Canton Termite: A Look Back In Time
By: Robin McWhirter
Where did we come from? Where are we going? These are questions business owners are frequently asking themselves. And they are important questions to be sure. After all, the proper perspective of remembering where you came from helps to ensure you stay true to your goals and beliefs. And common sense tells us if you don’t know where you’re going, it’s going to be hard to get there! So, let’s take a trip back in time to where it all began.
As a high school student with a summer between the beginning of college and the ending of high school (1990), I began looking for a job to fill my time and my empty pockets. My mom, who knows everyone in Cherokee County, quickly found a connection and had me an interview at a local pest control company that needed a secretary. The company in question? Canton Termite and Pest Control! At the time, it was owned by a dear man named Winston Stringer who quickly became one of my favorite people. I answered the phone and checked the Rolodex as part of my job responsibility. Soon, another position opened up, and I suggested my boyfriend (who was going to college studying fire science school at the time). Guess who that young man just so happened to be? You guessed it. Tim McWhirter. What a funny circumstance that it was actually me, Robin, who started our family down the road to the bug prevention world.
It wasn’t a quick, clear-cut road that led Tim from employee to owner of Canton Termite. There were many detours along the way. In fact, it was only supposed to be a temporary job…life can be ironic that way.
Tim still enjoyed firefighting as a volunteer during these years, but as our dating life became a married life, we decided this pest control thing might be a good career path. As Tim would say, no one starts life dreaming of being a bug guy, but it’s not such a bad gig after all. He would end up gaining experience as a technician at various companies before becoming management and learning the ins and outs of the business side of things.
Several years into our marriage, we had an epiphany: why not open our own business? We were young and not afraid to work hard. It was probably one of the most frightening but freeing days of our lives when he walked out of someone else’s business for the last time. Owning your own business is not for the faint of heart! And so Systematic Services was born, along with our second son. Those were busy days. Those were lean days. We will be forever grateful for the support of friends and family during that time. From Grandma Ellen who probably bought every diaper our young son wore during those years to Mt. Zion Baptist Church members who bought services they probably weren’t even sure they wanted; we were supported by our community from the very beginning. Perhaps this is why we feel so passionate about giving back to our community now. We are more than a group of people living in the same town, we are a family.
We happily stayed with just Tim as the sole employee for many years because we decided our primary business was raising kids. We just didn’t want to lose those years with our precious children. But time keeps marching on and kids grow up. The time came that we began to think about growing our company. This was just about as scary as going out on our own in the first place. We started with the name, the branding. I remember people constantly asking what the name of our business meant and what we did. After all, Systematic Services really isn’t a very revealing name and honestly not good marketing. There was so much we didn’t know back then. One day, Tim was talking to someone who mentioned he should try to get a name more clearly defining who we were. Through some research, we found that our old alma-mater, Canton Termite, was available as a name…so voila! Easy decision and happy memories all wrapped up in one decision.
We officially changed our name to Canton Termite & Pest Control Inc.
Our business has grown from a one-man show to a small company of 11 employees. Our first employee, William Botts, was and still is, much more than an employee. He is a friend. He and his family were church friends from years past who had served as missionaries and were back in Canton to settle down and raise their family. What a blessing Will is to Canton Termite! He manages so efficiently and competently.
Every time we have needed to hire a new employee, it has truly been God who has supplied the need. I am not exaggerating when I say that every person in our company is amazing and completely essential to our success. Brent and Jacob run a top-notch termite crew. You will never see harder working guys! Jonathan, Dwayne, and Nic are tremendously knowledgeable, and might I say…excited about the science of bugs?? These guys know so much about the insect world and are fascinating to talk with when they visit your home. We hear over and over what a pleasure it is to have them service a home. Our salesman is one of the best in the business. Ed is friendly and outgoing, willing to answer all the questions and concerns with experience and concern. Jen and Linda are the lovely ladies of the office and likely the first contact with our company. I cannot imagine better people in all the world to call my coworkers.
So there you are the history of Canton Termite and Pest Control. We are who we are thanks to the blessings of God, the support of our community, and the awesomeness of our staff. Tim and I would like to say thank you to all and are extremely excited about the road ahead!