Life-long friends Chad Mueller and Ed Rust have gone into business as franchisers of Mosquito Joe, a mosquito spray and treatment service. Leading up to their official launch next month, the Belleville natives have been preparing for their new trade. Through their recent training, the two have learned one mosquito can lay up to 100 to 300 eggs at one time and that the female mosquito will lay 1,000 to 3,000 eggs during an average six-week lifespan. The males mosquitoes do not bite, only the females do because they need the protein to reproduce. Business writer Will Buss met the business partners last week and learned more about their new enterprise:
How did you get into this business?
Ed: “Chad and I met and became best friends in first grade in St. Teresa’s School (in Belleville). We’re both born and raised here in Belleville. We went off to grade school together, went to separate high schools, but stayed friends. We went to Mizzou and roomed together during freshman year, so we’ve been together for a long time. He was the best man in my wedding, and I was the best man in his wedding. We both work in the medical sales for different companies, but we occasionally run into each other in the OR. Back and forth through the years, Chad and I always talked about being on our own and doing some joint-venture type of thing. We both started looking at franchising through the years as an idea. I had started looking at up-and-coming franchises and real necessity franchises. I wanted to do something that would give back to the community as a business and came across Mosquito Joe. I ran into Chad one day in the OR and said ‘Go online, take a look at this company and tell me what you think.’ He called me back that night. That was four or five months ago. We started doing our homework and doing our research and felt like this was the best thing to do.”
Chad: “He told me to take a look at this. When I did, I called him and said I was really intrigued with this. My thought is that I didn’t want to step on your toes because you brought it to me, if you have somebody you’re thinking about partnering up with or doing it yourself. He said that’s why I mentioned it to you because if I do it, I wanted to do it with a business partner. Let’s walk down the road together, let’s investigate this and at any point in time if either one of us feel uncomfortable or don’t want to do it, with no questions asked, you can just bail out by saying I just don’t want to do it, it’s not for me, and without ruining our friendship. As we got into it, the more excited we got about this business.”
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What is Mosquito Joe?
Ed: “The main focus is spraying the outdoors for mosquitoes, fleas and ticks.”
Where will you go to spray?
Chad: “There are two franchises in St. Louis. One of the things that we did early on is that we went to the St. Louis Home Show, because we knew that they would be there. We stopped in, introduced ourselves, we told them what we were planning on doing on the Illinois side, and they were very helpful as far as giving us information. They said they could not believe the response they were getting in February from this home show from people walking by and wondering what this is. So that was another feather in our cap, and we were onto something good. We wanted to stay on the Illinois side because it’s our community, we live on this side, we were born and raised over here and we wanted to stay on the metro-east side. So we go out south of Columbia and Waterloo all the way up to Edwardsville and Jerseyville. Right now, we will be in Collinsville and Troy and everywhere in between.”
What distinguishes your product from others?
Ed: “I think the good thing about our company is that there are no contracts. So if you want to do one spray, you can do one spray. It’s not designed to be a one-spray event, because they will come back. It’s also the customer service that we provide.”
Chad: “We like the fact that there are no contracts, and we are 100 percent guaranteed. We’re not saying that we are going to get rid of 100 percent of your mosquitoes, but we’re going to control them, kill them and maintain them. Your first spray is 85 to 90 percent controlling the mosquitoes. Your second spray is 90 to 95 percent. It’s ongoing, 21 days, when you need it treated again. Our season begins in April and ends on Oct. 31. We will do outdoor events like weddings or anniversary parties or one-day events, we can do that. I think the one thing that attracted us to this is that a lot of people like their outdoor patios, outdoor pizza ovens, outdoor fireplaces and fire pits and pools, and they want to spend their time outside. There is a need to control this.”
Are you both working full time in this franchise?
Chad: “We are both currently in our medical positions. For me, in the summer months, it slows down tremendously. So we are hoping that down the road at some point in time that this will be our full-time position. We have one truck today, and I would like to have seven to 10 vehicles out on the road in the future.”
When do you start offering service to local consumers?
Ed: “Our official opening is June 1. We’re just getting ready to pull the trigger. We had to be licensed by the Department of Agriculture and get all of the licensing. We are trained and licensed. We’re not just going out in a truck and spraying chemicals.”
Chad: “There are certain steps you have to take. We just got our vehicle and we took our applicators license to be the operator of our business to be able to spray for our customers. Both Ed and I feel that if you are the owner of the company, you better the know ins and outs, backwards and forwards, of that company in everything you do. So we do everything. Right now, we are going to be the applicator, we are going to be applying the product onto the shrubs, bushes and plants. We’re very committed to Mosquito Joe, and this is our future.”
Ed: “I think the other great thing that the potential customers and new customers will really be impressed with is the web site itself. Just from the standpoint of it’s not just about going there to sell you on Mosquito Joe; it’s actually going to educate people with a lot of great articles about the different diseases that the mosquitoes, fleas and ticks carry for humans, as well as pets. It’s just very educational. That’s one of the things that attracted us, too. It’s not just going out there and getting a sale. It’s about educating the people about why this is necessary, why it is a good product and why it is a good company. We thought that we could couple that with us being local. We’re not just flying into town and setting up a franchise and saying give us your business. Because we were born and raised here, we’re trying keep it local and trying to help out the community.”
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2526.
Chad Mueller and Ed Rust
Jobs: Co-owners, Mosquito Joe in Swansea (618-360-2903/www.metroeaststl.mosquitojoe.com)
Outlook: “I know more about mosquitoes that I thought I would ever know.” (Chad Mueller)