Wil-Kil honors its vets all month long

Honoring veterans wasn’t a one-off for Wil-Kil Pest Control last Friday, Nov. 11, the official observance of Veterans Day.

Sun Prairie-based Wil-Kil, which also has locations in Menomonee Falls, Appleton, and Chippewa Falls, is honoring many of its employees who served in the armed forces throughout November on Facebook and Twitter (@WilKilPest) to thank them for their service.

“This is actually the first year we’ve individually recognized veterans,” says Janice Crisostomo, marketing and client experience manager at Wil-Kil. “However, support for veterans is ingrained in our organization. We have many leaders in our organization, past and present, with roots in the armed forces. The idea to individually recognize veterans came from a place of support and excitement for the contribution veterans have made to our organization and to serving our country. As time has gone on, we’ve seen more and more veterans join our ranks. We decided there was no time like the present to let our veterans know that they are appreciated and show our clients who the high caliber employees responsible for performing their services are.”

Two local Wil-Kil veteran employees came to the company in different ways but both say their time in the military provided them with skill sets uniquely suited to the pest control industry.

Shane McCoy, director of quality and technical training for Wil-Kil, has been with the company for 10 years and in the pest management field for 21 years.

McCoy joined the U.S. Air Force in 1995 and was on active duty until 2007, stationed in Las Vegas, New Jersey, Texas, and South Korea. He joined the Wisconsin National Guard at Truax Field in Madison in 2009 and continues to serve with the National Guard today.

According to McCoy, Wil-Kil was a natural fit when transitioning out of active duty service. “For me it was pretty easy since I did pest management for the Air Force. We took care of dining facilities, military base housing, all the buildings, the BX and commissary.” He also taught a six-week pest management course for active duty, guard, and reserve personnel.

Marsann McCants, a key account executive for Wil-Kil, is a retired master sergeant with the U.S. Air Force and Wisconsin Air National Guard.

Wil-Kil veteran employee Marsann McCants, key account executive, then and now.

McCants served in the Air Force as part of the 37th Equipment Maintenance Squadron at George Air Force Base in Victorville, Calif. At the end of her first enlistment, she transitioned directly into the Wisconsin Air National Guard as part of the 115th Fighter Wing based in Madison. She held several positions while enlisted in the military from administration to operations, and as part of her service she was able to travel to England, Germany, Scotland, Japan, Italy, and all over South America.

In her current position as a key account executive she acts as a liaison between Wil-Kil and regional commercial clients throughout the company’s service footprint.

“I never saw myself working for a pest control company and did not seek out a career in this industry,” admits McCants. “I was working for a local HR consulting firm whose primary clients were pest control companies across the country. The general manager of Wil-Kil Pest Control actually recruited me when the HR firm closed its Madison office and relocated to the East Coast. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude because he really educated me on the technical aspects and science to this very regulated field. He also educated me on the stability of this industry and Wil-Kil. I have been with the company now for 15 years.”

McCants notes the military, like the pest control industry, is driven by regulations and compliance, so neither of these were new concepts for her. “The pest control industry is a service-related industry, not unlike the military. Pest control companies serve their clients; military members serve their nation. Both groups supply a public need to others. Military veterans can adapt to a service industry more easily than the average civilian.”

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Veteran payoff

McCants notes veterans have many unique qualities that make them fantastic employees, both in pest control and in general.

“Veterans can lead as well as follow, so they are team players who focus on their individual contribution to the greater goal,” McCants explains. “They are adaptable, pick up training very quickly, and are typically able to jump right into the task and learn as they go. Veterans can also work long hours in stressful situations because the things that we consider stressful in the civilian sector are typically not going to stress out the average veteran. Finally, veterans make great problem solvers and typically have a great respect for procedures and accountability.”

McCoy agrees, noting veterans are used to working hard and getting up early, and bring attention to detail and core values instilled into them from the military.

While some veterans encounter difficulties transitioning from military to civilian life, McCoy says Wil-Kil was instrumental in making his transition a smooth one.

“I actually flew to interview with Wil-Kil while I was on active duty,” McCoy says. “I was coming to the end of my enlistment and deciding whether or not to make the Air Force a career or get out and join another career. Wil-Kil was a perfect fit for me and Wisconsin is a great place to raise a family.”

McCoy says it’s very important to have an employer that is supportive of its veteran employees, as Wil-Kil has been for its vets. “They celebrate the fact that I’m a veteran and the fact that I’m still in the National Guard. I deployed last year for three months and I knew that I was going to be taken care of by Wil-Kil and my coworkers because of their support. My coworkers showed up to our departure ceremony right before we left for deployment. It was a great event for everyone and it really showed the support I get from Wil-Kil.”

Wil-Kil has many employees active in PestVets, a veteran’s group organized by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) with four goals:

  1. Create veteran awareness of opportunities in the pest management industry
  2. Provide guidance to assist vets with transitioning
  3. Offer educational opportunities
  4. Develop an employment portal for returning vets

“PestVets is committed to engaging veterans in their successful transition to a productive and rewarding career in the pest management industry,” says McCoy. “PestVets actively promotes the recruitment of veterans to companies and supports those recruitment efforts through various education and training opportunities.”

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