The president of Mississauga-based pest control company Orkin Canada said the experience of being on Undercover Boss Canada was great for business.
“You get such a clearer picture of what’s going on doing it the way we did it,” Gary Muldoon told YourMississaugaBiz.com in a phone call from Atlanta, Georgia.
“I think they selected our company because it’s different,” Muldoon said about being selected for the W Network reality-television program, documenting executives who go to the company’s front lines.
“In our business, you could be with a canine unit and a bedbug dog, you could be with the animal control guys, apartments, residential people, commercial people, all types of situations.”
With Muldoon was in disguise as an actor-trainee “Michael,” the technicians featured on the show spoke to him as they would any other fellow employee, allowing the company president to learn more about their everyday cases and their personal lives off the job.
The executive said that the reality of what the job entails really hit him during filming, like when Muldoon was tasked with trapping an animal discovered under a customer’s deck. “I’m thinking, they’re just fooling around,” he said. “And sure enough I look up and there’s a live raccoon.”
During the “reveal segment” which brought the featured technicians back to the company’s head office in Mississauga on Kennedy Road, Muldoon received beneficial feedback about their experience with “Michael the trainee,” “Some of them would comment, ‘Well he was really nice but he really slowed me down’,” Muldoon said with a laugh.
The show also gave Muldoon the opportunity to notice things on the job that he could change that would benefit staff across the country. “I walk back to my office and there’s five pages of notes written out of little things that you see,” he said.
Muldoon said last year the company had $100 million in revenue, employed 750 people and spent millions of dollars on supplies. But after seven or eight days driving his company’s vehicles, using their equipment and wearing the uniforms, he started to get a different perspective.
“Maybe these trucks should be a little bigger, maybe these uniforms should have kneepads, maybe the vacuums should be less noisy,” he said. “All these things you see as a president that you know you could fix in a heartbeat you weren’t overly aware of them before.”
Muldoon said the experience also led to company employees viewing him differently. “I got a lot of brownie points from them,” he said of the staff feedback so far. “They’ve come up to me since then and said ‘I think it’s really neat that you’d go under a deck. For the president of the company to do that I think that’s really, really nice.’”
“You’re not just some guy in a suit who runs numbers all day,” he said. “I don’t get the luxury of getting ‘belly-to-belly’ with them on a regular basis. A lot of my communication is through email and speeches.”
Orkin Canada’s participation in the show required long production and planning days, and up-close encounters with pests most people would rather avoid.
Still, Muldoon said the experience was well worth all the hassles. “To get one-on-one with how [employees] really felt about the job and their family and all the other stuff, I really enjoyed that part,” he said.
“And I learned a lot. And my advice to another president would be ‘I would do that in a heartbeat.’”
And while he admits the visibility for his company didn’t hurt, Muldoon was excited about using the show to kill stereotypes about the pest-control business. “We’re not hillbillies, we don’t drive around with skull and crossbones on our trucks,” he said, referring to the reality-television program Billy the Exterminator. “The [production company] agreed that they would do it and show us as the professionals as we are.”
Orkin Canada’s head office in Mississauga employs about 60 people. The company’s service and training centre is also based in Mississauga and employs about 70 people.
Muldoon’s episode of Undercover Boss Canada aired on January 24.