Walter Lance is not necessarily a name you may have heard of, but he’s pretty important as far as Admiral Pest Control is concerned. In fact, he’s the reason Admiral Pest Control exists today. That’s because Walter Lance founded Admiral Pest Control 65 years ago. Walter hailed from a large family in Texas. After he married his love bride, Lora, they decided to strike out on their own. The couple headed to Los Angeles for a change of scenery—and to enjoy that gorgeous Southern California weather.
Walter became a fireman in L.A. but quickly determined that owning his own business was his ticket to financial security. He thought providing a consumable, yet sustainable, product or service for his community would guarantee business longevity. After doing a little research he decided pest control was the way to go.
He couldn’t have been more spot-on.
Admiral Pest Control Helps Build the American Dream
Walter started Admiral Pest Control out of his home on Mandale in Bellflower, CA, in 1947. Walter’s wife answered the phone and took the orders, while Walter made the house calls. But by 1950 business was booming so the company had to expand. Walter bought a house on Artesia Street and moved his operation there, where Admiral Pest Control still stands today…but not in exactly the same building.
In the mid 20th Century the post WWII economy boomed, which meant people were investing in the American Dream by buying homes. These homes needed to be pest-free, so Admiral Pest Control continued to thrive to the point at which Walter had to expand a second time. In 1957 Walter bought the property on Ramona Street, which was directly behind his Artesia house (the backyards adjoined). He then moved the Artesia house to Ramona Street, and built a new office on the Artesia lot. That office building on 9434 Artesia is the same building out of which Admiral Pest Control operates today.
The relocated house on Ramona was a rental until 10 years ago, when Admiral Pest Control took it over. The folks at Admiral now refer to that house as their “corporate office.” Today three structures sit on the half-acre Ramona property; the corporate office and two homes, which are family rentals.
The Admiral Pest Control Family Grows
Walter and Lora had two kids, one of which was a daughter named Betty. In 1958 Betty married Earl Jones, and Earl joined Walter in the family business. Earl and Betty had two sons, and today those sons, Jeff and Brian, are the third generation to run Admiral Pest Control.
"I started coming to the office with my dad when I was about five years old,” says Jeff Jones, Admiral’s vice president. “Grandma was there, too, and she always made a full-blown hot lunch for our family. I was so lucky, by hanging out at the office I got to see my grandparents everyday.”
In 1969 Admiral Pest Control incorporated and at that time Walter gave half the company to his son-in-law, Earl. This freed up Walter to start a second business, Lance Canvas Products, which made tarps used for fumigators, boat covers, and awnings. Walter operated his side business on the Admiral Pest Control property in the warehouse, so he was still around, even though Earl was running the company by now.
In 1977 Jeff graduated from high school and joined the family business full-time. His brother, Brian, came onboard in 1980. “We started out at the bottom,” he says. “My brother and I have done every job possible in that company. So we know how Admiral Pest Control works from the ground up.”
By 1987 Walter was completely retired and Jeff and Brian’s dad, Earl, decided to step down after recuperating from a mild heart attack. Jeff and Brian have been running the company together ever since.
The three generations remained close until August of 2000, when Jeff’s grandmother, Lora, passed away. Walter followed shortly after that in November of 2001.
In a world where corporations rule, Admiral Pest Control defies the odds by remaining successfully family-owned and operated for 65 years. What’s their secret?
“My dad always told me to treat employees and the people I work with the way I’d want them to treat me,” says Jeff. “It’s a rule that my brother and I live by to this day.”
Obviously, that’s a family tradition that has served Admiral Pest Control well.
Walter Lance would be proud.