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Pest control firm's success comes from adapting to changing regulations, market

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Phil Waldorf, founder and CEO of Fairfield-based pest control provider Bell Environmental Services, lost some of his biggest clients when the state's pharmaceutical giants started consolidating and shuttering their facilities.

"In the pharmaceutical industry, rodents and roaches would get into their computer systems and labs, and since we don't use pesticides or chemicals to treat problems, they found our method to be the most effective and least harmful to their equipment," Waldorf said. "Our business spread to pharmaceutical firms nationally through word of mouth, but with those companies really downsizing as of late, it took away a lot of our business, and we knew we had to make up for it somewhere."

Luckily for Waldorf, his pesticide-free InstantFreeze technology fit right into treating the bedbug outbreak in the tristate area, which saw demand for his business explode as firms like Pfizer Inc. were closing their doors here.

"Hospitals in New Jersey are some of our biggest customers for bed bug treatments. When hospitals have bedbugs in their emergency rooms, they need someone there immediately, and we have six bedbug-sniffing dogs ready to go," Waldorf said.

With 65 employees and 60 vehicles on the road today, Waldorf said he has been steadily growing his business for nearly 50 years by continually looking for niche markets, forming divisions that focus on specific pests for different industries and investing in safer technology.

"Everyone complains about government regulations, and they've put a lot of companies out of business, but we have found at our company that's an asset as opposed to a liability," Waldorf said. "Every time a chemical is banned — which happens pretty often — because of the way we make our product, our volume expands."

Waldorf said when chemical treatments for bird control were outlawed, the commercial and industrial buildings using his rodent and insect services were forced to look into mechanical means to keep them away, and he seized the opportunity to bring in more business by creating an electronic net system.

"I'm not an engineer, but if a cup falls on the floor, you pick it up — and that's what leads to more business," he said.

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