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Local vet launches his own business

A Spotsylvania County man has found a way to both solve a pesky problem and start his own business.

Jeff Deiters, a corporate pilot who lives in a heavily wooded subdivision, bought a Mosquito Joe franchise last summer after discovering that the service it provides could rid his yard of fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.

“I don’t have to put flea medication on my dogs anymore,” he said. “It was one of those niches that you personally love having.”

Deiters served in the Air Force for 21 years before retiring seven years ago at the rank of lieutenant colonel. He now flies three or four days a week for Under Armour and Choice Hotels. But he’d long wanted to use the skills he learned in the military to run his own business.

“I like working with people,” he said. That’s what you develop in the Air Force. You depend on other people, and you’re very loyal and dedicated to your unit and your employees.”

Deiters, who has a master’s degree in business management, said he found out about Mosquito Joe from a fellow pilot who had bought the franchise for Howard County, Md.

“He said, ‘It’s perfect for us. We’ve got the time to do it.’”

Deiters checked out the company’s competition, which seemed limited in the Fredericksburg area, and visited its headquarters in Virginia Beach before making his decision.

“This seemed to be the best run and have the best business plan,” he said.

It also didn’t hurt that the cost to buy a Mosquito Joe franchise was less than many franchises. Deiters said that it was $7,500 when he bought his, but he got a 50 percent discount because he’s a veteran.

The typical total initial investment is $68,000, according to the company’s website. That includes such additional expenses as marketing, computers, a vehicle, chemicals and equipment.

“They require you to spend quite a bit on marketing,” Deiters said. “In the first few years, it’s one of the major costs. That’s the other part I’m learning: how to find a niche to get to my customers with the least amount of cost.”

Mosquito Joe specializes in ridding private, public and commercial properties of fleas, ticks and mosquitoes by using a spray that’s strong enough to kill insects smaller than a house fly. It’s not harmful to people or animals.

The chemicals used include synthetic forms of pyrethrins called pyrethroids, which are insecticides that are derived from a naturally occurring compound called pyrethrum found in the chrysanthemum flower. The effect lasts three weeks. An all-natural alternative is available, but its effectiveness lasts only two weeks.

Deiters said that the sprays will kill mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus and deer ticks, which can carry Lyme disease. He said that while there have been no reports of West Nile locally, there have been instances of Lyme disease in Spotsylvania.

“It works on stink bugs, also,” he said. “Around here, that’s a big deal.”

Deiters launched his franchise in June after undergoing five days of training in Virginia Beach. It included instruction on how to use Mosquito Joe’s computer system and how to use the equipment. He also got his applicator’s license.

The business is seasonal, and he hires college students who are home for the summer. His wife, retired Air Force Maj. Annette Deiters, also helps. The fee for a treatment depends on the size of a property, he said. It runs around $59 for a house on a lot that’s a third of an acre.

Deiters said he plans to buy a second vehicle for the business next year so he can expand, and is thinking of buying an additional Mosquito Joe franchise.

“They’ve reserved the Woodbridge area for me, and I might move into Warrenton,” he said. “Northern Virginia is too far.”

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407