Relieving distress by controlling pests
John Murden of Arafura Pest Control in Darwin appreciates that his use of Termidor HE, the high-efficiency formulation of the world’s leading termiticide, can mean much more to his customers than just a convenient solution to a practical problem.
“It’s nice to be able to allay fears,” he says.
Looking back decades, John remembers how challenging he found his introduction to pest control. “When I first started out, I nearly gave it up. But then I got a call from an old lady who had termites in her roof and she cried because she was so scared for her house. That spurred me on a bit. People's homes are the number one asset in their lives, and we've saved hundreds since then.”
One of the early jobs Arafura did with Termidor HE typifies the scale of termite pressure and homeowners’ anxiety in the Top End.
“The lady saw some mud on a step inside the house, scraped it aside and there's a giant mastotermes sixteen millimetres long poking its head out of the mud in the middle of the house! They had a beautiful big patio, meshed in, that was really their living area – a lot of people up here live half outdoors. She was so stressed she was crying. But we did the whole treatment without cracking a tile. It was a beautiful job. It's those ones that make the job rewarding.”
Even customers who aren’t worried that the house may be destroyed can be stressed about the possible damage termite treatment will do. That’s where using the Termidor HE formulation is a huge advantage.
“Customers do notice the difference,” John says. “We did a unit in a complex and the guy was a tiler. He had put down 400 beautiful tiles. We were able to put all the drill holes in the grout. He was very pleased and relieved because the tiles were so expensive.”
Shortly afterwards the Arafura team did another job involving a similar number of tiles over an area that included a step down to a lower level. Getting the business involved an unusual long-distance sell-in to show what Termidor HE can do. “It’s an investment property and the owners live in the UK,” John explains. “We won the job because we sent them the Termidor HE video with the quote and showed them there’d be no damage.”
Not that protecting tiles is the only benefit Termidor offers. “Our first big HE job was on Croker Island,” says John. “We put a trailer on a barge and flew across for three days. It was a big drill-and-inject around a school with termite problems. The HE worked really well and drilling the holes at 400 mills definitely saved us a lot of time. We’ve been using it ever since.
John’s been in the Northern Territory for thirty years. He moved from Katherine to Darwin and in 2006 and started Arafura Pest Control on January 1, 2011. It began as a one-man operation, then John’s son came on board and there are now four technicians on the team.
“Darwin has pest problems twelve months of the year,” John says. “With so much pest pressure, it’s a very competitive market.”
Throughout the company’s nine-year history they’ve been using BASF products and John continues to use the original Termidor formulation for yard and plantation work. “We’ll never stop using Termidor for drilling trees and treating nests directly in mango plantations. The giant ‘masto’ termites love the mango trees. There’s one plantation we cleaned up I drive past all the time and it's still flourishing.”
When it comes to homes, though, Arafura quickly switched to using Termidor HE almost exclusively. “We virtually only use Termidor HE now,” says John. “It comes down to the way it looks afterwards really. It’s such a good product. It makes our customers more comfortable.”
John says that around thirty-five per cent of Arafura Pest Control’s business comes from satisfied customers recommending them to their friends, which is very valuable in such a crowded market. Initially Arafura was one of only two companies in Darwin using the Termidor HE formulation, but a lot of local businesses have now made the switch. In some cases that follows a recommendation of John’s own. He’s been happy to share his experience with other pest controllers and encourage them to try Termidor HE for themselves. As John points out, Darwin has a very big termite problem and people’s most valuable assets deserve the best protection they can get.
“We know the product works and works well,” he says. “We’ve found it extremely successful.”