Elgin Courier-News: McCloud Services Celebrates 110 Years of Innovation and Family


CEO Chris McCloud was interviewed by the Elgin Courier-News about the company’s 110th anniversary as well as receiving the 2014 Century Award from The Family Business Center at Loyola University Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business.  To view the full article, click here.



McCloud Services celebrates 110 years of innovation and family

Occasionally, he glanced at the tiny piece of paper in his hands, with such terms highlighted as innovation, vision and commitment, to help him explain how a company with early twentieth century roots sustains its path on a trailblazing journey. The business survived two world wars, a depression, recessions, and, when you include a short stint by his nephews, five generations of involvement.

McCloud is a fourth-generation owner and CEO of McCloud Services, a commercial pest management company with headquarters at 1635 North Lancaster Road in South Elgin. The business, which has 180 employees on its staff, protects much of the nation’s food supply from insects and rodents, and also tends to clients in the healthcare, hospitality and retail industries.

McCloud recently received the “2014 Century Award” for multiple generations of ownership, as well as innovation and leadership in the pest management industry, at the “21st Annual Family Business of the Year Awards” sponsored by The Family Business Center at Loyola University Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business.

It was at The Center that McCloud learned to let the next generation build self-esteem and credibility outside of the business. “If they come back,” he said, “They bring new ideas and outside thinking with them.”

During his talk, he thought about the hard work contributed by each family member who preceded him. He felt a strong connection to them, even the grandfathers he never met, because they all share the experience of running the business: his great grandpa William Bailey, who, after identifying the need to protect from flees and other insects the sheep, livestock, and cattle in Chicago’s stockyards, founded the company in 1904 as a supplier of pest control products; his Grandpa Walter, who had a vision for the business to become “the Cadillac of the industry” by not only selling products to customers but also applying those products for them. Walter brought prestige to pest control businesses everywhere by helping launch local and national industry associations; his father Tom, who grew the firm through acquisition of 42 companies. By joining a cooperative of pest management firms, Tom also expanded McCloud’s reach nationwide; and his brother Phil, who always tried new ways to reinvent and grow the business.

“The pest control industry is like black licorice, not everyone likes it as a career,” McCloud said. “But those who like it, really, really like it. When you think about it, what’s not to love about protecting people’s food and property?”

An integrative approach to pest management led to McCloud’s reputation as problem solvers, because the company puts more emphasis on pest prevention, sanitation and the structural environment, than it does on the application of pesticides. “As our customers ask us for a more environmentally sustainable program, it’s natural for us, because that’s what we’ve been strategizing for several generations, responsible use of chemical applications.”

Like everyone else in his family, McCloud, 48, had some exposure to the business while he was growing up, to help him decide if he wanted to pursue it. With his brother and father for mentors, he started as a teenager by building mousetraps. Seasonal work in termite control followed. After college, he was a technician, and held positions in customer service and sales, before discovering his passion for operations.

“I like making things work and serving customers,” he said. “Besides, if I’m going to have a jerk for a boss, it might as well be me.”

McCloud has a teenage daughter and son whom, as of yet, don’t plan to pursue the business. But that could change. His wife Stephanie works as the firm’s vice president of sales and is instrumental in its involvement with non-profit organizations.

Someday, McCloud hopes to be remembered by the next generation of owners for his resilience and commitment to excellence. “The challenges you face in business can make you stronger or demotivate you,” he said. “The companies that turn challenges into opportunities and reinvent themselves grow and succeed.”