Perseverance. When discussing posthumous PMP Hall of Fame inductee Raymond Edward ‘Ed’ Scherzinger, that’s the word industry colleagues keep voicing and illustrating.
Facing myriad obstacles throughout his lengthy pest control career, Scherzinger refused to capitulate. Not only was his “never surrender” attitude absolutely contagious, but it also was instrumental in helping industry trade journal Pest Control Technology (PCT) overcome a bumpy beginning, according to his sons, Steve and Glenn Scherzinger.
Ed Scherzinger was one of the original investors in PCT, which was launched in November 1972 primarily as a training tool for pest control technicians. Glenn Scherzinger says the startup spent considerable time and money sifting through Yellow Pages directories from large cities throughout the U.S. and calling listed pest control companies to qualify them for the monthly magazine’s controlled circulation, as well as to upsell additional paid subscriptions for $12 per year. (Most qualifying locations initially received one complimentary copy.) When that monumental task was completed, PCT had a circulation of about 15,000 pest control technicians, including about 2,000 paid subscribers, Glenn Scherzinger adds.
The publishing partnership also invested in state-of-the-art printing equipment, which cash-strapped the business.
“The publishing equipment was the best at the time, but it was overhead and overkill,” says Glenn Scherzinger, owner of Sure Thing Pest Control in Cincinnati who worked on the monthly publication with his father for years. “We weren’t a printer; we were publishers of one, startup trade magazine. With the equipment expenditures, circulation investment and day-to-day operational costs, we ran out of money after six months.
“We were on the verge of having to file bankruptcy and were facing a formidable competitor in Pest Control magazine [now named Pest Management Professional], which had a 40-year head start on us,” Glenn Sherzinger adds. “It was ‘put up or close up’ time, and Dad had the conviction to bet big on the industry. He bought out the other investors and became majority owner of PCT.”
Ed Scherzinger moved the operation from Cleveland to Cincinnati for tighter control and published the technician’s guide through late 1980, when he sold it to the founder of Cleveland-based GIE Media. The divestiture allowed Ed Scherzinger to concentrate on transitioning the pest management company started by his father, Bernie “B.C.” Scherzinger, in 1934 to a third generation of Scherzingers.
A man of conviction
Steve Scherzinger, past president of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and current president of fourth-generation Scherzinger Pest Control in Cincinnati, will never forget the moment he found out his father would be inducted into the PMP Hall of Fame at NPMA’s PestWorld this year.
“When PMP magazine called me on my cell phone with the news, I had to pull to the side of the road,” Steve Scherzinger says. “It was a complete surprise. It took me a while to compose myself. Fortunately, my wife, Barbara, was with me.
“Dad didn’t have the easiest of lives, but he never let stuff such as his MS [multiple sclerosis] diagnosis in his early-30s get him down,” Steve Scherzinger adds. “Instead, he taught the rest of us in the industry how to persevere and think and push through obstacles,” his son says in a crackling, softening voice.
Steve Scherzinger says his father’s conviction to publish a technician’s journal was a crucial investment in the education and ultimate professionalism of the industry.
“Some old timers still talk about Dad’s Technician’s Corner column, ghostwritten under the byline Phillip C. Traynor — the alleged author’s initials comprising PCT was no coincidence,” adds Steve Scherzinger. “And the publication’s monthly Bugmate piece — featuring a close-up photo of the pest of the month on one side and identification and control tips on the other — was a reprints cash cow for years.”
Mentor and marketer
Ed Scherzinger’s entrepreneurial spirit didn’t end with the printed word — or with his time on earth. It extends presently, well beyond the trade publication — rippling throughout the industry, through his sons’ companies and the countless colleagues he lifted to higher ground by freely sharing his knowledge and experience.
Fellow pmp Hall of Famer Bob Dold Sr., co-owner of Rose Pest Solutions in Northfield, Ill., recalls how Ed Scherzinger held court many nights during Purdue University’s annual Pest Management Conference.
“In the evenings, some of the industry’s brightest gathered in Purdue’s Memorial Union to swap stories and brainstorm on obstacles and opportunities,” Dold says. “Ed typically was a pivotal player in those discussions — known to its participants as The Liars Club for the one-upmanship that occurred regularly.
“Ed was great with people,” Dold adds. “He was always open, straightforward and helpful — even with competitors. With Ed, advancement of our profession always came first.”
An enterprising marketer, Ed Scherzinger blazed a path for small pest management companies by how he positioned and marketed his family business.
Studying to be a U.S. Navy pilot when World War II ended, he returned to his father’s business with ambitious growth plans.
At the time, B.C. Scherzinger’s business was focused solely on termite control March through October, leaving four months each year for him to get his “travel fix.” But Ed Scherzinger, ever the visionary, wanted to expand the business, partly so one day it could also support his children and their future families.
Under Ed Scherzinger’s guidance, the company expanded into a fullservice business, offering both termite and general pest control to residential and commercial accounts.
A savvy marketer, he hired a renowned Midwest artist to redesign the company’s logo and color palette. The logo (pictured below) is still used.
“Our logo’s aqua oval, and the swooping ‘g’ and asterisk-dotted ‘i’ in ‘Scherzinger’ — all are design elements consumers easily recognize and have learned to gravitate toward,” says Steve Scherzinger.
Ed Scherzinger also was an early adopter of advertising by direct mail, radio and eventually 10-second television spots. He also invested early on in eye-catching signage on and in buses and on billboards.
Behind all the mentoring and marketing was a rare drive to move forward, together — whether it be by foot or motorized cart, as Ed Scherzinger primarily did from the early 1980s (because of MS) until he succumbed to pneumonia in 1993 at age 63.
“Although confined for the most part to a motorized cart the last decade of his life, Dad turned even that obstacle into an opportunity,” Steve Scherzinger notes. “Dad threw himself into computer programming, back when mainframes were the size of trucks.
“We were one of the first pest management companies to write proprietary software to generate service tickets, cancellation reports, sales commission reports, etc.,” Steve Scherzinger says. “You name it, Dad created a program for it … and then he shared his computer coding with his close colleagues.”