( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Robiar Smith Seeks To Add Diversity In Pest Control
ENSPIRE Contributor: Naomi Stamps
When faced with eviction, mother and entrepreneur Robiar Smith, took charge and founded black-owned business R.B. Pest Solutions. As a child, she watched her father wrap his spray tank and go out to jobs to assist those with pest problems. Inspired by her father’s passion for helping others to live in comfortable conditions, Robiar Smith implemented that same mentality in her own work ethic. While this line of work is male-dominated, this entrepreneur hasn’t let that stop her from changing the narrative.
Robiar Smith has two master’s degrees and has previously worked as a college professor and IT professional. She says that she comes from 40 years of pest control experience and is proud to continue the family business. Robiar Smith is dedicated to including more women in the pest control industry and actively teaches them about starting their own businesses. Besides being the CEO of R.B Pest Solutions, she successfully developed the very first Chicago chapter Professional Women In Pest Control Management organization. Robiar Smith is a hard-working entrepreneur who shows us that gender doesn’t determine one’s capability of succeeding in career fields lacking diversity.
Since exterminators are essential workers, this entrepreneur didn’t allow the pandemic to stop her from helping customers in need of assistance. Because of COVID-19 restrictions had to improvise the way she offered services. Robiar Smith and her team transferred their focus to the parameter and exterior work to lower the levels of insects in the home until they could offer more permanent methods. Besides giving treatments to treat pest infestations, this entrepreneur educates customers on the causes and ways to prevent future issues.
ENSPIRE spoke with Robiar about her business and how she’s helping women to succeed.
When you started your own business, what made you choose to pursue the route your father took?
In the Pest Control Industry, he’s such a pioneer and passionate about solving the pest problems our community face. Watching someone with a great deal of passion is inspiring and contagious. He knew my capabilities and what I could contribute to the industry. I’m glad I took the leap! I love what I do!
To be in this line of work, you must have a high tolerance for dealing with bugs and other critters. How did you come to not have a fear of insects?
As a pest control, our job is to make sure our customers feel at ease when we show up. Like a superhero 🙂 We show up to save the day! With this perspective, my team and I show up every day with our superhero capes ready to give our customers a WOW experience. We manage the pest involved and solve our customers’ problems safely and efficiently.
We have a responsibility to the pest involved as well. This helps keep the balance with the environment so we don’t tamper with the ecosystem. For example, spiders can be a nuisance however, they’re natural exterminators and help with the environment. Instead of being afraid, we must effectively manage the environment so we all can co-exist.
When you first started your business, what was the biggest challenge you faced, and how did you tackle it?
It was challenging getting customers and accounts to adapt to the fresh, innovative approach we’re trying to achieve. We’re woman-owned, our staff is full of young leaders and we’re not contract-driven. If customers aren’t satisfied with services, they can cancel at any time! R.B. Pest Solutions team does not look like your typical pest control expert. We’re young and vibrant and looking to add an innovative look and approach to pest control. We’re here to give the pest industry a facelift.
What steps did you have to take to get into the pest control business?
Contact your local Department of Public Health and gather information such as; study material, location times, and dates to take the test. Once passed, spread the word you’re in business and provide excellent pest results!
Tell us one favorite aspect and one least favorite aspect about your line of work.
I love being in the field with my technicians and hearing from my customers. Half the time, they don’t know my role in the company so this gives me the opportunity to test out new treatments and products. Also, listen to our customers and build stronger relationships with my team. My least favorite part of the job is when I come into contact with the elderly and families that live in hazardous environments. When I encounter highly infested pest conditions, my team doesn’t rest until the pest is gone.
How do you feel women can have a different impact in the pest control field?
First, women add an extra layer of magic with everything we do! 🙂 Regarding pest control, we add an element of nurturing and facilitation that can only come from a woman that understands the importance of delivering results but with a touch of care and understanding for clients and staff in this field. WOMEN ROCK!
How are you teaching other women about starting a business and breaking into the pest control field?
There’s a wonderful organization National Pest Management Association that has a space for women who would like to get more involved in the pest industry. As a result, The Professional Women of Pest Management has assisted me with creating an Illinois Chapter and it’s been phenomenal! Women from all over get a chance to connect, share stories and learn about various topics centered around pest control.
Unfortunately, many women today still encounter gender discrimination and lower rates of pay compared to their male counterparts (especially women of color). They have to prove themselves in order to advance in their careers along with providing for themselves and their families. Robiar Smith shows how women shouldn’t fear taking bold steps in order to move forward. Her story is an example of how we should invest in ourselves and share our knowledge with others. Some women view each other as competition and withhold information. Robiar Smith is happy to share her knowledge with other women in order to see a change in the pest control industry. In order for us to excel, we must work together.
Learn more about R.B. Pest Solutions here.
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