For 36-year-old Luke Rambo, his journey to becoming a business owner in the pest control industry started with pure chance.
In 2001, Rambo was living in Seattle and was looking for a full-time job after leaving the University of Washington.
Rambo found his new career path after he took out a phone book and opened it up to a random page. It happened to be for pest control businesses.
The rest was history.
Luckily for Rambo, the pest control industry was the perfect fit.
“It suits me well,” Rambo said. “I like being outside and I like working with people. I like how every day is different.”
(Working in the pest control industry) suits me well. I like being outside and I like working with people. I like how every day is different.
Luke Rambo, owner of Rambo’s Total Pest Control in South Hill
Now, nearly 15 years later, no longer is Rambo only working for a pest control company — he’s the owner of one.
He opened Rambo’s Total Pest Control on 4115 S Meridian in South Hill in 2007, a family-oriented business dedicated to finding the right solutions for clients dealing with pests, from mice and rats to spiders and wasps.
“Pests usually move in for a reason,” Rambo said. “Our job is to find these entry points. We identify a route cause of a problem (and) help clients resolve a problem themselves.”
In November, Rambo was recognized by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) as its Young Entrepreneur of the Year at PestWorld, a convention held by NPMA that brings together pest control professionals from all over the country. This year, PestWorld was held in Seattle.
Rambo was nominated by the Washington State Pest Management Association (WSPMA) president Elmer Bensinger.
“Luke was the first one to come to mind,” Bensinger said about nominating Rambo. “There’s not a lot of younger guys in the industry (who are) really passionate about the industry. Luke’s one of those guys that’s really passionate about pest control.”
To win the award, a candidate must be under 40 years old and make notable contributions to the industry, to the candidate’s own business, and on a community level.
“I’ve seen him many times at our association’s events that we have,” Bensinger said. “I’ve seen him take younger guys just coming up in the industry and talk with them and share his story with him. He’s very concerned about the direction of our industry.”
Luke was the first one to come to mind. There’s not a lot of younger guys in the industry (who are) really passionate about the industry. Luke’s one of those guys that’s really passionate about pest control.
Elmer Bensinger, president of the Washington State Pest Management Association
After a long application process, Rambo found out he won the award at PestWorld 2016 and received a trophy. Only four other entrepreneurs from across the county have received the award. Rambo is the first recipient from Washington state.
“It was a big honor,” Rambo said.
Rambo lives in Puyallup with his wife and co-owner of the business, Tera, and their two children. His work is like a second home, and his personal interests shine there. A small enclosure outside his office is home to Teresa, a praying mantis who was found outside his workplace.
In his office, along with his Star Wars and Mariners collections, Rambo also collects what he calls “crawlspace finds.” These antiques range from beer cans to pest control product containers that Rambo has found over the years.
“We get into crawl spaces most people don’t normally get into,” Rambo said. “If I see something shiny, I investigate.”
Rambo’s genuine interest in the pest control industry comes across in his work, according to Bensinger.
“We always try to do the right thing,” Bensinger said about the WSPMA. “That’s what Luke does at his company as well. He puts a lot of integrity into (his business).”
While he enjoys his work, Rambo says he focuses on the people he serves.
“It really revolves around helping people and improving their quality of life,” Rambo said. “If we can improve the quality of life of someone who needs that, and (if we) can protect their home and health, that’s what we try to do.”