David Royce is founder and chairman of Aptive Environmental, a Provo-based pest-control company that ranks among the nation’s leaders in the industry. It’s the fourth pest-control company he has owned—he built and sold the other three—and by far his largest enterprise. In less than three years, Aptive Environmental has grown to having hubs in 27 states and a workforce of over 3,000 employees. His first taste of success came after returning home from a Mormon mission when he got a job working for Moxie, a Texas-based pest-control company.
“I became the company’s top seller working in the summer months between BYU school years, and the owner asked me to write their sales training manual,” he says. Mr. Royce was also promoted to Vice President. It was Moxie’s owner, Jason Walton, who told him to drop his plans to go to study investment banking in school. “He said, ‘Why put in 80- to 100-hour weeks when you can start your own company,'” Mr. Royce recalls. When Mr. Royce graduated and left Moxie, Mr. Walton sold that company to Terminex for $11 million.
Let’s Build A Door-To-Door Business
“That gave me a great blueprint [proving that] I could do the same,” Mr. Royce says. “There are many, many returned LDS missionaries who are used to the door-to-door approach we have used to get new customers,” he said. “And moving to Provo was [a] no-brainer. There are tens of thousands of college students within driving distance to Provo, and a large percentage have missionary experience.” Using an employee benefit package that includes perks such as trips and retreats, company barbeques, a headquarters with recreation facilities, and generous cash incentives, “we’ve carved a culture with strong core values and the ability to recruit and retain top talent. One of the reasons I’ve grown this company without using outside investment is that I can keep control of our operations.”
Built To Sell
Terminex bought another one of Mr. Royce’s companies in 2015 for an estimated $135 million, and shortly thereafter, Mr. Royce launched Aptive Environmental. His role with Aptive has changed from that of its predecessors. Because he continues to live in Southern California with his wife and two daughters, “I’m less involved in the day-to-day operations. I have a top executive team in place, and now I’m focused on innovation and our marketing strategies.”
He says much of Aptive’s business is “for customers who don’t have problems with bugs and pests, and don’t want them. We do look, first and foremost, for ways to solve or prevent pest problems in an environmentally friendly way.” That said, Mr. Royce knows pest control is a recession-proof industry. “They don’t know what the economy’s doing,” he said, “so there are always pests to handle.”