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  • By Mark Gordon
  • | 11:00 a.m. July 24, 2015
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
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Cloud Termite and Pest Control predates World War II, but in some ways the past two years have been a learning expedition.

Take the Manatee County-based company's old way of giving pest control service estimates to potential customers — over the phone. “That was a huge mistake,” says Brenton Cloud, a vice president and the fourth generation in his family to work there. “That's an easy way to let people price shop you.”

One of Brenton Cloud's first moves, when he joined the business in late 2013 after five years on Wall Street, was to institute a new estimates policy. Now it's all done face to face in customers' homes, where employees can cross sell services. Adds Cloud: “It's harder to say no in person.”

Cloud has multiple ambitious ideas for the company, beyond sales policies. He handles business development, while his dad, Gene Cloud III, is the majority owner and oversees fumigation. Gene Cloud Sr. launched the family business in 1934, with a termite extermination company in west Bradenton.

“When I came on board, I said we could do a lot more with this,” says the youngest Cloud. “My goal is to be the biggest pest control company in Florida.”

That's a steep climb. The firm had $1.1 million in sales in 2014, up 34.8% from $816,000 in 2013. Cloud projects sales will grow at least 20% in 2015, to more than $1.3 million. About 75% of sales come from fumigation services, mostly for businesses and multifamily properties, while the rest is residential pest control. Most of the company's clients are in Manatee County, and Cloud wants to expand down the entire Gulf Coast.

Yet while the firm is growing, it's a long way from biggest in Florida. The largest in the state, according to industry trade publication Pest Control Technology, is Orlando-based Massey Services, with $178.1 million in sales in 2014. Gainesville-based Florida Pest Control is the second biggest, with $57.3 million a year in sales.

Closer to home, in size, is Sarasota-based Environmental Pest Service. That company had $35.1 million in sales last year, up 162% over 2013, based mostly off a strategy that's garnered national industry attention: to grow by acquiring other pest control businesses.

Despite the proximity, Brenton Cloud considers EPS Chairman George Pickhardt, the architect of the grow-by-acquisition strategy, a potential mentor, not a competitor. Cloud, 32, reached out to Pickhardt last year to have lunch and learn about how he does it. (Pickhardt gave Cloud some advice, but EPS also gave Cloud something an else: a buyout offer. The Cloud family declined.)

Utilizing the rapid rise in sales, Cloud hopes the company is in position to make its first acquisition of another pest control business in the next year or so. A Business Observer 40 under 40 recipient last year, Cloud has taken several other steps to facilitate growth. That ranges from adding more services, such as mosquito control, to redoing the firm's website and social media strategy, with a newfound emphasis on search engine optimization.

He also led a name change, from Manatee Termite and Pest Control back to Cloud, a project that brought a new logo and branding materials. Other initiatives: Cloud recently changed the route system for pest control technicians to make it more efficient, and he plans to buy a new software program in early 2016 to manage decades of client data.

While motivated to grow, Cloud is cognizant of companies that expand too fast and strain resources. “I want to make sure we maintain our customer service as we grow,” Clouds says. “I think we can do that.”

Follow Mark Gordon on Twitter @markigordon


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