Tim Pollard – Pest Control Technology
It’s a simple formula, really: A commitment to working hard and a willingness to learn every day. This philosophy is at the core of the leadership story that is Tim Pollard.
Pollard’s journey in pest management, from an internship with DowElanco during college to being named president of Arrow Exterminators in 2020, is proof that these key tenets can lead to remarkable achievement and deep respect within the industry.
A native of Springville, Ala., Pollard attended Auburn University in the late 1980s studying agriculture science with the intent of working in landscape design. But it was an internship at DowElanco in the vegetation management market, calling on departments of transportation, that opened his eyes to the wider opportunities available across agriculture.
He worked in sales for several distributors after graduation, and that led to a call from Dow with an opportunity in eastern Nebraska selling crop protection products to agricultural retailers and cooperatives. Three Central Plains winters got him thinking about a return to the warmth of the Southeast, and that’s when opportunity knocked again — one that would launch him into the structural pest control industry.
“I got an internal notice from Dow that they were looking for people to work on the launch of the Sentricon System, working out of South Georgia,” recalls Pollard. “So, we made the move and I learned how to sell pine sticks.”
The launch of the Sentricon System, of course, was no ordinary task. This new approach to controlling termites via baits would require lots of hands-on demonstrations to pest management companies — as well as lots of education around this new control methodology.
Tim Pollard enjoys spending time with his family, which includes son TJ, daughter Kresta and wife Kathy. Not pictured is daughter Ashland.
“We would select the two worst termite- infested houses in select markets and deploy the system to prove it worked,” says Pollard. “Fortunately, the markets responded very well and homeowners liked the results.”
What differences did Pollard witness between the ag and pest control markets?
“Pest management had a very different vibe,” he says, “but I really enjoyed it. I was helping people solve serious pest problems and protect their homes and businesses from damage and costly repairs, and they were very appreciative for that.”
Customers who took notice of Pollard’s abilities included Joe Thomas, chairman of the board, Arrow Exterminators, and Joe’s daughter, Emily Thomas Kendrick, CEO of Arrow Exterminators.
“When I entered the industry in 1998 Tim was Arrow’s Dow rep,” Kendrick recalls. “At my first Arrow managers’ meeting, Tim was there to speak on behalf of Dow and I’ll never forget my dad leaning over to me and saying, ‘Keep an eye on that boy right there. His name is Tim Pollard and he’s really going places. We’d be lucky to have him at Arrow one day.’ Right on dad. Boy was he right!”
The Thomases kept track of Pollard, including during his stops at Dow’s headquarters in Indianapolis and then in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where Pollard and his family moved after he became director of sales for Dow’s Canadian ag business. As his family grew up, and his kids with wife Kathy approached school age (daughters Kresta and Ashland and son TJ) Tim and Kathy wanted to plant roots closer to Alabama.
In 2009, the stars aligned as Arrow had an opening for senior vice president of sales at the Atlanta-based firm.
“Arrow Exterminators was a customer with Sentricon who I had known for 14 years, and it was the only company I contacted,” says Pollard.
Making The Shift
Adjusting to the operations side of the pest management business was an early challenge for Pollard.
“It’s a different pace … a very fast pace,” he says. “At Dow we received numbers once a month, but in pest management it’s daily. You learn quickly to manage with high cash flow and many customers paying relatively small amounts of money.”
Arrow executives (from left to right) Shay Runion, Kevin Burns, Tim Pollard and Emily Thomas Kendrick release balloons in support of an Arrow team member whose parent had recently passed away.
On the customer side, his experience is that homeowners appreciate and value pest control more than in years past. And from the start, Arrow’s emphasis on having the right people in sales and customer service roles has fostered success for his team.
“It’s all about having the right people doing the job. People who tell customers what we’re going to do and then do it,” says Pollard. “Many Arrow customers are second-generation clients because they believe in us and see the results.”
Another Arrow Exterminators executive who came from the supplier side (also from Dow) is Kevin Burns, chief development officer. Burns also noted that what makes the service side so different (and exciting) is having to take care of so many customers in such a timely fashion. Pollard’s intelligence, Burns says, is what has helped him not only make that transition to the service side, but allowed him to excel in it. “What Tim is able to do is get under the surface and really see how the company operates, really see how people work. Tim has an innate ability to anticipate issues and work through issues before they’re even well identified.”
Once Pollard got acclimated to the flow of business, Arrow provided Pollard with a tremendous opportunity to spread his wings as a leader and incorporate his skills and approach to management.
Kendrick says that as senior vice president of sales for three years, Pollard “crushed it” during a challenging time when our country was going through a recession, the termite market was in the tank and Arrow’s business model was becoming obsolete.
“Tim led the effort to completely change the way our company went to market,” Kendrick recalls. “This was no small feat. At that point we had been doing it the same way for 45 years. We had a lot of salespeople, as well as managers, who were not big on change. In his very unique and persistent way, Tim led a sweeping change throughout the company that was extremely successful and is still how we go to market today.”
Being quick and decisive is a skillset that Pollard works on with his team.
“You learn to be flexible and prepared to make the next right decision, but not deciding is not an option,” says Pollard. “Give it proper thought and diligence, surround yourself with great people that can provide input, and make the decision — if it is wrong, you can make a different one next time. And, whatever the outcome, you must own it.”
Kendrick says she loves watching Pollard make a recommendation or a decision. “He manages to strike an epic balance between asking plenty of clarifying and challenging questions, and making a decision in a timely manner. I never have to worry about Tim taking too long to make a decision, nor making one too quickly. He is always spot on.”
Imparting this stick-and-move decision-making approach to the team is leading by example, Pollard says. “They must see you are engaged in the process and not afraid to make decisions and take risks when appropriate. They should not be worried about being wrong, no one is perfect. We try to avoid making the fatal mistake and ensure that if a bad call is made that we learn from it.”
Mentoring is also very important, and managers cannot step away from having unpleasant conversations.
“A manager once came to me asking for advice on what he could improve on,” says Pollard. “I looked at him and said, ‘Are you sure you want to hear it?’ We sat down and had a very transparent and, at times, difficult conversation about what he needed to improve, but eight years later he is still with the company and, ultimately, he thanked me for the conversation. It’s all about wanting to help others succeed.”
Passion for Ministry
Growing up, faith and service to others were encouraged in the Pollard household, and these are pursuits Tim is committed to continuing and growing no matter where his work takes the family. He currently is a deacon and active member of the Johnson Ferry Church in Marietta, Ga., where he participates in service projects both in the United States and abroad.
His heart breaks for the people of Ukraine, where he spent time in 2015 running soccer clinics, hosting meals, and sharing faith messages. He’s also been to Madrid to help with local church festival activities and entertainment, and the Dominican Republic as well.
“It’s a great reminder of all that we have in our country and to be thankful,” says Pollard. “We’ve experienced the hunger that people have for interaction and connection everywhere we’ve been.”
Burns says Pollard is well-respected for his candor and open-door policy. “Tim is approachable and always makes time for whoever needs it. There are times when you have difficult news to deliver or you have a significant issue that you’ve got to talk to talk to him about and he is always just cool, calm and collected.”
Embracing Culture & Innovation
Kendrick is a big proponent of building and re-inforcing Arrow’s culture and Pollard is instrumental in this process, Burns says.
“What Tim does is ensure that we keep culture as part of our daily interactions,” says Burns. “So, as we’re talking with other team members, as we’re talking with our customers, as we’re talking with our partners, Tim makes sure we talk about how important culture is in our relationships. We have this term ‘We do it all with a clear conscience’ and Tim is always reminding us that this is important to maintaining our culture.”
Innovation is an Arrow core value, and Pollard is in the middle of the company’s efforts to uncover the next big idea.
Every month Arrow’s innovation team, which is made up of Kendrick, Pollard, and other senior-level leaders representing human resources, customer care, IT, operations and marketing, meets to review innovation ideas submitted by Arrow’s more than 3,000 team members. Ideas are evaluated and the company has implementation teams to further study ideas. Highly coveted innovation ‘eggs’ are awarded for great ideas.
“The process keeps us on the cutting edge and ahead of needed changes to our processes and procedures to better serve customers,” Pollard adds. “Our challenge to the entire team is to always be looking for a breakthrough in process or technology, and they have responded exceptionally well.”
And while future innovation is critical, another important element of the Arrow culture is “winning the day.” Employees who do outstanding work on core projects are awarded “challenge coins” for exceptional work.
“At last year’s fiscal kickoff, which brings in about 500 team members, we gave coins to the four organizers of the event,” says Pollard. “The extra recognition makes a difference.”
Pollard has willingly shared his expertise and experience with the broader industry, serving in leadership roles with the National Pest Management Association and the Georgia Pest Control Association.
Within NPMA, Pollard serves on the Pest Management Foundation and the association’s Workforce Development Committee.
“You always receive more than you contribute to these situations, from the interaction with new people to the exposure to new ideas, it is a great experience and a pleasure to serve,” says Pollard. “Both the Foundation and the Workforce Development Committee have had a tremendous impact on our industry and will continue.”
His experience on the Workforce Development Committee, where he currently serves as immediate past chairman, was particularly gratifying.
The Pollard File
President & COO
Auburn University, Bachelor of Science Degree, Agriculture
- Dow Chemical (1993-95), sales representative
- DowElanco (1995-2009), account manager for Sentricon; director of sales for Canada
- Arrow Exterminators (2009-12), senior vice president of sales
- Arrow Exterminators (2012-20), COO
- Arrow Exterminators (2020-current), president and COO
- Treasurer for NPMA’s Pest Management Foundation
- Immediate past chairman of NPMA’s Workforce Development Committee
Married to high school sweetheart, Kathy, for 30 years; parents to Kresta (24), Ashland (21) and TJ (16). An avid car enthusiast, Pollard enjoys golf, exploring the outdoors in an ATV or Jeep. He also enjoys watching college football and coaching basketball. Pollard is an active member of Johnson Ferry Church where he currently serves as a deacon. He is also a member of the board of trustees for Mount Bethel Christian Academy in Marietta, Ga.
“How do we tell the story of our industry in a way that draws more individuals into the pool,” says Pollard. “There are people looking for good careers, and our message must show that we’re a steady industry, we have more opportunities than you think and we use more technology than you realize.”
Just Getting Started
In his quiet way, Pollard is a difference-maker, whether it’s his work on associations or his commitment to his colleagues and customers at Arrow Exterminators.
As Mike Malone, senior vice president of marketing for Arrow Exterminators, notes, “Tim brings a very positive and uplifting outlook to his work that is infectious with everyone.”
In May 2020, Kendrick promoted Pollard to president of Arrow Exterminators, a move that was a natural progression for both him and Arrow.
“I’ve known Tim for over 24 years and he’s one of the finest leaders, men and friends I’ve ever known. I’ve worked side by side with Tim since 2012 when I promoted him to COO and I can honestly say that every single one of those days has been a pleasure. We’ve been through the best of times and the worst of times together. He’s a dear friend and an amazing business partner and we both believe we’re just getting started and we’re excited about the Arrow family’s future!”