The Star
Jake Kurtz
September 15, 2014

Wil-Kil Pest Control may be an industry leader serving thousands of clients across the upper Midwest, but it still has plenty of small town hospitality and accessibility. And those qualities are evident in the fact that Wil-Kil this month celebrates its 90th year in business.

The company’s humble beginning dates back to 1924 when Irwin Klein opened a small service center with a handful of employees in Milwaukee. Klein eventually sold the company to Henry Turrie, who is credited as the “founding father” of Wil-Kil.

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Under Turrie’s guidance, Wil-Kil experienced tremendous growth throughout the 1950’s and swelled to become a regional company currently ranked as the 38th largest in the nation according to the trade publication Pest Control Technology.

Today, Wil-Kil is based out of Sun Prairie and stands as the largest Wisconsin pest management firm. The company boasts more than 150 employees, four service centers and the ability to serve clients across a six-state area.

“It was Henry Turrie’s vision to establish Wil-Kil as the quality leader in pest management – and it is because of this vision that we are now recognized as the Upper Midwest’s quality leader in pest management,” said Dale Bauerkemper, Wil-Kil vice president and general manager.

“When we reflect on 90 years of service, we realize just how far we’ve progressed, both as a company and as an industry entrusted with protecting homes, businesses and reputations.”

Bauerkemper added that Wil-Kil plans to celebrate its nine decades of work throughout September and will pay “special recognition to our outstanding team of employees who will lead Wil-Kil to future growth and success.”

Among the key reasons cited for Wil-Kil’s longevity is the company’s ability to adapt to industry changes and quickly adopt new technology and ways to pound out pests.

One example is that back in 2009 it became the first in Wisconsin to hire a bed bug scent detection dog.

And this year, Wil-Kil began offering an electronic logbook that allows customers real-time access and updates about their issues.

“We pride ourselves on leadership and offering cutting-edge pest control methods,” said Shane McCoy, director of quality and technical training. “Whether it’s a new type of equipment or product, we’re always communicating with the manufacturers and try to use the latest techniques and tools to put our staff at the forefront of this industry.”

Many people often hear about pest control providers and instantly assume that all these individuals do is spray chemicals and check traps. But McCoy said that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“You don’t make it to 90 years by just doing a few things and simply serving accounts,” McCoy remarked. “We try to educate people and show them how to be preventative so they don’t have to give us a call with a problem later on.”

Among those education offerings is Wil-Kil’s “Bed Bug Boot Camps” for businesses, which have reached more than 1,000 attendees.

Wil-Kil staffers also know that the service they provide can truly protect a business’s brand. McCoy used the example of a restaurant or hotel and how quickly its reputation could decline if pests problems persist.

“With social media and online reviews, a reputation can really be damaged quickly if people see a pest there,” McCoy said. “We see how that client’s brand can be damaged by a pest issue and we take it serious to protect that.”

Area residents can also stroll into Wil-Kil’s Sun Prairie office at 2803 Capital Dr. with any pest questions or concerns and expect to receive a quick answer from the likes of McCoy or other staffers.

“We do have people that send us pictures or physically bring us the specimen,” McCoy added.

“People come in with something that they found in a bedroom or bathroom and it’s nice that the community knows we have experts here who are readily available and can help them out.”