Here at City Wide Exterminating, we have a deep commitment to the customers we serve. As a part of that community commitment, we want people to get to know us a little bit better, and getting to know us means first and foremost getting to know the people who make the company what it is.
In this entry of our staff interview series, we talk to Wildlife Service Manager Chris Hunnicutt about working at City Wide.
- Hey Chris! So to start, how long have you been working in the industry?
I’ve been working in the industry in some capacity for about 20 years. I started off working part time while in college, but I’ve been full-time for almost 20 years now.
- I understand that you’ve spent that entire 19+ years at City Wide. What do you think sets City Wide apart from other pest control companies?
Well, we work incredibly hard to make it our main priority to do things at a really high level. When we’re looking for new members to join our team, we look for people who are passionate and driven to do exceptional work. We also think it’s essential that every person is properly trained and educated because when we hire someone, we look at them as in it for the long-haul.
We want to hire good people, grow their skills, and then have them be a part of our team for a long time. I think that makes the quality of our team much higher than the average.
- Can you talk a little bit about training?
Training is really important to us. I’m on the National Wildlife Control Operators Association (NWCOA), and on that board I’m developing a lot of training resources to make our team the best. Like many trade associations, being a part of NWCOA, means that I’m also helping to make our industry better as a whole (competitors included), which really illustrates the sense of fraternity within the pest management industry. We might all work for different companies, but we still want to make the industry better and safer overall.
- Speaking of the team: How much of a factor is teamwork in your position? Would you describe it as a job that requires a lot of teamwork?
Teamwork is critical. On almost every job, there’s a need for a small team of 2-3 people, so teamwork is inherent to that side of the job. But even when people are working solo, there’s always a lot of communication happening to make sure everyone has an opportunity to go home at a decent time. For example, one might finish their schedule for the day, but they’re always reaching out to see if they need a hand. It’s so heartening to see that level of teamwork and communication on a regular basis.
- From your perspective, what are the most essential things that define City Wide’s culture?
Other than the teamwork side of things, I truly view City Wide as its own version of a family. Even when people are off work they’re usually communicating. There are group chat text threads that go on between co-workers even during off hours, and you know there’s a lot of banter happening in those chats.
Some of us even go to the gym together, hike together, run together, ride bikes together. A few of us have even run spartan races together. So whether you want to call it family or a group of friends, it’s the piece of City Wide’s culture that sticks out to me more than anything else.
- Let’s switch things up a bit: What is your favorite part about the job?
My favorite part is definitely the problem solving side of things. I find it even more rewarding if it’s the sort of problem that’s gone unsolved for awhile – you get to come in and solve this long-term issue and make it right for someone who’s really looking for help. Part of that is the hands-on feel of fixing the issue, and part of it is just the opportunity to help people. It’s rewarding. I rest easy knowing they’re going to rest easy.
- Craziest thing that you’ve seen on the job?
I get this a lot, but it’s honestly dependent on a person’s fears. Some people might think I’m crazy, because I’ll walk right up to a skunk in a cage and just pick it up. For some, they can’t imagine anything more terrifying than that. Or if I have to grab a snake out of an attic, and some people find that to be the craziest thing that they can imagine.
So while maybe I haven’t necessarily experienced something I personally view as crazy, I’ve found empathy is so important. We need to understand that customers are dealing with something that might be terrifying to them even though it might just be everyday stuff to us. I’m happy to say I do think we do a good job of being empathetic.
- How has the pandemic changed the job?
Internally, we’ve shifted to doing many things virtually. We have a lot of measures in place to protect both our customers and team. But we definitely miss our in person gatherings of pre-pandemic work. On the service side of things, we’ve noticed more people at home or working from home find or recognize more pest problems. Something that may have gone unnoticed for awhile due to work, travel, etc. is now being recognized while home.
- What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
I’m big into the gym. I’m not much of a runner, but I do enjoy going on walks with my wife and kids. I have a 7 year old and 2 year old, and we like taking bike rides, going to the park, or just kicking the ball. I also love to travel with my wife. Obviously we haven’t had that opportunity much this past year, but I’m more than ready to go anywhere with warm weather and pretty beaches.
- Describe City Wide in one word.
I can’t pick just one, but I can keep it to two. Teamwork and fraternity. That really defines what City Wide Exterminating is all about.