With humidity in the air and high summer closing in, business is good for David Maginness, owner of the Mosquito Joe franchise for Johnson County.
This is the second season for the local franchise of Mosquito Joe, a company that sprays around yards to protect against biting bugs like fleas, ticks, chiggers and of course, mosquitoes. The company, based in Virginia Beach, Va., has been growing since its inception in 2010. It currently has 105 franchisees in 27 states. Much recent growth can be attributed to interest in preventing the Zika virus, according to Kevin Wilson, the chief executive.
There’s been a lot of local interest as well, Maginness said. Mosquito Joe started last year with one van and two or three employees, but has been growing fast and now has 5 vans and 10 employees, he said.
Q. What area do you cover?
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Although Maginness’ franchise is billed as Mosquito Joe of East Johnson County, he has customers all over Johnson County, as far west as Lenexa, Olathe and Shawnee. He also does some business in the Brookside and Loose Park areas and in Kansas City, Kan.
Q. How does your business work?
People call for employees to do the spraying. There are no long-term contracts, but a reapplication of the spray is usually recommended every two or three weeks, he said. However the customer decides when the spraying starts and stops. The business is seasonal, from April through late October, he said.
Q. How do you address customer concerns about the environment?
Mosquito Joe offers both synthetic and natural sprays based on pyrethrins, a chemical found in chrysanthemums. The natural spray doesn’t last quite as long, though, so it may have to be reapplied more often, he said. The company also offers a garlic spray around ponds, vegetable gardens and flowering plants that will not harm pollinators or aquatic life, according to the website. The various sprays take care of about 30 different insects and, when sprayed around house, can discourage ants and crawling bugs as well, he said.
Q. How have the Zika and West Nile viruses affected your business?
So far Zika has not reached the continental U.S., although some travelers have been infected while in other countries, he said. Even so, a lot of people have asked, especially women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, he said.
Spraying takes care of the mosquitoes, though, whether they carry the viruses or not, he said.
“We’re not building our business off of fear that someone is getting a disease. We’re building it off of if someone is getting bitten, killing those mosquitoes,” he said.
Q. What happens to business in the off-season?
The crush of calls in warm weather means long days and nights during the season. Things pretty much shut down in the cold months, he said. Maginness explained that time is used for training, maintenance of equipment, reaching out to customers and planning for the next season.
Q. Is it difficult to keep employees, then?
Some employees do move on at the end of the season, he said, but others like the earning opportunity during the hot months and so find a temporary job until they can return. And some employees like being on their own outdoors than in an office, he added.
Q. What are your biggest challenges?
“Educating the public that this service exists and that it works,” he said. Although outdoor pest services for biting bugs are well established in the East and South, they are relatively new in this area, he said.
And some may be skeptical that mosquito control works, based on past experience, he added. “For a lot of people, they’ve been to Home Depot and taken a look at the mosquito control aisle and what they see is a candle you’re supposed to light. A lot of those mosquito control things don’t work,” he said.
In a nutshell
Company: Mosquito Joe of East Johnson County
Address: 5010 Indian Creek Parkway, Apt. 303, Overland Park