State has ground for mosquito franchise

Kevin Wilson knows where his business can make important inroads in expansion, and Mississippi is a fertile land for his next franchise.

Wilson is chief executive officer of Mosquito Joe, which provides mosquito control treatment to residential and commercial customers nationwide. The Virginia Beach, Va.-based company will have 230 locations open in 30 states during the upcoming season.

However, Wilson is still looking to locate his first franchise in Mississippi.

“Mississippi is interesting to us because it seems like a market that would love our services that we would provide,” he said. “I think it is just a matter of our finding the right person to open it up. We’ve got people south of Mississippi in Slidell (La.) and along the Gulf Coast. We’ve got people northeast of Mississippi in Birmingham, Ala.; north of Mississippi in Memphis and all over Texas; Texas is almost sold out.”

Still, Mississippi has no Mosquito Joe.

“It’s weird, but we don’t have anything in Mississippi at all,” Wilson said. “We are really just looking for the right candidate. There is an opportunity out there for anyone interested in trying it.”

Like the other southern states that have Mosquito Joe franchises, Wilson knows that Mississippi has its share of mosquito problems because with mosquitoes come health issues.

“It absolutely has become more of a health problem recently with West Nile virus, Zika and there are a number of diseases that mosquitoes carry,” he said. “A lot of people feel like Zika was one of these things that just happened last year; that’s just not now these diseases work. Mosquitoes go dormant for a while over the season and then they come back. West Nile came to the United States about 15 years ago and it has been here every single year since. It’s not going anywhere.”

Wilson said his company takes a two-pronged attack to fight the mosquitoes – by the homeowner and by Mosquito Joe.

“What we do is when we come to a property, the first thing we do is walk the property with the owner,” he said. “We do a little survey and then we talk to them about what they can do and what we can do. What they can do is keep their gutters clean, keep standing water diminished and rinse out toys if it rains.

“What we can do is we can put down some granules or dunks that help a lot if there is standing water. The cornerstone of what we do is to put out a perimeter spray, where we spray a material that adheres to the leaves and other things. It dries in about 30 minutes. Whenever mosquitoes come and touch or rest during the day and touch the leaves, it knocks then down. The heat breaks that down, so we come back every 21 days. It’s a combination of a joint effort, but it’s really effective.”

Mosquito Joe franchises cover a great deal of the United States.

“We have been around about five years, our franchises are doing well and our customers really enjoy the service,” he said. “Our franchises are largely in the South and East. We are as far west as Colorado and as far north as Minnesota. Most of our locations in the South are already open in Texas, Florida and along the Gulf Coast. We’re even open here in Virginia. By April 15, we will be pretty much open everywhere.”

Wilson said the company supports its franchises with marketing and operations.

“We have all of the training,” he said. “It takes about $85,000 for someone to open up a location. We do all of the training here in our corporate office in Virginia Beach. It’s both in the field and in the classroom.”

For Mosquito Joe, the success of the company is in the quality, Wilson said.

“What most people talk about is the quality of our brand,” he said. “The brand really resonates with people and they understand what we are trying to do. This is something that I think would be a service that would be valued by the residents of Hattiesburg and around Mississippi.”