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Interview with John Knight – World Pest Day 2023

June 06, 2023

In recognition of World Pest Day 2023, we had the pleasure of interviewing John Knight, an experienced professional in the pest management industry and currently General Manager at Vergo Pest Management.

John Knight

5 Minutes with John Knight

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.

I love adrenaline-fueled and full-on activities. I have been bungee jumping, sky diving, paintballing, and even sparred with Carl the Cat Thompson, the IBO and WBO cruiserweight champion, which was an experience. This is seen as unusual in my family because everyone else is the opposite and thinks I’m strange! Outside of work, you’ll find me in the gym. I love to exercise of any kind, and this takes up most of my time, keeps me out of trouble, and gives everyone some peace, so everyone’s a winner!

When did you start your career in the pest industry? And what were you doing before?

I started my journey in pest control and my time with the business in May 2013 and have just had my 10th work anniversary; this was after time spent in public services, which seems forever ago and a lengthy period working within the criminal justice system.

What made you decide to choose a career in pest control?

The honest answer is I fell into it, I was progressing with my career at the time, but privatisation of the sector was looming. I knew some people who worked within the industry who had told me a lot about the job, role and business, and it sounded different and interesting. I knew that I wanted a promising career with prospects and development opportunities. After a lengthy conversation and an interview with Fred, who is still my line manager, it sounded like this was the way for me to achieve this.

Tell us about your journey since joining Vergo

I started as a pest control technician in training on May 13th 2013, and I loved the variety and flexibility of the role; literally, no two jobs are the same! I started as a pest technician in training and eventually gained my RSPH2, then completed my Accredited level 3 and progressed to be a service support technician for our team; then I took on the role of escalation manager, which is a role I helped put together and develop with my peers and managed to gain my certified field biologists’ qualification. After this, I successfully became a service manager for the Manchester team before moving into the role of area manager for the northwest region. Recently I was promoted to my new role as a General Manager.

We were MITIE pest control when I started my career, and we have been through many changes over time, seeing some real ups and downs, but all have turned out very positively to lead us to where we are today. If I missed one thing the most from other roles, it would be the problem-solving aspect of being a field-based technician and escalation manager. I love taking buildings apart in my head and then applying this to the task at hand to find the root cause and provide the solution to problems.

Why is it important we celebrate World Pest Day?

World pest day is massively important as it raises awareness about the invaluable work delivered by pest professionals everywhere who work hard to combat public health problems across the world which is to be celebrated. It also recognises the work being delivered by the front-line technical professionals in the field.

Who inspires you in the pest industry?

It’s not a cop, I promise, but I would have to say my whole team on this, the work they have delivered since I have taken over as their line manager has truly been inspiring, they are true professionals providing exceptional service in sometimes very challenging circumstances and they are fantastic!

What is your favourite pest?

I like challenging pests, and one of my favourites is the cockroach! It takes good knowledge and a robust approach to tackle a high level of infestation using various methods, and I have always liked these treatments, plus they can live for a week with no head and only die in the end from thirst because of this, which I always found bizarre but interesting.

What does a typical day consist of in your role as General Manager?

Each day and even each minute is so fast-paced you can’t give a typical response; one minute, I could be training or presenting to my team; the next, I could be in meetings with customers, amongst other tasks and can be in the office or off to the other end of the Northwest dependent on what is going on at the time. I think the main thing that is typical in my role, no matter what I am doing, is driving a positive message about what we are delivering to all the relevant people in each task I complete to show people that success and achieving your goals are a choice that we all can reach, hopefully spreading a positive vibe and getting a few smiles and laughs along the way.

What aspects of your job do you find the most rewarding?

I like giving people opportunities, praise, and positive feedback when it’s deserved; you can’t beat the feeling that you have brightened up someone’s day, especially when employing new starters. That’s awesome!

What training have you done during your time in pest? Is there any additional training you’d like to complete?

I have done loads, some of which I mentioned earlier – RSPH 2, Accredited level 3, certified field biologist and many other management courses related to my role. I am always on the lookout for anything interesting to further my development. I think we start to become complacent if we don’t challenge ourselves.

What would you see yourself doing if you didn’t work in the pest industry?

If I hadn’t started here, I possibly would have gone back to college to look at being a fitness instructor.

What message would you give to someone considering a career in the pet industry?

Make it a solid option, gather information, and speak with loads of people doing the job; pest management is so rewarding if you choose the right way to go about it, and it can be an incredible career and very beneficial. It definitely has been for me.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Always be honest and straight with people, and it builds trust and mutual respect even if the message is sometimes hard to hear. My dad used to say this, and it has always served me well.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I don’t know right now, but I have no self-limiting beliefs. In many ways, the future is uncertain for us all, but success is a choice, so the sky is the limit in my eyes, and I hope this never changes.

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