A common misconception about Advanced Services is that it is somehow a legacy company of Annis Pest Control. While there is an evident family connection, no corporate link exists between the two companies.
After World War II, my father, Larry Annis, finished his education at the University of Georgia, where he obtained a degree in chemistry, and he fell in love with entomology. Dad subsequently worked as a chemist for Buckeye Chemicals in Augusta, Ga., before deciding to take a leap and opening his own pest control company.
My mother, Betty “BJ” Annis, and father ran the ultimate “mom and pop” pest control company. Dad began Annis Pest Control in 1954, doing one service at a time, and he ran the office in a shed behind his mother-in-law’s house. Six years later, he was able to build a small office, in which he remained for 14 years. In 1974, Annis Pest Control was able to move to a much larger office, where it remained for the rest of its existence.
Between 1954 and 1974, Dad operated the company with the help of my mother, who joined the company about 1959. The roles and responsibilities were clear: Dad worked in the field, did technical work, made sales, attended civic club meetings and was the outside face of the company. Mom managed the administrative and financial aspects. As the company grew, a full-time office professional was hired.
When the Structural Pest Control Act was enacted, Dad was appointed to the first Georgia Structural Pest Control Commission by Georgia Gov. Ernest Vandiver. The three pest control operators on the commission drew lots to see who would receive the first three license numbers, and Dad drew No. 3. Once my mother obtained her certification, she received license No. 216. Larry Annis was an active member of the industry and served as the president of the Georgia Pest Control Association twice. BJ Annis served as a GPCA board member, representing the Augusta area for more than 10 years.
In November 1973, my parents divorced, and my mother bought Dad out of the company. My father intended to start from scratch with a new company called Ladybug Pest Control. In November 1974, on the day the divorce was finalized and the business transaction took place, Larry Annis remarried, and four hours later he died of a heart attack at the age of 53.
In the post-Larry years between 1974 and 1985, my mother did the best she could to operate the company. She did well, but the business was not growing or operating the same without the entrepreneurial leadership and business acumen that my father had provided. Finally, in 1985, Annis Pest Control was sold to Michael Tomberlin and Bob Shelnut, and it ran under the name of Safco Pest Service until it was sold to Waste Management a few years later.
I worked for the new owners for about a year. During that time, Mike Tomberlin mentored me in pest control business management. Mike had previously worked in a national company, in which he was a highly successful sales person, branch manager, sales manager and regional sales manager. Without his expertise and training, I would not have advanced to where I am today.
My contribution to the new owners was my relationship with customers and staff, who were still adapting to the new leaders and culture. Eventually, I departed the company, and after a few road blocks, I was finally free to work in another local company.
In March 1986, Frank Damiano, a lifelong friend of the family and former Annis Pest Control employee, began Advanced Services as a part-time endeavor. It was his dream to take what he learned at Annis Pest Control and expand that into a respectable business over time. In September of 1986, free from legal ramifications lingering from the Annis Pest Control sale, I began working for Frank. Over time, I bought my way into an ownership position. In April 1998, Frank decided to sell his stock to me and left the company, although he remains a close family friend.