As a part of the Morning Lazziness series about strong women leaders who attained success with their incredible ideas, I had the pleasure of interviewing Robiar Smith.
Robiar Smith, the owner of R.B. Pest Solutions. It is a locally-owned business that services commercial and residential properties helping them get rid of bedbugs, termites, rodents, and general pests. Today, with her father’s old school approach and her new school techniques, to R.B. Pest Solutions– makes it a perfect match made in heaven.
“Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Robiar Smith, was driven from a very young age. Growing up the importance of education and an upstanding work ethic were woven into her. Robiar Smith’s interest in pest control was first sparked as a child where she would tag along with her father. It was her father’s dreams that R.B. Pest Solutions came to fruition. After going on to earn two master’s degrees and finding success as both a college professor and IT professional, Robi left her career behind and set out to carry on her father’s legacy as CEO of R.B. Pest Solutions. In her spare time, Robi serves as a mentor through her non-profit organization, J.U.S.T. (Just Us Sisters Talking). You will also find her hard at work striving to create economic development opportunities for both her family and community.”
Tell us about your inspiring journey?
Well, I’m a former IT professional and Professor. I used to teach many of my students how to start and scale their businesses. We’re a family-owned business and our founder ‘Michael Benton’ (my father) has been in the pest control industry for over 41 years.
The company has its MBE, WBW, DBE, and ACDBE certifications with the City of Chicago and Cook County. We’re growing and all of our employees are residents of the city of Chicago within the inner city and we’re giving pest control a facelift with our innovative approach to pest control!
What made you start the Pest Solutions Company? A female in the pest control industry is unusual.
My Dad has been an Exterminator all my life and it was his idea to open a family pest control company. He’s the heartbeat is our organization and train all new hires on how to properly exterminate.
Being a woman entrepreneur do you face any challenges in the Pest Company? As it has always seemed to be a male-dominant department?
I love the support I receive from people when I put on my PPE gear, knee pads, and pull out my flashlight then start a pest control inspection or job. They’re amazed and shocked to see a woman getting rid of insects bedbugs, mice, termites and etc. While it is exciting to them, it’s still a question of whether I can indeed carry out the job like my fellow male exterminators or can I run a successful pest control company like my male counterparts. It’s a daily challenge I face and don’t take personally.
How do your family support The Pest Solutions’ Company’s idea of yours?
It was only love and support from the start from the family. Several of the businesses we service are personal friends and even family. They refer us and root for us to continue to be a vital part of the community.
How do you feel like being your own boss?
I tell my team all the time; they don’t work for me, I work for them! I truly it’s my responsibility to take the vision that’s been placed upon me and gather other talented leaders to assist me with achieving this goal. This task isn’t always easy! It’s the hardest and the most rewarding role ever! I think people glamorize the journey and it’s far from being pretty! It’s consists of long hours, hard work, and some knockdowns I wasn’t prepared for but it’s building great character!
So, from the start, you knew you want to start a Pest Solutions Company, or did you have another dream or goal?
I believe pest control choose me. Pest control has been in my family for over 41 years. In my professional and academic career, I acquired many skill sets with the mindset of using them to further my employer and clients’ professional endeavors. Four years ago, I decided to bet on myself and pour all my skills into my family’s pest control trade to build a legacy business. I started R.B. Pest Solutions four years ago and haven’t looked back!
What aspiring piece of advice would you like to give to other women entrepreneurs, so they don’t become deflected from their aims.
Don’t waste another second on doubt and fear. Just get started and all your questions will work themselves out along the way! Just leap and create your vision brick by brick. Remember keep God first.
For Entrepreneurs, keeping themselves fit and healthy is a tough task, so how do you manage to stay healthy?
My Daughter Amari, makes sure our family incorporates yoga and stretching on a weekly basis to make sure we’re exercising! Also, I’ve learned to put my phone down at a certain time every day and get the proper rest I need!
Who’s your biggest inspiration? Why?
My Husband, Daughters, Parents, family, and friends, who allow me to wear this entrepreneur hat with their full love and support. My tribe is everything to me.
At last! Where do you see yourself in the next ten years? I am incredibly grateful for the growth and sustainability we have been able to maintain at my company.
In the next ten years, we project to have more locations, new products/ services in every neighborhood for customers to have quality pest control services, and retail stores right in their own communities.
I hope to be a gamechanger to inspire more women to get into the industry and know they can be successful!