Pest control operation builds up tool kit

money-glitz | Eurus Yiu 6 Jul 2020

It seems to be a good time for pest control companies to expand their business amid the coronavirus pandemic and summertime. However, instead of grabbing this golden chance, Spencer Kwan Chor-chung, managing director of United Elite Service, chooses to educate his clients on how to do pest control themselves without worrying about losing his revenue.

Kwan has specialized in pest control for the past 39 years and believes word-of-mouth marketing is the best way to promote his services.

Kwan says he got into the industry completely by chance. He gave up a chance to further his career in the legal industry, as he found himself more interested in traveling around and communicating with people. It is this curiosity that motivated him to leave corporate life.

He then got into a global pest control company as a salesman, which built a solid foundation for him to start his company. Despite being in a management role, Kwan still works on the front lines.

Having spent almost half of his life with insects, Kwan has many remarkable memories. "Have you ever walked through the Cross-Harbour Tunnel? I have." Kwan said.

Kwan was contracted to clean up the tunnel in 1983. "It was very dark, and there was only one light every 10 meters." When he opened the ventilation wall, he found cockroaches that were closely packed and engaging in cannibalism.

Instead of being afraid, Kwan found himself thinking that "cockroaches are very interesting creatures". "I love to investigate them," Kwan said. "That is why I have been in this industry for such a long time."

United Elite has been around for more than 26 years, and its customers include hotels, shopping malls, office buildings and airlines. Since the emergence of dengue fever, the health protection centers of various countries have strengthened their standards for aircraft cleaning. Because of the short aircraft staying time, it is very important for the cleaning companies to have well-organized sanitizing and pest control procedures.

Kwan is most proud of being able to effectively use chemicals that meet various aviation requirements within a limited time. He explained that his job is to get mosquitoes inactivated, or even killed, by using drugs, after which the officials will conduct live mosquito testing to ensure compliance.

United Elite extended its business scope to the aviation industry in 2000. So far, its franchise has spread to 31 cities in more than 20 countries. It further established a solid cooperative relationship with airlines such as Cathay Pacific Airways (0293), United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines.

Although the aviation industry was grounded due to the coronavirus, Kwan is still optimistic. "The pandemic has offered us a chance to better prepare ourselves," he said. He added that the company has provided more training for staff so they are ready should flights resume.

Kwan has built up good relations with aviation departments across the world. Recently, Kwan was invited by a New Zealand official to attend a United Nations conference to share his experience in aircraft cleaning and draft guidelines for cleaning services providers in preparation for the resumption of flights.

As someone who does big business with small bugs, Kwan says people have become more willing to pay for professional pest control services. "I am not worried about my business. All we need to do is always make sure we are prepared for challenges that may come our way."

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