Dynamic Duo: Colin & Jodi Urey
Happily married for 33 years, Menai locals Jodi and Colin aren’t just partners in life; they’re also business partners and the founders of Drop Dead Pest Control in Sydney’s south. We find out what makes this unique duo such an effective team.
Jodi: In 2008, I was raising two small children at home and working part-time while Colin was working long hours in the motor industry. I felt like a single mum, so Colin and I decided to start our own business so we could have more time together. I remember saying to Colin, “what type of business are you thinking of?” and he said “pest control.” My first reaction was, “Wow, why are you interested in that?”
Colin resigned from his job, completed his Pest Control license and we came up with the name Drop Dead Pest Control. We bought a van, installed signage, decked it out and went from there. We both had a strong background in customer service, sales and marketing and the business grew rapidly. I gave up my part-time job and started working full-time in the business from home, booking clients and handling all the admin, sales and marketing while looking after a home and two small children. This enabled Colin to focus on servicing the customers. It was a busy time for me with lots of juggling!
People often ask us what’s it’s like working together and being married. It’s not for every couple; a lot of relationships fail when working together. But I think we’ve always been a strong unit and our skills complement each other. Colin is very much a ‘big picture’ person. He has the vision and excellent skills. He even has a cult following of clients, which helps! I’m the details person, the one who makes it all happen, but we work together on achieving the vision.
We’re very grateful that our business has grown, and my role has certainly changed over the years. In 2010, I decided to get my Pest License. I had learned a lot from Colin, but felt like I needed the qualification for credibility when discussing pest issues with clients. Now I’m kind of jack of all trades, but basically I oversee the smooth running of the office, including sales, marketing, community relations and staff training. We are very involved in our local community, sponsoring and supporting local events for businesses. Our head office in Menai is also a Pest Identification Centre and people often drop in with weird and wonderful creatures to identify. We really believe that business is simple: when you provide a great service with effective solutions, people give you their trust and growth will follow.
The biggest challenge for Colin and I is not talking about work at home because we do live and breathe the business. Even having a day off is a challenge. We try and take every second Saturday off to relax at our holiday place in Kiama NSW, but a number of our clients also have holiday houses down the south coast. When we plan to go, they often ask if we can treat their house while we are down that way, so just about every weekend off turns out to be a working weekend! Down south, the pace is more relaxed and social; we’ll do three jobs on a Saturday and have cake and coffee with clients, it’s great! We have dinner out on Saturday night, breakfast out on Sunday and spend the rest of the day just relaxing at the beach. That’s our down-time, and keeps us sane. This business is definitely our lives!
Colin: Surprisingly, my path towards pest control started whilst working in Real Estate. The pest inspector that was doing pre-purchase inspections for my clients opened my eyes to a whole new and interesting world. When selling properties, discovering termites can be a real deal breaker. I wanted to know about these creatures that were killing my deals. He taught me about termites and I was fascinated. When we started our family, I went on to work as a General Manager of a Mercedes-Benz dealership; the money was great but the hours were long and I wasn’t able to spend much time with my family, so I decided to start my own business. I knew straight away it had to be in pest control but it was probably a bit of a shock for Jodi!
We started our business in 2008 as a single operator, working from our home office. As business increased, Jodi got her pest license and we started employing other technicians. We grew through licensing our business to the technicians that worked with us and from there our brand grew. That’s how we got to where we are now, with a fleet of trucks and more than 20 people involved.
Jodi and I are partners in everything. Having a partner that has the same business mindset makes running your own business easier. If you have different life paths, I don’t believe success comes as easily.
Jodi’s strength is that she is really great with customers; she has the knowledge and is able to connect with people. She is also a perfectionist and very detailed. I’m the ‘big picture’ person where she is the implementer. We have taken our business knowledge and experience from working in large successful corporate companies over the years and implemented those processes into our own business.
It’s not just Jodi and I making decisions on our own now; we have our own in-house Business Advisor, Accountant and Operations Manager who assist us in making business decisions moving forward. Sometimes they’re the buffer between Jodi and me when we may think differently about ideas! But our communication is really good, everyone has input and we are always coming up with new ideas and ways of addressing different issues that arise.
I think Jodi and I have worn these uniforms just about every day since we first started. It’s always about being visible in the local community so they can engage with us. Now our children have joined the team and are wearing the uniform too! Our daughter Eliza works in customer service and is our Human Resources and Social Media Manager. James is currently working as a trainee technician and completing his Cert 3 in pest management. When our children were young, we didn’t imagine that someday they would be working with us in the business. They have grown up with it and are very knowledgeable from our ‘over the dinner table’ conversations. Its great because they have chosen to be involved and support the family business. Coming home and seeing all of us dressed in the same uniform at the end of each day, working hard to achieve success and knowing that we are supporting lots of other family’s livelihoods … well, it feels good. It’s a real family business, boots and all.
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Find Jodi and Colin at Drop Dead Pest Control in Sydney's south.