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With the holidays upon us and 2021 right around the corner, it is difficult not to reflect on 2020 and what it has meant for the Universal Pest Control family. As it did for everyone, 2020 began like any other year–but as Covid-19 spread, it forced the first of many changes to our day-to-day operations.

To protect our customers and staff, the first change we made was to distance ourselves. Team members kept a wide berth in the office and while performing services at our customers’ homes. This meant we performed exterior services and went indoors only when necessary. Most customers understood our precautions while others did not. This dissonance created a great deal of stress for our staff. Regardless, I thought it was the responsible thing to do.

The second hurdle created by Covid-19 was what to do with our 40-year veteran technician, Mike. At 79 years of age and a prime candidate for infection, we asked him to stay home until we could manage a “safe” way to bring him back. This meant his accounts would need to be serviced by the other technicians.

Boy did we learn just how much work one seasoned technician can do! Chris and TJ shouldered most of the responsibility, and Jacob filled in when he wasn’t treating lawns. I picked up the overflow.

The strain felt in the field was matched by the effort put forth by Larie and Becky, who made sure all of Mike’s accounts fit into already busy schedules. My sincerest thanks to both of them, and all the customers who changed long-standing preset times to accommodate us. We appreciate your flexibility more than you could know.

As the season ground on, we learned of health issues that would sadly prevent Mike’s return. He is doing well in retirement although, like his customers, we miss him every day–especially Larie, who shared lunch in the office with Mike on most days. He served many gourmet lunches when Lucky’s opened!

This summer, Tim Smith joined our UPC family to help build our lawn program and fill in servicing pest control and termite accounts. Although he’s part-time, Tim has a great impact on the quality of our services, and we’re happy to have him on our team.

As we have grown, I spend less time in the field and Natalie spends less time in the office, though that certainly doesn’t mean less work for either of us. Natalie deftly runs all the behind the scenes finances and book work from our home office. 

As we enter 2021, customers are going to see a new face in the field. Please help us welcome Craig Stebbins to our family as a lawn technician. He will begin in January, and I am sure you’ll appreciate all he brings.

2020 brought unique challenges that I am glad to put in the rearview mirror. With shared optimism for the new Coronavirus vaccine, 2021 is looking much better. Let’s hope it is!

Happy Holidays to all who read this, and best wishes from our family to yours for a safe and happy new year!  


Todd Stebleton is the owner and operator of Universal Pest Control, a family-owned business for over 25 years in Ormond Beach, Florida. He and his wife Natalie are proud to have built a company focused on conducting business with honesty and integrity: keeping customers first, protecting the environment, and providing trustworthy, personal service.

Universal: Honest, Environmentally Friendly Pest Control