In this feature, we turn the spotlight onto some of the key companies within our industry. In this edition, we look at product and equipment supplier Agserv.
Agserv is regarded in the professional pest control industry as one of the ‘big three’ distributors that supply products and equipment to pest managers. It prides itself on meeting the needs of pest managers by being innovative and fast growing, always with an eye on the future.
Agserv: Quick Facts
- Overview: Specialist supplier of products and application equipment for the professional pest control industry.
- Company size: Five offices, serviced by 22 staff. Administrative head office in Sydney.
- Specialisation: Offers products from both R&D-based multinational and local specialist manufacturers. A one-stop shop for pest control needs.
Growing, with deep roots
Agserv’s long history dates back to 1908 and has been in the Hess family for more than 40 years. Now owned and operated by managing director Eris Hess, it was back in 1976 that his father Patrick Hess first acquired the business.
“Back then, Agserv was essentially a weed control business. My father sold spray equipment and chemicals to local businesses and councils in Sydney,” explained Mr Hess. Growth was always the aim; in 1978 Agserv acquired Melbourne-based Rudduck and soon expanded its presence by opening branches in Sydney and Brisbane.
Since 2011 Mr Hess has been the company’s single business owner. Today, Agserv is a one-stop shop for professional pest control products and application equipment for pest managers across Australia.
Qualified, professional advice
Whether they’ve worked on the chemical manufacturing side or out in the field as a pest technician, every Agserv employee has their pest control licence, including all customer service staff.
“Ever since my father took over the business in the 1970s, we’ve ensured that customers are getting a service, not just a product. We make sure they understand how to use the products they purchase. Having highly qualified staff is part of our commitment to that service,” said Mr Hess.
Agserv sees the pest control industry as a community, with its employees as helpful conduits for sharing information. Mr Hess explained, “Our staff talk to customers and listen to what’s happening out in the field, for example what products or kinds of applications pest managers are seeing success with.
“The next pest manager who visits the branch might ask for some advice on, say, rodent control, and our staff can give them tips about what other pest managers are having success with. Our customers receive quality information, tips and news – which is invaluable for technicians who are out on the road all day, often working alone.”
Listening to pest managers
Listening and learning is key. Two new developments, actioned as a result of listening to customer feedback, are currently in the pipeline. The first, going live in August, is an improved accounting software that will deliver more efficient invoicing and order processing. The second development is a brand new online customer portal, which will be released in the next 12-24 months.
The customer portal, accessed via the Agserv website, will allow customers to check live stock levels at Agserv branches and process orders online. They will also be able to look up product labels and SDS documents. The portal will be available exclusively to professional pest managers and not to the general public.
“We know that pest managers work hard out on the road and often don’t have time to come into one of our branches during work hours. This is why we’re developing the new online portal – so pest managers can order the products they need, when it’s convenient to them.
“A pest manager can check their vehicle at the end of the day see what they’re running low on, and process their order that evening. They can pick up in store whenever is convenient for them. It’s part of our commitment to help pest managers as much as possible, in whatever way we can,” said Mr Hess.
New for 2018
Since taking the helm, Mr Hess has overseen expansion of the business to include branches in Newcastle and Brisbane. In 2018, the company added Adelaide to the list, with the acquisition of Jade Chemicals SA. As Agserv’s client base has grown nationwide, so has the need for the company to have presence across the country. “The acquisition of Jade Chemicals shows that we’re moving towards being the truly national business we want to be,” said Mr Hess. “And we remain a fully Australian-owned business, which we’re very proud to be.”
The year 2018 has also seen Mr Hess taking an active role in the development of AEPMA’s Code of Practice documents, which outline best practice for the industry. Mr Hess chaired the board for the rodent control documentation and also sat on the board for the pre-construction termite documentation. With these codes being endorsed by ACCC, they are hugely valuable for both pest managers and their customers.
Agserv’s annual Pestech events hit the road between 23-27 July, beginning in Adelaide before touring to Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane. Around 500 pest managers are expected to attend to learn about the latest developments in the industry, including the chance to hear from former Flick Anticimex national technical manager Gary Stephenson and a presentation from termite specialist and self-proclaimed termite nerd Scott Kleinschmidt.
Beyond 2018, Agserv will continue to push ahead with business growth. “The more we grow, the greater the buying power we have to service our customers better,” explained Mr Hess. With Agserv expanding its footprint across the country, this is good news for pest managers nationwide.