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posted: 7/14/2020 1:00 AM

Coffee Break: Garrett Garofolo, owner, Mosquito Authority Northern Illinois

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  • Garrett Garofolo

    Garrett Garofolo


Q: Describe your company.

A: We eliminate mosquitoes and ticks and the potentially dangerous diseases they carry from the outdoor spaces you like to enjoy and entertain in. "We make backyards worth mowing and front porches worth swinging."

Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year? 

A: We have expanded recently and hope that continues well into the future.

Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?

A: With the drastic societal changes that have recently happened, navigating and adapting to those changes will be at the forefront. 

Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?

A: I don't know if it's the hottest, but I found it funny and interesting. There is a group that raises sterile male mosquitoes to bring to someone's property and mate with female mosquitoes to create eggs that will not hatch ... in theory, ultimately eliminating population. It does create an interesting challenge and the pleasure to explain to a customer that in order for you to get rid of all the mosquitoes on your property you are going to bring even more mosquitoes to your property.

Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie executive, what would it be?

A: Don't forget the little things. The beauty of the big picture is in the details. Use it as an opportunity to reach out and give all your customers a "hug." Many times the little things have nothing to do with the job at hand. It could be as small as just to remember to smile and brighten someone's day. It's not what you say to greet a customer but how you say it with your tone and inflection. I once had a customer who said she would never use a bathroom away from her home, except at my facility she thought our bathrooms were nicer and cleaner than at her home. The little things are what make the big picture go from a black and white to a bold vivid 4K.

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

A: We are Customer Service Specialists dedicated to service excellence!

Q: From a business outlook, whom do you look up to?

A: I have had the opportunity to learn from many different people and companies either through experience or through management training. Number one is my dad, I can write an entire chapter on that alone. We worked together closely for a very long time.

Over the years he showed and taught me how to do and not to do so many things. And many things we learned together. One of the biggest things I always remember he said to me was, "Garrett, never forget business is about relationships. People doing business with people." That is something that always sticks with me.

Disney for framing things as on or offstage and leaving nothing to chance both inspired me to look at each sale as an overall onstage experience and each moment of customer contact to be analyzed and maximized. Starbucks for their quest to create that other place away from home inspired me to turn my previous business' customer waiting area into a movie theater serving popcorn and soft drinks. The Ritz-Carlton with their amazing family culture across all jobs and pay-grades with employees and guests really hit me on the culture created and how they all felt about each other. Currently, I randomly leave behind small gifts or "hugs" for my customers, always keeping it a surprise. It makes doing business fun and memorable for you and the customer. I mean, who does not like looking through the Cracker Jack box?

Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?

A: We are environmentally friendly. With our product and procedure, mosquito control is not the toxic event some people imagine. Our product is approved by the EPA and is safer than the Deet you rub on your skin. So it's safe for kids and pets but we are also bee and beneficial insects friendly as well.

Q: Was there a moment in your career that didn't go as you had planned? What lesson did you learn from it? 

A: I worked and was part of building up both retail auto repair and wholesale tire facilities for 43 years. We built it from one location to 13 in seven states servicing some of the biggest and best customers out there. For many different reasons, what I helped build and where I thought I would work and be well into retirement was not going to happen.

After getting a divorce personally and then changes to the corporate business philosophy, the business was sold.

One minute I was sailing along and the next minute It was all gone. As the quote goes "Everyone has a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth!" To me, the success and character of a person is how you handle it from there.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I like to enjoy my time out on the lake with my wife, friends and my dogs.

Q: What book is on your nightstand?

A: Recently I have only had the hours in the day to apply what I have learned, so currently it is a notebook to write down ideas and/or procedures or important ideas I don't want to forget that come to mind as I attempt to get some sleep.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: The ongoing pursuit of clearing the never-ending list of to-do's.

Q: If you were not doing this job, what do you think you would be doing?

A: I believe I would be doing something that involves helping or teaching people somehow. I enjoy helping people.

Q: What was your first paying job?

A: Working at a concession stand at an Ice Rink.

Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?

A: Hockey for sure. I grew up playing all the sports with my three brothers and friends, but hockey was always my favorite. Previously, I have been a season-ticket holder and involved in sports advertising.

The excitement of the game, the passion and personalities of the players and the fans just cannot be beat! You have to be crazy not to just want to be a part of it.