Home and
pest care merge

Business combines home
maintenance and pest control while
giving young people valuable skills

Local entrepreneur Kirk Hovious has an innovative way to blend two things close to the hearts of Hawaii homeowners: controlling pests and tackling the myriad of tasks that come along with maintaining a home.

In doing so he's also found a way to help out a local charity and provide training to young people wanting to learn some new skills.

Hovious started Encompass Professional Services a couple of months ago. The idea is to combine home maintenance with pest control.

An experienced businessman, Hovious sold his first company, Spectrum Pest Control, to international pest control company Orkin Pest Control in early 1997 for $1.7 million. He had started the company six years earlier with the help of a $10,000 loan from his grandfather.

Hovious, who has a degree in finance and accounting, says he learned how to do pest control maintenance in 1985 when he was in need of a job. At first he wasn't impressed with what he found.

"I needed a job and actually tried to quit on my second day, but the owner wouldn't let me and put me in sales instead," he said. The experience led to a couple of other pest control companies over the next two years before Hovious decided it was time to start his own business and Spectrum was born.

Less than a year after selling Spectrum, Hovious started Sector Diagnostics LLC, a manufacturing company now based in Atlanta. It makes termite monitoring stations and sells them through distributors to pest control companies -- something that hadn't been done before. They are sold under the brand name Termitrol.

It was an idea Hovious said he came up with in the middle of the night.

"The idea for Termitrol woke me up a 2 a.m. I had this idea and drew it on a napkin. No one was making a station that the pest control industry could use. Within a week I was on a plane to Seattle and had signed a contract to make the mold," he said. From there, Hovious said he was on the road for the next 3 1/2 years doing seminars for pest control companies.

It's a company he still owns today along with partner Tony Shupe, who does the design work. The company had sales of just over $2 million in 2002, and the stations are sold in a number of countries as well as the United States.

While Hovious says he hates termites, he concedes they've been good to him.

They've also allowed him to pursue an important area of interest: community service. As a member of Rotary International, members often told him how hard it was to find someone they trusted to come in and take care of basic maintenance around the home. The idea for Encompass was born.

Hovious is training employees by renovating the administration building and other dilapidated buildings at Winners' Camp Foundation, a nonprofit youth facility on Kamehame Ridge in Hawaii Kai. At the same time, he's helping fellow Rotary member Delorese Gregoire, who operates the facility. His partner in the new venture is Jim Curtis, who also has home maintenance and repair experience.

Gregoire is enthusiastic about the new business and what his training program has done for her facility.

"It's a godsend for us. We would not have the quality of work we are getting done, and he's picking up the whole tab. The quality of work is amazing," she said.

Gregoire has been observing the Encompass training program. She's impressed.

"(Kirk) is a pretty rigorous trainer. He doesn't want sloppy finishes and expects everything to be taken care of and impeccable," she said.

Gregoire thinks once homeowners get a taste of what the company can offer, they'll be impressed.

"He has the clients and the track record on the pest control side, so homeowners will get to trust the company and feel free to call for other kinds of things they need done. To have someone available to do additional repairs is going to be helpful to everyone.

"Most people don't know how to do things like repairs anymore. All the little things that can go wrong in a house can cost a lot in the long run," she said.

Upon his sale of Spectrum to Orkin Pest Control, Hovious signed a noncompete clause with Orkin that did not allow him to engage in pest control services for five years. That period expired last December. Now Hovious is training his workers in pest control so they can combine home repairs with termite monitoring and pest control services.

Hovious eventually wants to create between 20 and 30 jobs.

"There are a lot of people out there who just need an opportunity," he said.

He has a goal of eventually doing around $2 million in sales per year.

Hovious envisions a well-trained crew of enthusiastic young people that people will feel comfortable about allowing in their homes.

Noting how hard it can be to find a good handyman who is reliable, Hovious envisions creating a rapid-response team that can come and take care of the problem within 24 hours of the request.

Hovious also wants to build a dedicated work force that will stay with him.

In addition to a base salary, workers will get a percentage of any additional work they bring in.

"If a guy isn't making $70,000, then I'm not happy. We'll be calling them managers, and we want them to be able to make decisions," he said.


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