IBInBusiness Magazine
April, 2013

  • Business Address: 2803 Capitol Drive, Sun Prairie, WI 53590
  • Phone: 608-825-1000
  • Email: dale@wil-kil.com
  • Website: www.wil-kil.com
  • Birthplace: Superior, Wis.
  • Spouse/Partner: Debbie
  • Organizations: Fraternal Order of Free Masonry, Entomological Society of America, National Pest Management Association, Executive Agenda, Wisconsin Pest Control Association, Minnesota Pest Management
  • Education: 43 years’ work experience, college degree, certified entomologist, certified food quality control sanitarian, licensed pesticide applicator

Dale, let’s start at the very beginning to get to know you better. Your very first paycheck: From where, how much, and what did you do with it?

I worked on a farm south of Eau Claire. The $160 check was for the first 80 hours I worked baling hay. Most of it went into the bank for the coming school year and the rest went toward gas to drive and see my future wife.

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Do you read for pleasure?

I enjoying reading but as of late it has basically been limited to books on business.

Have any recommendations?

The last four non-business books I read were Walter Cronkite, A Reporter’s Life; Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation; Tom Brokaw, Boom; and General Norman Schwarzkopf, It Doesn’t Take a Hero.

We really will get to your professional life, but first, let’s stay with the personal. What person or persons in any field, outside of yours, would you most like to be identified with, and why?
Wow, this a tough question! I could probably identify with many individuals who I think inspire others to want to emulate them. The late guitarist and singer Alvin Lee: I would have been on top of the world if I could play lead guitar and sing like he could. I am always spellbound watching him play “I’m Going Home” at Woodstock – simply amazing! And Leo Kottke, simply an incredible musician and storyteller. All you need to do is listen to his first album – yes I said album, six- and 12-string guitar – it says it all!

Do you play guitar?

I play six- and 12-string guitar and recently started to teach myself how to play mandolin.

Ah. Any other heroes?

I would say I identify with Jerry Kramer, the former right guard for the Green Bay Packers. He laid down the perfect block for Bart Starr to run a quarterback sneak and win the Ice Bowl. He never sought glory, credit, or personal fame. His job was to quietly and humbly make others look like heroes. His pleasure was merely in watching others look good and enjoy the limelight as he sat quietly on the sidelines, knowing that he did his job, and he did it to the best of his ability 100% of the time.

Let’s talk secrets and guilty pleasures. Do you have a secret passion for a hobby that people might be surprised to learn about?

In high school, I wanted to start a small engine repair business. Beginning with go-carts and minibikes, I have repaired and rebuilt small engines since the age of 10 – what wasn’t there to love about something so cool? I eventually graduated to working on motorcycles, snowmobiles, and car engines, so it was in my blood by high school.

When you aren’t tinkering, what brings you happiness or relaxation?

I love to spend time with my wife, daughter, and grandsons. I also enjoy carpentry work, electrical work, plumbing as opportunities arise, and anything else I can do for myself or other family members.

Outdoors, I love to hunt white-tailed deer and fish for walleye and bluegills in northern Wisconsin. When I get the opportunity to hunt in other states or go deep-sea fishing in the Gulf or the Pacific, it does not get any better than that!

Play golf? You might have a potential foursome reading this now …

I love to golf but, unfortunately, it does not love me. It is always that one great shot, maybe two or three, that keeps me coming back for more – it is truly a humbling experience, and that is okay.

What is your favorite place to travel and why?

I love to go to the Caribbean, but South Padre, Texas is where we will call home in the not-too-distant future (just for winter). When the Wisconsin hunt is over in November, and the holidays have passed, it will be no more snow for the newly found winter Texans! We will return in the spring to fish the lakes of Wisconsin, and I will be home once again until after the hunt.

Anything you’d care to add about your family?

I have been married to the love of my life, Debbie, for nearly 39 years. She is an incredible, caring person who absolutely ensures our family is the focal point of our daily life.

My daughter, Rian, and her husband, Brian, blessed our family with Brady, 2, and Blake, less than a year old. It is incredible to watch your own children grow into responsible adults and working professionals. To watch grandchildren being nurtured and cared for by loving parents and growing up happy and healthy is simply a blessing beyond measure.

I also love telling old family stories and creating new ones with my sister Gerrie, as well as every opportunity I have to play music with my brother-in-law, Jim. Also, we are a big sports and music family, so it is off to sporting events or music festivals for us!

Okay! But we can’t let you have all that playtime without showing the flip side, too. How long have you been with Copesan, Dale, and what is your day-to-day role in the organization?

I have been with Copesan/Wil-Kil Pest Control for 36 years. In my current role, I am responsible for providing the overall leadership for the entire company, instilling the company vision, and ensuring that our fiscal and long-term business plans and initiatives are met. I basically operate as CEO for the Copesan Operating Companies, an alliance of regional U.S. pest management companies.

That sounds like a mission as well as a job.

Being a head coach for over 200 team members is my passion!

Who has influenced your career the most, and in what way?

It is impossible to single out one person. Simply put, my family, industry leaders, and colleagues. If I had to single out one person, it would be the late Kenneth D. Allen, the general manager for Wil-Kil from 1981 to 1986. Ken was a very motivational leader who both inspired me and instilled a level of confidence that allowed me to take on my first leadership role with the company.

What was a career high point?

I have enjoyed every position I held in my long tenure, but I would have to say the highlight was when I was made an officer of the company. With this came a whole new level of responsibility. It was an honor to be entrusted with that level of responsibility.

What is a long-range goal that you’d like to achieve before leaving your company?

I would like to continue growing the operating companies to provide greater opportunity for our team members. One of these goals is to have our day-to-day operation offices in company-owned buildings within the next five years. In addition, to ensure that our long-term plan is solid, to include a succession plan that provides for strong leadership, tradition, and company culture.

Thanks for all of your answers today, as we’ve come to the last one, which is how we always like to close out this profile section. Can you offer three words, and three only, which you think best describe you?

Driven, inspirational, and caring.