Business Spotlight: John Parks’ career change really bugs him

John Parks is the owner of Parks Pest Control in State College.
John Parks is the owner of Parks Pest Control in State College. CDT photo

It’s not anyone’s dream to be laid off. But, if you play the cards you were dealt just right, it can be a dream come true.

Years ago, John Parks was laid off from a job in which he was a regional manager that covered an area from Pennsylvania to Vermont. Pressed to find another job, he became a sales rep for a national pest control company.

His new job required that he travel Monday through Friday, which caused him to miss time with his family, so six years ago decided to make another change — he launched Parks Pest Control based in State College.

“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” Parks said. “I never would have started my own business if I hadn’t gotten laid off by another company.”

He also wouldn’t be talking about an industry he loves.

Q: Why did you stick with the pest control industry when you decided to no longer be a traveling sales rep?

A: For me it’s about helping people. That’s what it’s about. People have a pest problem or they don’t want to have a pest problem and we take care of it for them.

Q: I imagine you get a lot of calls that require you to respond in a short period of time, maybe that day. Is it kind of exciting not knowing what you’ll face next?

A: That’s the beauty of the business. You never know what the day is going to bring.

Q: What are some of the most common pests in Centre County?

A: Bed bugs are pretty common right now, and they have been for years. Ants, spiders and mice, too.

Bed bugs are so prevalent, because we’re such a transient society that people travel all over the place. Then, they go to hotels and bring them back to their homes. And it can be the other way, too. it’s really a combination of both. Especially State College with all of its hotels, apartments and homes.

Q: What kind of threats do our homes face this spring with respect to insects and rodents?

A: Termites are a big issue in the spring, and carpenter ants are similarly a big issue in the spring. Those are the big two this time of year. They’re there all year round, but termites, especially during the spring, have a swarming time when you actually know they’re there. You see hundreds and hundreds of black bugs all at one time that look like carpenter ants. Their colony will get to a certain size, and then they shove these swarmers out. The swarmers then start a new colony. The king and queen go underground never to come up again to start the colony. Eventually (the bugs will) work their way into your home or business.

Q: Can weather cause infestations of some pests?

A: Especially wet weather can cause an infestation, because what the insects and rodents try to do are get out of the wet weather, much like we do. Winter time, it’s more of a rodent issue, because they want to get in where it’s warm. Mice are the biggest rodent problem in this area, because of their population.

Q: Where are people most likely to find insects or pests in their home?

A: Rodents, nine times out of 10, you’ll find them in your kitchen. The places to look for them are underneath your stove and behind your refrigerator, because (those spots are) warm and out of the way. Or they can be found in your kitchen drawers, because it’s close to their food source. Insects just go wherever they can go.

Q: How do we pest-proof our homes?

A: There are steps you can take. You can do an exclusion and that type of thing, but insects especially will find your way into your house. There’s no 100 percent way to insect-proof your house. They will find a way in if they want to get in.

That’s where we in the pest control industry come in as pest control providers. We have to get them before they get inside your house. I’m a big believer in taking care of the outside of a house or business, because nine times out of 10, if I take great care of the outside you’re not going to have problems on the inside.

We do exterior sprays, and we’re big on three-times-a-year sprays for residential customers. Our commercial customers do it mostly on a monthly basis for the interior in the winter and exterior the rest of the year.

Q: Have you ever been taken aback by a pest infestation?

A: I would say the ones I’m most taken aback by are really bad bed bug infestations and really bad cockroach infestations. It’s just hard for me to understand how someone could let it go as long as it does for the infestation to be so serious.

Q: What’s the worst scene you’ve dealt with?

A: One of the worst ones I’ve ever had was a home we got called to do an inspection for bed bugs. The bed bugs were so severe in that home they were crawling up the walls. They were everywhere. They also had a cockroach infestation. That was so severe that whenever you looked at the kitchen counter, it looked like it was actually moving it was so bad. Then you open up the cupboards, and there were hundreds and hundreds of cockroaches. That’s the worst one I’ve ever dealt with.