Photos by Gina Turner
Huntsville Pest Control, located at 1027 B IH 45 South, Suite 7, in Huntsville, Texas, has been locally owned by D.L. Shiver since January 26, 2018. The pest control business is nothing new to D.L., since he grew up working for his parents, Don and Diann Shiver, owners of Shivco Termite & Pest Control in Madisonville. It’s safe to say the pest control business has long been a “family affair,” since the Shivers’ have been in the business for the past 35 years.
“As a young business owner, some people might look at D.L. and think, I don’t know if this kid knows what he’s doing,” said Don, “but he has been around the business since he was 8 or 9 years old. He would ride with me occasionally and was always good with the customers. They really enjoyed talking with him. He is a people person and can talk to people of all ages. He got his apprentice license when he was only 16 and became certified to do applications soon after that. By the time D.L. was 21, he already had years of experience.
D.L. is a native of Madisonville, and after graduating from high school, he went to Texas A&M to pursue his undergraduate degree with a bachelor of Science in Agricultural Leadership and Development with an emphasis in Public Relations, and went on to his masters in Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication. He met his wife Shannon while in graduate school. In fact, they were married by the professor who taught the class where they met. She now teaches in Katy. Coincidentally, Don was also an Ag major at Sam Houston State University when he met his wife Diann, who was also studying to be a teacher. Before retiring, she taught in Madisonville for 29 years.
According to D.L., he always knew he wanted to be in the pest control business. He worked closely with Dr. Briers at Texas A&M to get approval to do his internship while working for his dad. It just made sense to apply my knowledge and experience in my graduate studies. With the help of Dr. Briers, he was able to complete his internship at his dad’s pest control business. After graduating from Texas A&M, D.L. told his dad he wanted to work in the family business. They discussed their options and looked at what would be the best way to get the ball rolling. “We’ll think on it and pray on it,” D.L. recalls telling his dad, and literally that night, “I asked God to show me what I was supposed to do if this was meant to happen.”
The very next day, out of the blue, his dad got a call from Russell Mauldin, owner of Huntsville Pest Control at the time, and good friend of the family. He said, “Hey, I’m looking at getting out of the business, and you’re the first ones that came to mind.” Then he asked, “Do you want to buy me out?”
“Russell was in our wedding,” said Diann, “and we basically started our businesses around the same time. He was over the Huntsville area, and we were in Madisonville.” “We’ve remained friends throughout the years,” added Don, “so out of respect, we just didn’t play in each other’s backyards.” Don explained that, on occasion, a customer from this area would call him, and he would refer them right back to Russell, and sometimes, Russell would call him with similar circumstances.
When Don called D.L. to tell him Russell had called and offered to sell, D.L. wasn’t sure he wanted to work in Huntsville. As an Aggie, he had been considering working in the College Station area, “but I knew this was a good opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” said D.L. Once he bought the business and obtained all the required licenses, he wanted the transition from one owner to the other to be as smooth as possible for the customers, or “friends,” as he likes to call them. D.L. started riding with Russell and was introduced to each of them, and gradually got acquainted with his new customers. He wanted to build mutual trusting relationships with his new friends. “Now, almost three years later, it has really been great getting to know everyone,” said D.L.
Huntsville Pest Control provides both residential and commercial pest control services and serves Huntsville and the surrounding areas, which include: New Waverly, Willis, Conroe, Montgomery, Riverside, Trinity, Crabbs Prairie, and Shiro. Since their opening, they’ve designed a new logo, bought new equipment, new service trucks, and acquired new office space. Besides D.L., there are currently 4 other team members working at Huntsville Pest Control: Stephen Craig, Gordon Plumlee, Bebe Webb and Marty Fraley. “Gordon is like a double agent, because he has dual licensing, which means he can work for multiple businesses with the same license,” said D.L. “This is helpful when there is a sudden increase in calls. Our guys working in Huntsville can then easily go help out at the Madisonville location when needed.”
The pest control industry is a service-oriented business. “What we do is try to control outdoor pest invaders such as: ants, roaches, mosquitos, rats/mice, or wood destroying insects such as termites. We are getting away from calling ourselves ‘exterminators,’ because that is a misconception,” D.L. stated. “We offer weekly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly, quarterly, or 6-month maintenance. It just depends on the customers’ needs. Most of our customers are on a quarterly plan. This means that we’ll call you around 90 days to remind you that your house is due for a new treatment, but, if you have problems before then, we’ll come out and take care of the problem before the 90 days are up.”
The products used by Huntsville Pest Control are limited residual products, which means by the time the 90 days are up, it has totally dissipated, so it’s time to reapply. The product adheres to the surface when applied. When using termiticide, they dig a trench and treat the soil, because termites come up through the soil. They also have to make sure the weather is cooperating, and the ground is dry and has enough air pockets to allow the termiticide to dissipate into the soil to get the desired results. D.L. stressed that their products are intended to get rid of insects, but as long as it is used correctly and mixed properly, as indicated on the label, it is environmentally friendly and safe to use around humans and pets. “If you are spraying someone’s home, this means you have received the appropriate training and are qualified to do the work, which also means we have total trust in you,” said D.L.
“It is very important to be accommodating and mindful that, when customers are letting you into their homes, they are in a sense letting you into their lives. This means there’s a great level of respect and trust we have to earn in order for them to feel safe and comfortable. We believe the customer is always right. I feel fortunate to work with a great team,” said D.L. “We trust one another, and know our customers trust us to go into their homes.” Don added, “I tell people all the time, I wouldn’t send anyone out to your house that I wouldn’t give a key to my house.”
Punctuality is just as important, according to D.L. “We pride ourselves on being on time. If we tell you we’re going to be there between 8:30 am and 9:30 am, we will be there! Most of the time we are early, but if we are going to be late for any reason, we’ll call you and let you know. We don’t leave customers wondering where we are.”
According to D.L., he goes out to about 60 houses a week, and says once he arrives at the location, he will remember details about previous visits at that particular house. For instance, if a family has an indoor dog, whether it tends to be friendly, or if grandma lives with the family and she’s on oxygen, so it’s important to be very careful about spraying around her room. Remembering these minor details and sharing them with team members is very helpful, especially if someone will be going out to a customer’s house for the first time.
Huntsville Pest Control is open Monday through Friday, and can be reached by phone at 936-291-2902, or via email: hu[email protected], or visit them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/huntsvillepestcontrol/.
Although he’s always on call, D.L. says he tries to separate his work and personal life as much as possible. Weekends are mostly spent with family and friends. He enjoys spending time with his wife Shannon at home, cooking, or going to the movies. The couple also enjoys traveling and going on cruises, although they haven’t done much of that lately due to COVID. D.L. also enjoys hanging out with his friends, Aggie football, hunting, playing video games, riding around in golf carts in the neighborhood, and taking his dogs to the dog park.