I received an emailed photo of a termite soldier from a Sylvania (Sydney) homeowner. He sought identification.
It was a species I hadn’t seen since I did a drawing of it for the first textbook used in teaching new pest technicians back in 1961. In fact, we didn’t use the drawing in the book because the species wasn’t that significant
Even though it was Saturday, I thought I’d save the homeowner a weekend of anxiety and phoned him; told him it was a dampwood termite that had no interest at all in eating the solid, seasoned timbers in his house. Nothing to worry about.
He was relieved, and appreciative of a weekend call. He subtly swung the conversation around to my TermiteTrap business model by telling me he teaches an MBA course at a big University in Sydney. He was interested in successful business models.
I volunteered that production was outsourced, I had a warehouse with a small team of people to take phone calls, process orders and forklift bins of product onto the AusPost truck a couple of times a week — a simple business model.
My job was innovation. I had come up with the innovations of designing a monitor (TermiteTrap) that sat above the ground where termite scouts went looking. And then I decided to use a variation of a kitchen (or baby) wipes pack to contain the bait so that it could be stuck directly onto timbers being eaten by termites (or Traps) that were under attack and the re-sealable label made it easy to check progress. These, and other innovations, had come about after decades of me being involved with termites and knowing the tyrannical power of the unchanging termite instincts that was still driving termite scouts, workers, soldiers and royals to do what they’d always done. Humans, being smarter than termites, should be able to work out ways to use these instincts against them.
He asked me how our website performed. “What bothers me,” I said, “is how we get thousands of hits but only hundreds of sales. I’m guessing anyone who goes on-line to find out about termites is seriously interested in finding a solution to a termite incident they are currently facing. Surely no one Googles ‘termites’ just to fill in time?”
He stopped me dead when he quietly asked: “And why do you think this might be?”
I mumbled something defensive such as “Maybe they were looking for a pest service to come to their home, but, having seen us as a DIY option thought they’d check us out… then maybe went back to finding a local service company… or maybe… didn’t think they should risk their home to save a few thousand dollars…” I lamely fizzled out.
“Let me say what crossed my mind when I found your website” he said. “I wondered if you were a crackpot or a genius. When something seems too good to be true… the old saying is… that it probably is”.
So here we are. Your call…
I’ve been a technician with cobwebs in my hair then, after a uni course I became an entomologist. For over twenty years I was the Secretary of the national pest control association and my job was to improve the relationship between the industry and the community by improving the skills and knowledge of the technicians and their bosses. (You should have seen how rough they were when I started!)
I’d been out of the industry a couple of years, moved to Queensland, then one day a friend asked me how he, a homeowner, could do termite control himself. I jumped ship. I swapped to the homeowners’ side.
In a heartbeat (well about three days) I had the bright idea to simplify the process of checking the monitor. Up until then, professionals had control. Only they could do the checking. I patented the idea which is why the pest professionals haven’t caught up.
So with Traps and Bait and a How-to-Guide, homeowners are way ahead of the game.
You may not know me but I know your termites and how you can solve or avoid the problems.