cropped image of pest control worker spraying pesticides on floor in kitchen

Local pest control technician overcomes rough start to find peace in work

Hollywood is amazing at taking stories of wayward youth who received the right mentor and pulled through to the success story.
It is a recipe for a timeless story that has been told through the ages. Recipe: One bad apple, a sprinkle of some early conflict, a heaping helping of a valiant hero mentor, a dash of redemption, and a pile of hard work and good vibes in the end.
For RJ Morris, a pest control technician with Friendly Pest Control and resident of Prescott Country Club, it almost seems that his story could have been a Lifetime movie premier. By the age of 12, Morris had fallen in with an undesirable crowd. He was starting to land in hot water at every turn. His mom was beside herself with the grief of how her son was turning out She feared the cycle she had heard of so many other kids getting into before.

Once RJ’s mom met a man who would eventually take on the role of stepdad, all of the wayward troubled times turned around. “When I moved from Tucson to Payson, that’s when my life really started. My stepdad was a cowboy type,” said Morris. Morris’ skateboard and video games began to take a backseat because his stepdad stepped in and stepped up.

“I was a good student until sixth grade. It was a rough time in my life. When I moved to Payson, everything turned around for me. My stepdad took one look at me and basically told me to get on the horse and stop being an ass,” Morris said with a chuckle.

It was the right mixture of fatherly love and a firm hand that sent Morris down a new path. “I started riding horses, collecting bugs, and building forts. That had become my life,” Morris explained. “Being outdoors as a kid was kinda cool. I learned to appreciate the outdoors and nature,” he said. 

Morris and his stepdad would go out into the great outdoors and that is where Morris learned his love for insects and animals.
“My stepdad was big into hunting. It wasn’t my thing. I don’t like to kill things. I preferred to collect lizards and stuff. It was cool to see how everything is connected in nature,” Morris said. Although Morris finds himself knee-deep in critters every day in his pest control career, he had a background in carpentry out of high school that helped him land the job.

“I think I was hired with Friendly mostly because of my background in carpentry. When I went into the rodent thing, carpentry skills came in handy because I know how to make measurements, work on wood projects affected by the removal of pests and have an eye for detail,” said Morris. Although Morris’ job with Friendly is simply a means for a paycheck to feed his family. According to Morris, his work satisfaction goes well beyond the paycheck.

“Pest control is a job that can lead to intense interactions with customers. I have one customer that calls me directly. They have a baby and so do I. We bonded over that. I work hard to make sure that they don’t have to worry about pests in their home around their baby,” said Morris. 

Morris also likes a challenge.
“I’ve had a customer that was overrun with cockroaches. I had a customer that was a hoarder that had rats and mice. I understand that she has a condition. She is a hard-working good American who was embarrassed. She finally asked for help. I was the guy. I love to help somebody like that. I love doing a quality job and that people appreciate me as a person,” he said.

According to Morris, most accounts are routine. A guy will find ants on his counter. He calls us. We assess his situation and implement a plan. Pretty easy. What really makes Morris get up in the morning are the few accounts he receives each year that are a challenge.

“I love a challenge. I love being able to help people reclaim their homes from invaders. I love working for Friendly because of the leadership and mission of the company. Friendly donates and works for charity throughout the year as well. I love this company,” said Morris. 

Morris also loves the Prescott area because it is growing rapidly. Morris says he loves to meet people from all over the world that are moving into Prescott.
According to Morris, he couldn’t be happier with life in Prescott. Although he is comfortable with the way his life is now, he has future goals personally and professionally
“Our son is almost two years old. My wife and I have white picket fence plans man. We are looking to upgrade to a piece of property with fewer neighbors. I just want to own something and have a family where everyone is contributing to society. I want the American Dream and that’s it,” he said.
On a less personal note, Morris has plans within Friendly Pest Control as well. because of his relationship with his boss Matt Abney, the owner of Friendly Pest Control. This area in particular has massive amounts for potential growth

On a less personal note, Morris has plans within Friendly Pest Control as well. because of his relationship with his boss Matt Abney, the owner of Friendly Pest Control.
This area in particular has massive amounts for potential growth. “During covid, we didn’t slow down very much. They are building like crazy out here. I want to have a small crew of dedicated guys where we just go knock things out. I like to focus on rodents. We also have woodpeckers, packrats, and three different species of mice. I want to change the game. Matt is a visionary. I’ve had all kinds of bosses. He is 100 percent the best boss I’ve ever had. He has big brain ideas and he is doing quality work as I’ve never seen. I see this business and this industry elevating to where we aren’t just pest guys anymore. We are who you call when you have a problem. I take pride in our crew. We show up and we are professional. We mlook good and when we show up to a job, we get to know our customers so we can connect with them,” Morris said.
Morris leaves us with sage advice that he has learned over the years in the pest control industry.

“Shut up and listen. Listen to the kids. Listen to the adults. Listen to everybody. You have to have patience and keep organized. My van is a mess right now because I have been so busy and will make my next three days harder. Being organized is so important. Listening to the customer is critical. Even though the customers typically say the same thing. It’s the little details that give clues that will help you solve the problem,” he said. “I love my job and I love my customers. Money is a side effect to doing what we do,” Morris concluded.

If you find yourself battling with pests, be sure to call one of the six amazing technicians at Friendly Pest Control — (928) 363-4232

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