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Pest Control’s Donald Trump

Have you ever watched NBC’s The Apprentice and thought “I could do that! I wish someone would give me the opportunity.”

During the next few months, Isotech Pest Management is doing exactly that with its own competition — The Exterminator. In this industry-focused contest, one winner will jointly run his or her own Isotech termite-service branch for one year, receiving an awards package that includes salary, a percentage of the new division’s first-year profits, 100 percent medical benefits, company vehicle, 401(k) and relocation, if needed.“We’re trying to give someone the opportunity that only comes once in a lifetime,” says Mike Masterson, president of Isotech, Los Angeles, Calif. “This contest is really for the person that’s been sitting there looking at shows like The Apprentice saying, ‘I could do that. If I could just get that break, I could show someone what I can do.’ Maybe that person is even already plotting how to get his or her own business, but doesn’t have the resources to get started and maintain the huge burn rate that transpires with a new start up.”

Isotech came up with the idea during discussions on how to expand the business. Company officials have been interviewing people for positions and talking with existing companies about making an acquisition. But, Masterson says they just weren’t finding the people or businesses that they felt were right for their company. “There have to be people who take this business seriously like we do, who are committed to the business and want to make a difference in the industry, but where do we find them?” In addition, Masterson says, he’s been in a similar position himself — working for a national pest company, knowing that he could fulfill the upper management positions, that he could run an operation, but never being given the opportunity. In thinking back on his own career, both with a prior company, then starting his own, Masterson mused over what really keeps people from building their own business. Realizing that it is often a matter of money, he and Isotech co-owner Kevin Alden decided they would provide the financial backing. “For the right person, we’ll front all that and let them run with it,” Masterson says.

While the contest does require that the applicant be experienced in the termite industry, the real criteria the company is looking for is creativity, Masterson says. The position requires the applicant have innovative ideas about sales, service and customer satisfaction, and will implement them. And this creative edge is tested right from the start — as applicants are asked to submit a 15-minute videotape or DVD of themselves. While not absolutely required, those who submit a video will have an advantage, Masterson says. “They’ll definitely have a huge edge. The tape is an option, but we would really like applicants to do them. It shows us how creative they are and that they’re proud of who they are.”

Resumes and written applications tend to portray an applicant’s “book learning” and experience, but don’t really tell who they are, Masterson explains. “Get creative; show us what talents you have to bring to the table,” he says. “If you’re leading a division, you have to have all the traits of a leader.” Or, as explained in the contest rules as to what to say on the tape or DVD: “Show us who you are and why you would be the perfect Exterminator. Take us on a tour of your life and show us what separates you from all the others. Wow us, DAZZLE us, and be memorable!”

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