As I’ve grown Environmental Pest Management from its early days in 2003, I’ve learned a lot about leadership. One of those learnings is that I am able to wear a lot of hats in my business. Another is that I shouldn’t.
One of my most valuable lessons in leadership is that every successful business will get to a point where its founder – the person who envisioned and invested and worked tirelessly to get it to where it is today – must allow others to head up its most important functions in order for it to get where it needs to go tomorrow.
We all have superpowers, and my role as a leader – my superpower – is to see those exceptional qualities in others, to offer those individuals opportunities to grow into their roles, and to support them in ways that will ensure their success.
Over the years, I’ve put people in place, some of which are family members, who are responsible for ensuring EPM’s growth. I’m confident in their work and decisions, which frees me up to strategize the longer-term vision for EPM’s future.
Here are the leadership roles I’ve established at EPM, those whom I’ve put in charge, and how I invest in their success.
The Field Leader
We have a large and growing team of pest management professionals who represent EPM every day in the field, delivering excellent results for our property management and residential clients. These folks are the face of EPM, and we must ensure that their training and decision-making allows them to deliver the exceptional experiences our clients have come to expect. Michael McKibben, our Assistant General Manager, works alongside my son, Brandon Carpenter, to ensure every pest management professional is at the top of their game. Brandon has been involved with EPM since childhood and is a certified pest management professional. As EPM’s General Manager. Brandon’s superpower is people management and coaching. He won’t ask a team member to do something he can’t or won’t do himself and is intimately familiar with the ins and outs of a certified pest management professional’s daily work. To ensure his success, Brandon participates in a peer group at the Conway Center for Family Business. This group has been invaluable to Brandon’s development. In addition to helping him hone his leadership skills, the program helps Brandon navigate some of the unique challenges inherent in a family-owned and operated business.
The Client Service Leader
Over the past six years, Sarah Baughman has successfully overseen many of our most important accounts and was recently promoted to Director of Client Experience. In this role Sarah is responsible for ensuring exceptional customer experiences across our portfolio of clients. Her superpowers are the ability to examine any given client’s call in a holistic way and understanding each issue from the client’s point of view. She and her team understand that on the other end of the line is a person in distress. Sarah never tells a client, or a prospective client, what we can’t do, but instead focuses on what we can do, creatively solving their pest problems with empathy and understanding.
The Revenue Leader
Quite simply, a business doesn’t grow without business development — an intentional, concerted effort to acquire new clients and grow topline revenue. My son Blake Carpenter has literally grown up with EPM and he’s spent a great deal of time in the pest control industry. Blake’s superpower is connecting with our clients; he’s a great rapport-builder. Combined with his knowledge of pest management, his people skills make him the ideal person to lead our business development initiatives. And to make sure that he’s constantly developing his lead generation and closing skills we’ve engaged a sales coach who ensures that Blake is consistently meeting the growth goals for his department.
The Finance Leader
As our Finance Manager, Julie Ruzicka’s superpower is ensuring EPM has the cash available to fund our continued growth. She’s detail-oriented and leaves no stone unturned. She works alongside Pat Langour, fractional CFO. Pat’s strategic financial expertise – especially in industries like ours – is his superpower. His guidance has been critical to our success and growth, and he has also become an important member of our leadership team.
The Culture Leader
Years ago, when Karen Carpenter came on board, she and Kyle Phillips overhauled how we thought about and responded to client service calls, vastly improving our customer service practices. One of Karen’s many superpowers is problem-solving. She works with our clients and our employees to find win-win solutions to some of the most challenging business problems. She has built and continues to nurture EPM’s unique company culture which is based on compassion and creative problem-solving.
I’ll admit, EPM is my baby. There isn’t a part of my life that hasn’t been touched by my efforts to build this business. And when it means that much to you, it can be difficult to let go of some of its most critical functions. But I’ve learned that it’s vital for EPM’s continued success, as well as for my own sanity, to be intentional about which roles to delegate, and to whom and when to do it. Putting the right people in those roles has given me the confidence needed to step aside from our day-to-day operations so that I can spend my time and attention focusing on EPM’s future. And that has been downright liberating.