Meagher Pest Control
James and Keyma Mount have been great friends and neighbors to many in Jefferson County over the last 25 years. Their business, Meagher Pest Control is a familiar sight around the area, and many are loyal customers of theirs.
Finding out how it all came to be is always fascinating. Meagher Pest Control is a classic example of hard work, enduring love and spousal support, and perseverance.
James Mount finished his high school studies in Woodlawn in 1999, and immediately enlisted with the military, serving in both the National Guard and the Navy. He served our country for six years, being stationed in Virginia Beach, Maine, and even Iceland during his service.
When he returned to the area, he joined the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office hoping to use some of the military knowledge he had learned in making him useful to law enforcement. It was during these years that James met Keyma, a vivacious, fun-loving girl who adored him, and supported him in anything he wanted to do. He could not have known how much he would need her strength for the future that awaited them.
He worked at the Sheriff’s Office for five years, until an opportunity came up to work for Orkin, a nationally known termite and pest control service.
It was there that he learned the industry of professional pest control services, and how much damage and stress insects can cause if left uncontrolled. He found that he enjoyed meeting new customers, helping to solve their problem, and giving them the care and attention they needed. He also discovered that many in the industry did not care for the customer the way that they should, and provided bad service by quickly spraying chemical and moving on to the next job. He decided that if he were ever going to go into business for himself, he would be a different kind of exterminator.
In 2010, James and Keyma married. She was serving as a school teacher at Summersville Grade School at the time, and would continue for many years to come.
In 2012, after almost three years of exterminating, James went back to the Sheriff’s office, this time as the Jail Administrator. He learned many things from this position, including personnel management, financial skills, and scheduling. Each of these skills would be beneficial for his future career. Challenging inmates and confrontational attitudes only served James to be better prepared for his future, and dealing with negativity and strife often found in small business.
James never forgot all he had learned while working with Orkin, and missed some aspects of extermination such as meeting friendly customers, moving job sites often, and the freedom that comes with running your own business.
In 2015 James, along with Joe Meagher, (who also worked at the Sheriff’s office) decided to open a pest control service. They kept their full time jobs, and did extermination on the side to earn extra money. They wanted to try and see if they could make a living at it. The early days were hard. James remembers changing from his Sheriff’s office uniform into his extermination uniform and working late into the night almost every day of the week.
Eventually the stress took its toll and James had to choose which path he would take to provide for his family. He chose Meagher Pest Control, hoping to use all the skills life had taught him to grow the company into what he believed it could be.
James remembers those first grueling years, earning every customer by delivering quality, fast service, and excellent follow-up. Business picked up, and he found himself working harder than he had ever worked to service all the customers well, deal with emergency calls, and be available to hundreds of customers at a moment’s notice. He remembers one story of being physically sick, but not being able to stop work. He was spraying outside, thereby avoiding contact with customers, and was driving from job to job in an old truck with no radio or AC at night, stopping every few miles to be sick along the roadside. He remembers thinking, “if I ever make this business successful, I’ll never forget this night, and the sacrifices it took to get there.”
In July of 2018, James offered to buy out Joe and take full control of their growing company. He desired to be the master of his own fate, and sink or swim, wanted full control over whether the business was successful or not. Joe agreed, and they remain good friends to this day.
The name Meagher Pest Control was already widely known, and would cost quite a bit of money to change, let alone the fact might cause quite a bit of confusion to existing customers, so James decided to keep the name as it was known.
James remembers how much Keyma helped him through those years. They were not making a living in pest control at the time, and they literally relied on her income as a teacher to pay the bills. On top of that, they had two young daughters that James guiltily remembers not having much time for while he hustled to get their fledgling company off the ground. “Keyma was my rock during those years, and still is to this day” says James. “She encouraged me, pushed me to keep going, and believed in what we were trying to build. I’ll always be grateful for the strength she showed during that time, and to this day.”
In 2020, Jame’s nephew Kody called him up looking for a job. While not being sure if there was enough work for two, James agreed, and Kody continues being a vital part of MPC to this day. Kody took to the work naturally, was excellent with customers, and enjoyed the discipline of providing detailed and organized extermination services for hundreds of clients.
Kody was the first of several. In the next couple of years James would hire several part time friends from law enforcement to help as well. “I couldn’t have built this business without the help of my team,” James says. “Every person that has worked at MPC has helped deliver great service to our customers, and I’m thankful for everyone that has been a part of it.”
James invested in administrative help in the form of Heather. She answers phones, runs the routes and schedules, and assists in invoicing.
James says “Heather is vital to our business, and our customers love her. She represents us well, and communicates with customers so they know what to expect. We are so thankful to have someone to answer the calls live. Our customers love taking to a real person who cares.”
To date, Meagher Pest Control has 4 trucks (rigs), 5 full time employees, and a couple of part time helpers as well. They recently opened a branch in Harrisburg with the help of their friend Drew Lunsford. They are looking to grow their service area to the Rt 13 corridor.
When asked what sets his business apart from other pest control companies, James lists many factors.
“We are Professional. Our image is important to us. We pull up in a well marked, clean company vehicle, and our employees are neatly dressed in company uniforms so they are easily identifiable.”
“We truly care about our customers and their bug problems. We take our industry seriously and have devoted our lives to what we do.”
“ We are big enough to get any size job done, but small enough to remember your name, and give personal service.”
“I remember recently a customer had ants. We serviced them, then a few days later, I was thinking about them and asked Heather to call back to make sure they were gone. That speaks to our level of service and attention.”
“Being effective and affordable. We are not as expensive as some national brands, but we are not the cheapest option available. We charge what we need to charge to do the job right and care enough to make sure it’s fixed correctly. Being mid-range in price is perfect for what most of our customers are looking for.”
Meagher Pest Control offers regular preventative maintenance applications inside or out for regular pests such as ants, spiders, or roaches. They also specialize in termite mitigation. Termites can cause massive damage if left unattended. MPC can provide drilling and injection services, as well as annual bait systems to keep these pesky insects from returning. “We use the exact same chemicals and methods as the national companies, often at a significant savings, and definitely with more care and attention,” James reports.
They are also one of three companies in all of southern Illinois to offer Bed Bug remediation services. Bed bugs are extremely hard to find, and even harder to kill. Rather than using harsh chemicals in an intimate space like a bedroom, MPC uses heat! They carefully seal off a space, and use commercial heaters to super-heat the space, thereby killing the bedbugs.
One last service that is not commonly known is Mosquito Repellant Services. They can fog a backyard, swimming pool area, or outdoor space to keep these summertime visitors to a minimum.
James wants to make sure customers understand that they are a full service pest control service, but stop short of wildlife removal. “We take care of your bugs and spiders, not your raccoons or moles,” James joked. “People need to call the animal control services from the city if they have large wildlife trouble.”
When not working at their jobs, the Mount family are committed members of Central Church in Mt Vernon. Their faith plays a key role in their home and business values. Their girls are active in sports, participating in cheerleading and basketball, keeping the family hopping during school nights and some weekends.
They all enjoy outdoor activities, especially boating with friends. They are foodies, enjoying finding new and unique food and drink options around the area.
If you see the Mount’s out and about the area, thank them for being a great part of our community and support their business if you can! James summed up his vision by saying “My goal is to provide excellent services for my customers and a job opportunity for my employees equivalent to anything else in this area. I want to have excellent benefits and pay opportunities for my team. As the business does better, I want all of us to be doing better personally. We are all in this together, doing great work for our customers making our own lives better in the process.”
Story brought to you by: the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Small Business Council