• Company
    Mid-Valley Pest & Weed LLC
  • Owner
    Frank and Marcey Williams
  • Location
    Omak, WA

SBDC advising helps new owners keep Mid-Valley Pest working for Okanogan County

OMAK, Wash.—Frank Williams had been working at Mid-Valley Pest in Omak for about five years when the owner, Russ Brantner, decided it was time to retire after nearly four decades in the business. Too often, when small business owners retire, no one else steps up and the business closes. Fortunately, in this case, Williams and his wife, Marcey, not only wanted to buy, but they had previous experience owning a business.

In fact, they had spent nearly a decade in retail, first in Southern California and later on the Kitsap Peninsula, where they had dozens of employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in inventory, much of it perishable. But, they had intentionally left that behind in 2019 when they sold their Grocery Outlet store in Silverdale and made their vacation property in Brewster their full-time residence, determined to create a better work-life balance.

It’s not that Frank always wanted to work in pest control, but he did need a job in rural north-central Washington, and he liked the idea of working outside. So, when he saw an ad that Mid-Valley Pest Control was hiring, he applied and was hired.

Frank Williams and Russ Brantner (l-r)

Turns out he enjoyed the work, and Branter was a generous boss who enjoyed mentoring new employees. In the fall of 2023, when Brantner started talking about retiring, Frank was already managing the business. the Williamses started exploring their options.

As owners of a Grocery Outlet store, they had access to a corporate support team to guide them through everything from buying the store to keeping it going to eventually selling it, but when it came to buying Mid-Valley Pest Control, they were on their own.

That’s why when their accountant suggested they contact Lew Blakeney, a business advisor with the Washington Small Business Development Center, they gave him a call. They had already started to assemble a network of professional services, including the accountant, a lawyer, an insurance broker and others, but no one who could walk them through both the practical steps of how to set up a new business and help them think through the larger question of, does it make financial sense to do this?

That’s where Blakeney came in.

Blakeney is one of nearly 40 business advisors working in communities across the state to help business owners and aspiring business owners start, grow or buy/sell a business. The Washington SBDC is hosted by Washington State University and received about half its funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) the other half of SBDC funding comes from institutions of higher education, economic development agencies and municipal governments, and civic and business groups. The SBDC in Okanogan County receives funding support from The Economic Alliance. Blakeney’s SBDC colleagues at The Economic Alliance including Mason Duke.

Frank and Marcey Williams

First Blakeney sent them a detailed checklist of what they would need to do to get the business licensed in their names, once the sale went through. Williams said he was impressed with how fast Blakeney got back to him, and also with the thoroughness and clarity of his list.

Blakeney then offered to review the proposed purchase agreement and past financial documents such as five years of tax returns. Blakeney is neither a lawyer nor a CPA and does not veer into those lanes, but with deep expertise in small business development, he could point out those data points that showed positive trends as well as dig into any areas of concern. The biggest concern, of course, was whether they could afford the purchase.

“Lew went over the profit and loss statements and other spreadsheets to make sure that we had enough revenue to pay Russ, pay our employees and pay ourselves,” Frank said.

“He made us comfortable that we could afford it.”

The Williamses took over the business on Jan. 30, and the transition has been nearly seamless. Marcey has taken over the office administration, one of the service technicians stayed with the business and they recently hired a second technician. When questions arise, or even when they don’t, they can reach out to Blakeney and he is happy to help.

“We had no idea of this valuable resource until getting into this business adventure,” Marcey said.

For more about the Washington SBDC, go here.