There are all sorts of dangers a professional pest controller needs to be aware of to keep themselves and their clients safe.
Sharp teeth, disease-ridden nests and hazardous chemicals all need to be handled by someone who’s received the proper training – and the risks don’t end there…
Even after finishing a job, Lewis Clarke, owner of LRC Environmental Ltd, has to make sure he chooses a waste management provider that understands the value of a clean and tidy yard. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons he works with SunSkips.
“If I get a nail stuck in my tyre, that’s £800 right there,” explained Lewis, who had recently come from SunSkips’ Stowmarket site after dropping off some insulation removed from a client’s attic.
“SunSkips’ tipping bay is very clean, so it’s not likely to happen there. They’ve even got a mist machine on top of the containers to prevent dust from building up!
“Unfortunately, there’s been glass all over the ground at other yards I’ve been to…”
Lewis has quickly made a name for himself as a trustworthy pest controller after leaving a secure role at Rentokil (which he started at just 17) to go out on his own.
The young entrepreneur is soon to be celebrating his first year in business after selling practically all his possessions to fund the venture – and he’s already got quite the CV!
At age 23, Lewis was runner-up in the Young Technician of the Year Awards. Then, in just five months of going solo with LRC, he formed a limited company and two months after that, became a member of the British Pest Control Association.
“I shouldn’t have been allowed to be a member because your business is supposed to be going for a full year first,” admitted Lewis. “But I was able to prove to them that I meet the standards.”
LRC Environmental handles infestations of insects, birds, rats and any other type of pest that needs to be handled professionally. The company inspects anything from smaller residential properties to large agricultural buildings, conducting environmental risk assessments to make sure everything is safe.
“Our objective is really to protect public health and safety while managing the risk of disease,” Lewis explained.
The pest controller says a lot of people get the wrong idea about his industry. The common misconception is that the job is mostly about killing rodents and poisoning insects, but in fact, it’s quite the opposite.
“Laying traps and poisoning really is a last resort,” insists animal lover Lewis – who is the proud owner of eight dogs (he wears his fondness for his canine companions on his personalised number plate: K900 LRC).
“I want to move away from the image that we’re killers. Most of what we do is environmental (hence the name), making sure that key areas both inside and outside properties are properly protected against infestation.
“I’m an affiliated member of CRRU (Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use), which means we’re working to a risk hierarchy.
“Our first step is to see if we can take away food sources or manage the environment to eliminate the risk. If I have no choice but to kill a rat, there’s a lot involved in the way we undertake things. For example, we have to consider if poison would pose a risk to its natural predators, like cats or owls.”
The pandemic gave rise to a surge in pest problems in the UK, with many households and businesses quickly having to shut up shop without the time to take proper precautions.
“When lockdown struck, many areas were like ghost towns: a perfect breeding ground for rats and insects. With so much going on, people hadn’t thought to clear out staff canteens of food or empty every bin – and they weren’t allowed back in to do it.
“Not to mention irregular waste collections attracting pests at places where people were locked down.”
Some situations can get really out of hand, like a recent client who didn’t realise that a flock of pigeons had made a nest in their attic, leaving droppings everywhere. Fortunately, Lewis knew how to handle it.
“There are all sorts of pathogens and nasty things that come with pigeon droppings. I’m very lucky to have nine years of experience behind me so I can handle big jobs like that safely.”
When it comes to protecting yourself from pests, prevention is far better than cure. Here’s Lewis’ expert advice on how to protect your home or workplace from an infestation.
Lewis uses SunSkips to get rid of waste from clearouts. Rodents themselves are incinerated while excess rodenticide is stored in a waste compound and goes back to the supplier if unused.
On top of the nice, clean yard, Lewis also rates SunSkips as one of the more convenient waste management companies in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
“My depot is only four miles away from the Stowmarket site, but my jobs are mainly Cambourne/Cambridge way, so if I’ve got excess waste to get rid of while I’m at a client site, it’s really handy to have another option close by.”
When picking a waste management provider, Lewis looks for efficiency, practicality and one or two smiling faces ready to greet him.
“There’s always friendly staff there that make me feel welcome. That was the case from the very first time I pulled into the yard.
“Last time I was there, we had a laugh and tried to guess the weight of the insulation I was dropping off before it was weighed.”
While Lewis is busy solving pest problems, his soon-to-be wife Nic is busy handling the day-to-day admin.
“We’re a husband and wife team. She mostly does the backend, but she’s also trained in rodenticide and is undergoing more training in pest control.”
And the blossoming family business is about to get a little bit bigger…
“We’re expecting!” beams Lewis. “I’ve already got their first little protective suit ready to go!”
Lewis clearly loves what he does and his customers have stuck with him throughout his journey.
“I’ve got customers that have been with me for seven years or more. Some just ring me up for a chin wag!”
Investing in himself has paid off “tenfold” for Lewis, with a thriving business and family both well on their way.
He added, “Coming out of the pandemic and all the doom and gloom that came with it in 2020 and 2021, I couldn’t be happier or more excited for the future!”
Got a pest problem? Give Lewis a call on 07568 480 928 (or email firstname.lastname@example.org) to get the advice of a professional with almost a decade of experience in pest control. And if you need a local site to offload some waste, SunSkips has locations in Stowmarket, Cambridge and soon Haverhill.