The annual Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association Awards (AEPMA) is a celebration of the hardworking people in our industry, where a well-deserved pest control award is handed out in various categories. We spoke to Rhiannon Brown who, along with her husband Mark, owns Envirapest in WA. They won National Pest Manager of The Year 2022 for a Pest Management Firm with Fewer Than 10 People. Here’s what she had to say on being a pest control award winner.
Please tell us what winning this pest control award meant for you and your team?
Winning this pest control award means a lot to Mark, myself and our team. It confirms we’re heading in the right business direction. My husband Mark has been in the industry for over twenty years and we are passionate about improving the industry’s reputation. Winning a pest control award like this gives us the platform we need to help encourage new people and people from different backgrounds into our industry. It certainly makes you feel like all the late nights, stressful days and time away from your kids is worthwhile as we’re really building something special.
What made you decide on pest control as a career path?
I married into it 😊 I was working in the mining industry when I met Mark. He had a really solid business as a sole trader and was ready to make the step into taking on an employee, but the admin side of things was very time consuming for him. When I got pregnant with our eldest son we decided we would take the leap and I would resign from my job and work for Envirapest full time. I was really nervous about the decision but Mark trusted me and I trusted his faith in me. It was a real leap of faith for both of us but we backed ourselves and the rest is history. It was the best business decision we ever made.
What is it like being a female pest controller in a male dominated industry?
I’ve always worked in male-dominated industries throughout my working life. But I’ve found that the pest control industry is very accommodating to women. I’ve personally never felt like I was made to feel different because I’m female. I’m a strong believer in treating everyone the same – male or female. If you give respect to people around you, you get it back. One thing I’ve learnt is to never act like you know more than you do. Be honest – ask for help or advice and you will be surprised how many people are there to support and help you.
What inspires you on the job?
My husband Mark. He’s a wealth of knowledge and his ability to communicate with our staff and clients inspires me. Pest control is really about problem solving. Sometimes half of the job is communicating with the clients about their issues – sometimes when they’re in a stressful situation – like a termite infestation. Seeing how he handles these situations and the relief and how comfortable those clients feel with him definitely inspires me to want our business and staff to set the standard in this industry.
What do you see as your biggest career achievement to date?
I think my biggest career achievement is being able to finally find a place where we have a work/life balance while still achieving success. We have four young children (including 2.5 year old twins) and I struggled for a long time in working out how to balance this. I was always worried about letting people down if I took time away from the business. Stuff like missing phone calls or email. In the last year, I finally feel I’ve realised it’s okay to take a breath, a break, and spend time with my family. I find that when we do this, and trust our staff to handle things, our business actually runs more successfully.
As a pest control award winner, what’s your advice to women wanting to enter the industry?
Absolutely 100% do it. This industry is so unique and will always be needed. There are so many different aspects of the pest control industry and women are an important part. Whether it is a technician, administration or the corporate side of things – jump in. The industry is changing for the better and it’s an exciting time to become involved.
See our interview with 2020 Professional Women in Australian Pest Management Excellence Award winner Michelle Downs if you want more advice from a female pest controller.
You mentioned you’ve always been insured by Rapid Solutions. Why?
Rapid have been behind Envirapest from the start. From the older days when we would order our carbon copy pads right through to now when we can train our technicians online. The team have always got our back and to know that you have someone in your corner for support is what keeps us with Rapid. We feel like Rapid are a progressive company and always moving towards the future – like us.
What’s your experience with Rapid’s training courses and why have they been beneficial?
We are extremely impressed. In WA it has always been challenging to find training that suits your business– particularly for our technicians. Now that Rapid can offer Certificate 3 training in WA, it’s an absolute game changer for our business. We’re not held back by course dates or location. It’s really given us the freedom to confidently take on new trainees. We have two completing the course at the moment. The actual training system is extremely easy to use. It allows me to monitor how my staff are doing so that we can guide and support them through the training package.
Read more about pest control traineeships by Rapid – here.
Anything else you’d like to tell us, knowing other pest controllers will read this?
One of the biggest things that I feel changing across our industry is the mentality of ‘us against them’. The truth is all of the other pest controllers, businesses, suppliers and industry bodies are an extremely supportive group. Reach out if you need support as this industry is full of legends 😊