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Companies to Watch: Graduate Pest Solutions

This Entrepreneur Is Getting the Bugs Out
Companies to Watch: Graduate Pest Solutions

Glenn Olesuk says his degree in Entomology gives him a competitive edge — and it also gave his company a name.

Glenn Olesuk says he won’t easily forget his first professional assignment.

That was as the technical director for a local pest-control company in Chicago. There were many elements to that job description, but at the top of the list was battling something the locals and the press had dubbed the “super rat.” This was a pest said to have amassed a resistance to all or most of the rodenticides in use at that time (1979).

“There was evidence that some resistance had been built up,” said Olesuk, now the owner and entomologist with his own company, Hampden-based Graduate Pest Solutions, adding quickly that the super rat was, in his opinion, more myth than reality.

But he did see plenty of rats, and he has some vivid memories from those days in the Windy City, including one that he and his wife, Brenda, often retell. Glenn, it appears, wanted to show Brenda just what he did for a living, specifically his work at some of the finer hotels to keep rats out of the view of guests.

“Every major city has layers — downtown Chicago had what’s known as Wabash Avenue, which is the layer below the main streets, where the service vehicles would come in,” he explained. “And that’s where the real battle with rats took place. We would trap and kills rats by the hundreds. One night I took my wife to show her what I do every day; I was driving with my lights off, and pulled into an alleyway behind one of the major hotels. When I turned the lights on, it was like a Hollywood movie — there was just a mass of dark gray that moved from the street and ran into these inconceivable little holes and openings in the alleyway.”

These days, Olesuk is doing battle with far-less-exotically named pests at a venture he named Graduate to call attention to something he says differentiates him from most all competition. That would be his bachelor’s degree in Entomology, the study of insects, that he earned at Syracuse.

“Sometimes I have to explain it,” he said of his company’s name and the motivation behind it. “But by the time I’m done explaining, they get it.”

Most in this huge, highly competitive industry don’t have such qualifications, he explained, adding that, from his studies in college — not to mention his 30 years in the field (and in attics and back alleys) — he can effectively answer most all questions people have about pests in their home or business.

And informed answers are what clients and potential clients want most, said Olesuk, adding that he’s been providing them since his career path took a turn at Syracuse. “I was going to get into forestry,” he explained, “But then one of my professors said, ‘take pest-control technology, and you’ll always be employed.’ He was right.”

Tracing his history in the pest-control business, Olesuk said he worked for both local and regional firms until becoming part-owner of a venture in 1998. That business partnership eventually dissolved in early 2007, he continued, adding that he launched Graduate Pest Solutions shortly thereafter, and has been building a book of business steadily since then.

Moving forward, Olesak, who has his two sons, Paul and Scott, working with him in part-time capacities, said his primary goal — and challenge — is to get his company’s name and his résumé in front of people. If he does so, he believes he can take market share from a host of local, regional, and national competitors.

And once he gets a customer, Olesuk says he keeps it. “I’ve always had 100% retention,” he explained. “I’ve never lost a client to service.”

Olesuk says the majority of his clients are commercial, and while he’s working to continually build that portfolio, he also wants to greatly increase his residential customer base as well.

In both realms, the key is exposure, he said, adding that he’s employing a number of marketing vehicles — from some direct mail to his service truck, outfitted with a new logo — to introduce people and businesses to his venture.

Olesuk hasn’t encountered any super rats in his current service territory (Hartford north through the Pioneer Valley), but he is being kept busy with Asian lady beetles, mice, spiders, ants, and bees, each with their own season, except spiders, which are generally a year-round concern.

He can talk at length about any and all of them, because he has not only experience, but that diploma that gives him a degree of separation — both figuratively and literally.

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