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 our most recent staff interview, we talk to wildlife control agent Zach Roach about his experience in the field, what life on the job is like, and what makes City Wide’s culture so special.
- Hi Zach! First question: What is your background in pest control?
I’ve done trapping and hunting for basically my whole life. Country boy style, I was trapping and hunting as a hobby, and after doing that when I got a bit older I thought, “Hey, what could be better than doing this for a living?” So at that point, I ended up getting a job at City Wide as a wildlife specialist, which I’ve been doing now for 4 years. I have a 2 and 4 yr old so I hunt and trap less in my free time than I used to, but lately I’ve had a little time to get back into it again.
- Tell me a little bit about what it’s like being a wildlife specialist. What does your average day look like?
Every day is different, even if I’m dealing with the same animal species. For example, yes all raccoons have some similar characteristics, but every animal is very different from the next. As far as the technical process behind our wildlife process, it has 3 main components: threat assessment, exclusion, and the actual trapping. So on my average day I’m doing one – if not all of those things at various times.
- Which animal do you deal with the most?
Typically you’ll have a rush of different animal cycles at different parts of the season — first it’s skunks and raccoons, and then it transitions into birds and bats. As far as the wildlife I’m actually dealing with the most on the whole, I’d say a lot of the time I’m looking at squirrels and bats — although some of them are also migratory, so it varies.
I treat every job as professionally as possible. We make it a priority at City Wide to do everything humanely. Assessment of the situation is one of the most important pieces of that process, because sometimes people will trap animals themselves and then release them. That self catch and release can make wildlife a lot more difficult to catch, because they’ll learn how to avoid some of our tactics from their first capture.
If I had any advice for folks, I’d say don’t try to catch any critters on your own! For one, it can be unsafe, and two, it can mean that if and when the animal comes back into your home or onto your property, it will be a whole lot harder to get rid of. Call us the first time around.
- Which animals are the most difficult to deal with?
Overall the most difficult creature that we deal with are raccoons. They’re surprisingly smart, agile, flexible, and they can tear stuff up and cause damage really quickly. They can climb about anything possible too. If there are young raccoon pups inside a home, you don’t want to take the mama away (it’s inhumane), so timing is everything when it comes to raccoons. The scope of what you have to do can be tricky as well.
- How much of a factor is teamwork in your position? Would you describe it as a job that requires a lot of teamwork?
On average I think teamwork is important right from the beginning stage. Our wildlife service coordinator, Karla, is setting everything up right from the get go: taking calls and scheduling. Then it gets kicked to me and the wildlife team to get ready for set up and service. Plus we’re usually pulling in help from the pest control guys for repairs. With every job, there’s typically going to be 3-4 people minimum from multiple departments involved. So teamwork is incredibly important to keep things running smoothly.
Outside of the day-to-day work itself, we’re really close as a team and on a personal level. We have a text message chain, and we talk before, during, and after work, even on weekends. Our leadership also does a great job of setting up team events — we have quarterly events where we’re doing things like food drives, pool parties, or just going bowling as a team, so pretty often we’re doing things together outside of work. It’s truly a family feeling around here.
- From your perspective, what are the most essential things that define City Wide’s culture?
They treat you like you’re family. I know it’s cliche, but it’s really true here. The company treats you as an individual and invests in and provides you with the best resources to do your job well in every situation.
- What is your favorite part about the job?
Oof. That’s hard. I love to work outside. I love problem-solving. And I love to use my hands. I get to do that stuff every day at work, which is awesome. The most important thing for me personally outside of work is to help people. That’s a huge part of the job here, so being able to help others on the job is really something I value. Comments from customers like, “I can sleep better at night” after service are the kind of thing I love to hear, and I hear it pretty often.
- What is the most difficult part of the job?
Those hot summer days and getting in these dark tight and wet places, where animals can easily move — and humans can’t. Some of these animals can see in the dark, and I can’t. Navigating those spaces can be difficult and tricky at times.
- Any wild things that you’ve seen on the job?
I’ve got 2 for you. I don’t know how many times anyone has stuck their face over a hole 20, 30, or 40 feet up and had a gray squirrel jump up at you from the hole, but I’ve had that happen on a few occasions, and let me tell you, it’s wild to see, and pretty darn scary as well. Also on one other time, I went into an attic and saw a wave moving around in the insulation. I had no clue what it was, so I did some investigating and saw that there was a possum I needed to deal with. The family we were servicing was leaving for vacation, so I only had a few hours to deal with this possum. Just seeing that mysterious movement in the walls, and then realizing it was a possum was pretty wild.
- Describe City Wide in one word.