2024
7 min read
Partnerships Provide Power And Promise For Uinta Pest Solutions
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By Eddie Wooten

Quarantined to his company pickup for lunch during the pandemic, Thomas Harris also found his cab to be the place to think.

“The truck is the safe zone,” he says.

The safe zone to think about how cuts in the pest control technician’s commercial routes left him with less take-home pay. The safe zone to think about how he would tell his wife, Lydia, that he would quit that job to start his own pest control business. 

"I came up with a plan for a week, rehearsed my pitch to the steering wheel, and then I came home," Harris says. "You can't come to the dinner table saying you're going to quit your job and start a company. She's going to blitz you with a hundred questions, and you're not ready for 99 of them.”

Harris, owner of an Airbnb business with his wife to generate another income stream, prepared himself well for that conversation in June 2021. Today, he's a co-owner, with Craig Lindgren, of Uinta Pest Solutions in Sandy, UT, about 20 miles south of Salt Lake City. 

Not only that, Harris formed two other key partnerships to build Uinta but also to pursue larger goals.

The first partnership formed when he chose FieldRoutes, over two others, as his software provider, “the most important asset” to a pest control company.

"I just did a demo," Harris says. "I liked FieldRoutes the best. The day-to-day simplicity of using FieldRoutes: There's no way we're ever changing.”

As for the second, Harris didn't have to look far—not even beyond his back yard. But college senior Madison Burr's on-the-job learning experience as the Harrises' Airbnb assistant and now as the pest control company's day-to-day operations leader, all from 225 miles away in Idaho, has Uinta Pest Solutions poised to expand in 2024.

‘Anywhere in the world’ starts in the Carolinas

Burr, an Idaho Falls resident, is expected to complete work on a business management degree, also remotely, from Colorado State University in spring 2024. Then she plans to move to Charlotte, NC, where she'll work with Patrick Harris, Thomas' brother and a four-year pest control industry veteran, to open a Uinta Pest Solutions franchise to serve North Carolina and South Carolina.

"Madison has never lived in Utah while she's worked for Uinta,” Harris says. “We're already doing out-of-state management."

Burr adds: “It’s just a copy-paste. We can do this anywhere in the world.”

Thomas Harris touts Burr's leadership in Utah: She has coordinated Uinta’s billing, scheduling, customer communication, and relationship management while pursuing her degree. 

"It's the idea of in-house employees becoming owners," Harris says. "The best owner is somebody who put in the time, energy, and effort, who understands each role."

He’s a believer, for another key reason, that Burr can connect Uinta with customers in the Carolinas.

"There's a lot of women in the office," Harris says of the field service industry. "But there's not enough women leading in pest control. Eighty percent of our customers, if not higher, are women."

Harris became acquainted with Burr when she rented the Rustic Nook, a former shed-turned-tiny-home in the Harrises' back yard in Utah and one of a handful of the Harrises’ Airbnb locations. Harris was attending the National Pest Management Association's PestWorld in Boston at the time in October 2022, learned a bit about Burr, and then issued an invitation for her to assist with his Airbnb business' guest and cleaning company communications.

Burr had been searching for such an opportunity, so she accepted. By February 2023, Burr was working full-time with Uinta Pest Solutions as well.

"Spot on," she says of the story. "Couldn't be truer."

Burr now has a year's worth of professional experience in the pest control industry, all while continuing her education.

"I'm building my business acumen and learning the behind-the-scenes thing of people management, human capital management, and business management," Burr says. "All of the base things that are necessary and important to be able to do and to learn and to know how it works, to be able to work in a remote situation, and to be able to manage a business.”

Ambition is one of Burr’s strong suits. She competed as a runner and gymnast for her high school, worked two jobs, and took advanced placement courses.

"All of those things gave me the confidence that I know that I can do these things,” she says. “I know that I am qualified for whatever I'm applying for."

And coming this summer, hundreds of miles from her Idaho home and Uinta’s Utah base, Burr will apply her experience and knowledge in another opportunity.

‘Can we do this?’

While Patrick Harris, who lives just across the border from Charlotte in Rock Hill, SC, will begin forming the first relationships in the Uinta expansion and will treat properties, it’s Madison Burr who is charged with building the customer base. 

She already plans to tap into BNI (Business Network International) and to develop relationships with apartment complex managers and with leaders in commercial, such as restaurants.

"You've got to have recurring revenue to be successful as a business," she says. 

Thomas Harris also says a door-knocking team could help jump-start the operation. 

Uinta is also counting on FieldRoutes to help enable their franchising effort. Uinta, in the past year, has quadrupled its revenue, more than doubled the number of customers with recurring services, and is poised to add a truck, its seventh, for its coverage area that extends from Ogden to Provo along 80 miles of Interstate 15. 

“If you can utilize the information in FieldRoutes, you can do this anywhere because there's more bugs than people and there's more people that hate bugs,” Harris says. “So the customers are there. 

“You've just got to understand how to record the data, utilize that data, cross-sell that data, sell the data if you want to, and then just treat your employees great."

How will he know the Charlotte franchise is working?

"Getting one customer, that's the first line of success," Harris says. "Second is that every day we get 0.1% better. That's a philosophy I try to live by every day. If I could be a tenth of a percent better in my marriage, I think it'll last forever. And that's how I view a partnership."

And it's actually that partnership with Lydia, the original and most important one, and her business knowledge that set him and Uinta Pest Solutions on this path, beginning at the dinner table on that June evening in 2021.

"OK, what happens to your income?" she asked him. "What is your plan to get customers? How are you going to have data?"

She gave him three months to continue to work on a business plan before he quit his previous job. His wife also suggested he stick it out through winter.

"I knew that I could sell," Harris says. "I knew I could find customers. I just went over everything I needed. Insurance. If I cash out my 401(k), I'm going to have enough cash to buy the truck that I need."

Harris rehearsed well for the dinner-table discussion, and now Uinta Pest Solutions continues to develop its plan for this cross-country venture in pursuit of a multimillion-dollar dream. 

“That look on my wife's face is the look that I think about most nights,” Harris says. “'Did I really just screw something up? Can we do this?' Those days are what keep you going when it's hard.

"Knowing that I have the utmost trust and support from my wife gives me the faith that no matter what we do in Charlotte, just getting it up is a huge accomplishment."

Key Statistics

Company revenue quadrupled from 2022 to 2023. 

The number of customers with recurring services more than doubled from 2022 to 2023. 

The company expects to add a truck, its seventh, in 2024.

Uinta’s Thomas Harris on FieldRoutes

What Uinta Pest Solutions' Thomas Harris has to say about FieldRoutes as his software provider:

Growing, scaling, and expanding

"There's more bugs than people. And I think if you have the right software: You should be able to scale with FieldRoutes and you should be able to manage some things remotely."

"This is the most important asset to your company. It's more important than your vehicles. It's as important as the human that runs the software. Without the software, you can't operate legally, all of that. And then, they keep your records for you. It's easy to use. You pick it up, and you just know how to work it.”

"Where you really get into management and leveraging is understanding how to use FieldRoutes, how to understand their marketing, understand how to create customers, and be able to teach that to a team."

The Notes tab on the Customer Card

"It logs every communication that we've had. It allows us to see everything: Who completed it, at what time, which service admin or customer service rep. The properties tab inside the customer card is nice. The way you can link properties together, if you have a customer with multiple homes, is very nice. And for commercial properties, if you use the units tab for an apartment, you can label every single apartment that you sprayed."

Reporting

"I want to know how much money we made. The reporting by billing by service type lets me know that last year we collected 96.8% of our revenue. That leads me to go find the 3.2%, so I can make more money and see who collected the most, what service type was billed, how much money we made in bed bugs or weekly pest control versus monthly."

Marketing Pro

"Simple to use. Easy to use. It doesn't look like a bug guy made the email. We’re a small operation with only six employees. But Marketing Pro makes us feel bigger. We look good."

Support

"Everything we do is with FieldRoutes. They're easy to work with. Anytime we have a question, we just go to FieldRoutes. We could chat with somebody; we could pick up the phone and call. There are Facebook groups from which you could get support from other users. That's been very helpful for me."

FieldRoutes Mobile app

"We have remote locations in which sometimes we're on the side of a mountain without a good internet connection. FieldRoutes allows us to document it, get back into cell service range, and it'll populate back to the office (and the web-based Operations Suite) as soon as we get LTE. The merchant portal is easy to work with. Customers can keep their card on file. It works."

The FieldRoutes Pathfinder Network

"There's a famous saying, 'Your network is your net worth.' So, anytime I can go to a room full of people that are using the same products I am, it only enhances my knowledge. And so, that to me is worth everything."

Learned at IGNITE!

"PDF invoices can be auto sent. We had an HOA community that owed us about $20,000 in August. They just didn't like our email template of the bill, so they wouldn't pay it. At IGNITE, we learned, 'You could just send a PDF with every invoice.' On the last week of the year, we had collected $19,900. They owed us less than $300."

Uinta Pest Solutions

Owners: Thomas Harris and Craig Lindgren

Location: Sandy, Utah

Year Opened: 2021

Technicians: 5

Office Staff: 1

Information: UintaPestSolutions.com, 801.790.0531

In this Case Study
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