ABC Pest Control marks 40 years of service
When the average person thinks about household pests, it’s never a pretty thought – especially in Florida, where such critters thrive in tropical climates.
But those icky, creepy crawly situations are one reason ABC Pest Control is celebrating four decades serving Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties.
Ray Libretto founded the locally owned family business ABC Pest Control 40 years ago, as well as Certified Operators of Southwest Florida 18 years ago. His son, Nick Libretto, took over the business awhile back. He’s a former Cape Coral firefighter and the current president of Certified Operators of Southwest Florida.
Nicholas, Ray’s grandson and Nick’s son, is the third generation Libretto to join the family business.
Ray Libretto passed away two years ago.
What makes ABC Pest Control a trustworthy name in the industry?
For one thing, they take care of their employees.
“All of my employees has been with me about 10 years now. We try to take care of them, pay them well, have employee picnics and barbecues. We try to have a family atmosphere here,” Nick Libretto said.
Another reason, is they love giving back to the community.
The family-owned business started Letters to Santa for the kids, participates in Relay for Life and other local fundraisers. Nick Libretto also started Firefighters Fighting Cancer. Currently, firefighters who are high-risk remain uninsured for cancer under their Florida state disability plan unless they can prove they contracted the disease from being on the job. Libretto also has a long time involvement with youth sports programs and Twins Baseball.
ABC Pest Control relies its reputation, valuing word-of-mouth referrals from loyal clients.
“We don’t try to upsell our customers. We try to give them a good product, at a good price, and really quick service. We get out there within 24 hours and take care of the problems,” said Libretto.
“When they come home, they panic,” he added, explaining how he is often the first person snowbirds call when they return to their Florida homes after a long winter break. “A lot of people come back from being up north. They’re not used to having bugs like we have down here, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week year round.”
There is another difference as well.
“We’re a pest ‘control’ company. Up north you call them exterminator, down here you call them pest control. Because up there, there not reproducing year round so you can pretty much exterminate them. Down here, you kind of have to just control them. Some people never see a bug, and other people occasionally see a bug, but you’re never going to completely get rid of them. Down here, it’s all about controlling the pest.”
And, although his company’s logo is “License to Kill,” Nick Libretto is living, breathing proof that some exterminators are committed the local environment. Libretto works with Commissioner Adam Putnam and the Florida Department of Agriculture to regulate and enforce guidelines pertaining to chemical usage which may affect the environment.
“I’m part of a group that works with Tallahassee to set the rules and regulations. We try to do enforcement. Certified Operators of Southwest Florida and the only two other pesticide associations in the state get together in Tallahassee to meet on advising regulations. Sometimes it’s an 8-hour meeting, sometimes it’s a couple of days and we just sit down and find out what are our problems in the industry, how we can address them, how we can correct them, and how we can enforce them, which is the biggest thing,” Libretto said.
“That’s what’s nice about the state – instead of them just making up rules, they like to get in touch with us and let us know what’s really happening out there. They’re basically in offices, we’re basically in the field, so us letting them know what’s happening allows us to work really well together.”
Libretto stated he advises the state using Best Practice Management, which are industry standards based off scientific facts researched by professionals at the University of Florida. Libretto was even part of the Florida Fertilizer Taskforce, which falls under his areas of expertise in licensed chemical usage.
“We set up rules, including how much fertilizer you can put out, how often you can put it out, how far to stay away from water,” he said.
The Florida Fertilizer Task force was in direct response to water releases from lake Okeechobee.
“We probably spent, goodness, 4-5 months working on those regulations to try and get better water quality,” said Libretto.
Despite having a direct hand in the codifying the regulations, Libretto said it put an extra burden on his profession.
“The fertilizer regulations make our lives a little bit more difficult. Any industry you’re always going to have the differences between science and politics. The state followed the science that came out of the UF. Individual cities and counties kind of set up their own rules by how the population reacts to it. So there are some rules in place in different counties that are too strict and, in the long run, it’s actually causing more problems than helping, because they are going by public opinion instead of science,” he said.
Libretto stated his entire regulatory agenda was set up strictly by science.
“It wasn’t just recent research, it’s been research for 10-20 years and followed up with more research. How to use chemical and apply them.”
In fact, the Department of Agriculture with which Libretto worked based the codes in line with Best Practice Management, explaining much of the public has a common misconception about fertilizer run-off and how it affects water quality in Southwest Florida.
“We’re trying to educate people the scientific facts which is it’s not just fertilizer or run-off from chemicals causing red tide, but it’s a cycle that happens and I think it’s more noticed now because the population is bigger here and people see it more often, and go to the beach more often.”
He goes a little deeper into debunking some of the myths surrounding fertilizer and water quality, especially in Cape Coral, which heard an outcry from residents who reported seeing landscapers throwing debris into canals last year.
“When it comes to the politics of it, people are upset about the water quality, so they just want to ban something figuring that’s going to be a solution, where it actually causes more problems. Because when you reduce the amount of fertilizers, your grass gets weaker, and your root system isn’t as good. And when you do fertilize, it ends up washing right off into the water,” he said. “So instead of having good healthy grass, it basically washes right off and goes into the water system.”
Libretto’s statements were consistent with Florida’s agricultural best management practices found on freshfromflorida.com. “Some ordinances cause more problems than good.”
The newest regulations Certified Operators of Southwest Florida will be partnering with the Department of Agriculture will center on preserving bee species, and passing guidelines on the bug to protect the species from unnecessary extermination and promote removing the species unless humans are in danger.
Libretto’s 40 years in the industry has given him a vast experiential background in the pesticide industry, and his knowledge makes him somewhat of a crossbreed between an entomologist (one who studies bugs) a chemist, and somewhat of a regulatory advisor. However, he quoted that “ in my heart, I’m a fireman, but pest control is my business”
ABC Pest Control is all educating fellow pest control professionals.
“There are guys in the industry that don’t believe in change. But as times change and we get more populated we have to adapt. And that’s what we try to do in our business,” Libretto stated.
ABC Pest Control can be reached at 239-574-7900.
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect the proper anniversary of 40 years as well as the name of the organization started by ABC Pest Control founder Ray Libretto.