Family-run businesses often bring to mind the drama of TV shows such as Dynasty or Dallas. Both shows are examples of sibling rivalry run rampant with revenge and deceit. But two siblings right here in the Southland have been operating a multimillion-dollar family business smoothly without incident or drama for the last 25 years.
Brothers Jeff and Brian Jones have been at the helm of Admiral Pest Control since 1987 when they took over the reins from their father Earl Jones after Earl started to suffer from health issues and decided to step back a bit. Only 28 and 25 years old respectively at the time, Jeff and Brian had a long history even by then with Admiral Pest Control, since both boys started hanging out at the business all the way back in grade school.
Time to Get a Job
When they each turned 16 their parents encouraged them to get part time, after school jobs. They had the option to go work for someone else or come work for the family business. They both chose the family business, for which they received appropriate “teenage job” wages.
“My parents didn’t believe in favoritism,” says Brian, the younger by three years. “When my brother, Jeff, and I were in high school we did whatever needed to be done, including some of the crappiest jobs.”
“Filling sand bags. That’s the thing I hated most,” replies Brian with a laugh. “We used sandbags as weights to hold down tarps during fumigations. Eventually the sandbags would wear out, so we had to make new ones. Sometimes I’d fill a hundred sandbags after school.”
It was good part time work, and the boys learned a lot both about running a company and the pest control business. But once they graduated from high school it was time to decide what to do next.
“My parents never pushed Admiral Pest Control on us,” says Brian. “They reassured us both that if working for the family business was not our thing, we weren’t expected to make a career of it. They supported us in whatever we wanted to do in life.”
Part Time Becomes Full Time
However, both Jeff and Brian decided to come work for Admiral Pest Control after high school. And even then they still got the crappy jobs.
“My parents started us from the ground up,” remembers Brian. “I began working in fumigation and Jeff had a pest control route and did termite inspections. Back then I thought, ‘Wow, I’m the boss’s kid and I don’t get to start out a little higher up?’” Brian laughs at his naivety. “Turns out that was the best education my dad could’ve given us. Because now we know every aspect of this company.”
As time went on Earl & Betty taught Jeff and Brian more about the business. Betty taught Jeff accounting, payroll and how to run an office. Earl taught Brian about fumigations and termite inspections. Earl would take them to the bank to show them how to make deposits; included them when he purchased new trucks; brought them in on repairs. All this on-the-job training came in handy when Earl took a year hiatus in 1987 to take care of his health.
“My brother and I grew up quickly that year,” says Brian. “My dad wasn’t around to pick up the slack so we had to come up to speed in a hurry. But we did it. And when my dad finally came back a year later, he felt so comfortable with us running things that he never did return full time. We’ve been in charge ever since.”
The Brothers Take Admiral Pest Control Even Higher
Turns out the Jones brothers knew what they were doing. When they took over the company (which was built from the ground up by Earl & Betty Jones and founders Walter & Lora Lance) was on a steady growth pattern. However Jeff and Brian continued that trend, and by 2008 the company has tripled in sales.
So how do the brothers avoid the stereotypical pitfalls of sibling rivalry while running a successful business together?
“We have a lot of respect for each other and we don’t let problems fester,” assures Brian. “Our parents taught us to face issues head on, resolve them, and then move on. We have very few disagreements that we can’t resolve. And if we did, we’d call our parents and they’d straighten us both out,” laughs Brian.
Jeff and Brian are the third generation in the family to run Admiral Pest Control, but it doesn’t look like it will stop there. Three of Jeff’s grown children, two daughters and a son, are full-time employees of Admiral Pest Control, and appear to be on the same track that Jeff and Brian were at their ages.
Will Admiral Pest Control eventually be a 100-year-old family-run business? Chances look pretty good. The company has been in existence and consecutively family-run for the last 65 years, and has only 35 years left to go. And if they do make that milestone, that would be a legacy that outshines family dramas like Dynasty or Dallas any day.