Richard Estrada: Getting the Bugs Out
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
NOVATO – When Richard Estrada first started working in the pest control industry, he was at a crossroads: burned out, overtired and looking for change. “I was delivering produce for a company based in San Francisco, which meant a lot of very early mornings,” he recalls. “I had just become a father a couple years earlier, and I found I wasn’t able to spend as much time with my son as I wanted because I was always trying to catch up on sleep.”
Richard knew he wanted to transition to a job with regular daytime hours, but he wasn’t sure where to start looking, so when he got an invitation from a friend to try his hand in a totally new industry, he didn’t hesitate to accept. “A good friend of mine owned a pest control company, and he invited me to work with him for a day to see if it was something I’d like to do,” he explains. “As it turned out, I found it very interesting and decided to keep working for him. Sixteen years later, I’m president of ATCO Pest Control.”
Born in East Los Angeles and raised in Iowa, Richard moved to the Bay Area in 1989, where he still lives with his wife, Stella, and their two sons, Nathan and Marcus. After nearly 25 years, he says he still appreciates the natural beauty of the indigenous landscape. “We have the bay, the mountains and so much more. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else at this point.” Richard and his family like to take advantage of all the area has to offer, engaging in a variety of outdoor activities such as biking, hiking and skiing. One pastime that Richard especially enjoys is golfing with his sons. “My boys and I go golfing quite often. It’s a great way for us to enjoy the beauty of creation and spend some time together.”
In his professional career, Richard says a crucial ingredient for success has been his personal associations. “When I went into business for myself, I knew it would be important to surround myself with people who were smarter than me when it came to business matters. Today, whether it’s industry colleagues or company employees, I continue to partner with people whom I can collaborate with and learn from.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Richard says it wouldn’t be a likely scenario. “Quite honestly, I can’t see myself retiring. I enjoy what I do and love working alongside my team members. I might travel and play golf a little more often, but I could never see myself fully retired.”
Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: My smile.
Q: Which super power would you choose, flight or invisibility?
Q: If you were an insect, what would you be?
A: I think I would be an ant—they’re hard workers and they don’t need to be told what to do.
Q: Do you have any memorable job stories?
A: One time, I got a call about an ant problem at a client’s house. As we were in the kitchen looking at the infestation, the client brought my attention to an ant farm that was sitting on the countertop. We both had to laugh at the irony.
Q: What’s one movie that people would be surprised you’ve never seen?