Bukky Soleye, Founder of Bug Zappers Limited, a professional pest control services company has set a standard in the Pest Management Industry. Her Company was borne out of the need to instill professionalism into the pest control industry in Nigeria. The business has been in existence since 2009 and came at a time when most technicians applying pesticides at the time lacked formal training in pest control and often abused the administration of pesticides which constitutes a risk to human health and the environment.
Bukky Soleye graduated with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from Federal University of
Technology, Akure and obtained a combined master’s degree in Business Administration and
Management Information Systems from Southeastern University, Washington DC, USA. She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). She started her career at Arthur Andersen as a Business Consultant in 1998. Subsequently, she worked with T.Rowe Price, a fortune 500 Company in Maryland USA, as a Business Analyst and Constellation Energy, also in Maryland USA, as a Senior Business Analyst/Project Manager.
In 2008, she enrolled and was certified by the Ontario Pesticide and Training Certification
Program in Ontario, Canada and qualified as a Pest Management Professional with two
specialist certifications in Structural Pest Control and Fumigation.
Bug Zappers is one of the leading Pest Management companies in Nigeria and has achieved an impressive track record particularly in hospitality, oil and gas, food processing,
manufacturing industries to mention a few.
She is a committed member of the Pest Control Association of Nigeria and the National Pest
Management Association, USA.
She has attended many local and international conferences on Pest management.
She is also a Business Coach, she runs a platform on Instagram, @Service_Prenuer, to
provide business nuggets and coach service businesses to build strong systems to scale their businesses.
In this interview with Oyinlola Sale, Bukky Soleye, Founder of Bug Zappers Limited explains how she transformed the pest management industry in Nigeria as a Leader in that sector.
Bug Zappers is one of the leading Pest Management companies in Nigeria and has achieved
an impressive track record particularly in hospitality, oil and gas, food processing and
manufacturing industries. Now, tell us how did you set that standard in the Pest Management Industry in Nigeria?
Our journey to becoming one of the leading Pest Management companies in Nigeria was very intentional. At the time we started operations, there were very few professional pest control companies in Nigeria. The industry was inundated with operators who had no formal training in pest management.
Considering I was coming from a totally different background, being a graduate of Computer Science, I enrolled for a formal pest management program in Ontario, Canada to get industry knowledge and passed the certification exams to qualify as a Pest Management Professional.
Our benchmark at Bug Zappers has always been the global industry standard so we always use the right chemicals considered environmentally safe and equipment that you can find in other climes. We also invested in getting our technicians educated and exposed to global standards in pest management. This enabled us to work with many multinationals in hospitality, manufacturing, and oil & gas sectors.
Our focus has always been to deliver safe and effective service, without compromise. We believe a culture of service excellence is the best way to set ourselves apart in the industry and it worked for us. Our growth has been organic, and we got many of our clients through referrals and word of mouth. Our customer retention rate is remarkably high. We do our best to ensure we treat our clients well and take care of their pest problems, so we will not lose them. There were many successes and failures along the way.
In what way has Covid-19 changed the mode of operation in your Organisation?
Pest Control has always been a safety conscious industry, so we are conversant with safety measures. Pre-Covid, our technicians work respirators, gloves and sometimes coveralls when handling pesticides, so nothing much has changed regarding that.
Post-Covid, we added disinfection and decontamination services to our offerings in response to the pandemic. We are happy to be able to contribute to keeping people and businesses safe.
As part of our CSR, we rendered free disinfection services to some government offices.
What are some of the challenges you have faced so far in building your Company?
The major challenge we face in the industry lies in the fact that almost all the products we use for pest control and disinfection are sourced from abroad, they are not produced locally. Even the few that are available locally are still imported from abroad. So, our costs are subject to fluctuations in foreign exchange.
The other challenge has to do with multiple government regulatory fees for permits. To operate as a pest control company in Nigeria, you will need a permit from the Federal government, another from the state government and then from each local govt in which you have clients. This can be very frustrating, particularly because the fees are not standardised.
How did you manage to finance this business, in its early days?
I was lucky to have family and friends who believed and were willing to invest in me and my business at the beginning. As we continued to expand, we were able to obtain loans from banks to finance vehicles and generators.
Compare and Contrast the pest management industry abroad and in Nigeria, where do we need to bridge the gap?
There is a lot of room for improvement when we compare the pest control industry in Nigeria to what obtains in more developed countries. The industry is highly regulated in those countries and you will need to demonstrate you have the requisite knowledge and take an exam before you can be licensed to handle pesticides commercially. That does not happen here. You only need to register your business and pay the fees for the necessary government permits to be in business in Nigeria.
What were some of your fears when setting up?
I guess the general fear every entrepreneur has, wondering if the business will be sustainable and people will use our services. However, that fear was quickly allayed because we got our first commercial account the same month, we started operations and the client is still with us today.
Bug Zappers Limited and how did you gradually overcome your fears?
Once we signed our first commercial contract, that fear disappeared. When we started, we focused on businesses that understand the value pest management brings to their customer experience and brand reputation, particularly the hotels. We went on to sign commercial contracts with other multinationals and that confirmed we were on the right path.
As a Business Coach, tell us how you mentor entrepreneurs in a country like Nigeria where the economy is not stable?
I recently started out as a business coach to share business tips and my experiences with other business owners to help them grow their businesses. There is a lot that I wish I knew when I started so I am hoping I can pass the knowledge to other people. As business owners, we must constantly look inwards to see how we can manage costs to remain profitable.
How can the Government create an enabling environment for businesses like yours to thrive?
For businesses to thrive in Nigeria, we need the government to eliminate multiple taxes and fees. It is unbelievable how many permits we must obtain for each of our vehicles every year. We also need the right infrastructure in place. We spend heavily on diesel.
What is your growth projection for Bug Zappers Limited in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years, we are projecting to double our revenue and add more services to our current offerings. Last year we added disinfection services and this year, we have added cleaning services. We are hoping to use cross selling to grow the business by offering multiple services to our customers.
A young Female Entrepreneur is thinking of following your footsteps, what advice would you give to her?
I would tell her to forge ahead. If I can do it, in a male dominated industry, so can she. A right team and putting structure around the business is necessary for growth. There is no easy path to success. If she is focused and ready to put in the work, anything is achievable. Without hard work and discipline, no one can get to the top.