Russell Booth is a rare find in Cary; he’s lived here all of his 91 years.
He and Marjorie, his wife of 67 years, have lived on their property for nearly as long.
“I paid $200 for the lot,” Booth said. “I would go to work and come home and lay two or three blocks.”
The house he built in the country is now surrounded by development.
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But some things haven’t changed. The couple still work a large garden out back each summer, planting enough vegetables to share with their neighbors.
And 50 years after Booth and his brother Lewis launched Booth Exterminating Co., Booth and his business are still going strong.
“I did a house this morning,” he said.
The company started in 1966 after they had put time in with other companies.
“We worked half a day on a Saturday morning and went into business for ourselves that afternoon,” Booth said. “The first week, we brought in $1,200. Lewis sold some termite jobs. He was the salesman.
“We did real good. We had to. We went into debt. My brother bought a car and I got a used station wagon.”
He credits their success to hard work and being straightforward with customers.
“Customers like to be on time,” he said. “We realized that people had things to do, so we try to do our best to be on time.”
When Lewis Booth died in 1971, Russell took over the business. It has remained in the family ever since. Booth’s son-in-law Brack Lee joined in the 1980s, and his granddaughter and her husband, Jennifer and Tony Crowell, came on board more recently.
“It’s a hard job,” Booth quips of working with family. Then he relents. “We always got along good together. We understand each other.”
Lee acknowledges there are challenges.
“It’s hard to get out to work because Russell wants to talk a lot,” he says.
But Tony Crowell adds, “It’s his talking that keeps the business going.”
Word of mouth is key, Jennifer Crowell said.
“A lot of people who grew up with Russell, we have third-generation customers now,” she said.
With the passage of years have come differences in the way the business operates.
“Pesticide rules and regulations have changed,” Booth said. “We don’t treat like we once did. In some cases it’s easier, but you have to be so careful with pesticides not to contaminate streams and water.”
Although pesticides are safer now, the family says there are still judgment calls to be made.
“Customers will tell us to spray everything when the floor is covered with toys,” Tony said. “You have to know when to pass.”
Booth says while the foundation of Booth Exterminating is customer service, each new generation of the Booth family has introduced changes. He points to Lee and exclaims, “He bought a computer!”
Technology is clearly not Booth’s concern.
“Someone asked if they could email me, and I asked if they could do that with rabbit ears,” he said.
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About Booth Exterminating Co.
Location: 8360 Chapel Hill Road, Cary
Contact: 919-481-4741, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday
Special: The company is offering a $50 treatment in honor of its 50 years in business.