Find out how this Malaysian company puts the phrase “adapt, improvise and overcome” into practice to combat challenges created by COVID-19 pandemicPublished on 14 September 2021
Many of us would have had our fair share of unwanted guests in our homes creeping around at night, causing us to lose sleep and, above all, disrupting the peace. In this article, we are focusing on a local business which specialises in exterminating rodents and creepy-crawlies like cockroaches and termites. This is the story of Suria Pest Control Sdn Bhd based in Butterworth, Penang.
Since 1992, Suria Pest Control has been the mainstay for exterminating pesky pests in the northern states. The company has expanded its influence in Kuala Lumpur and has also received calls to open branches down south. With such a stellar reputation, no one would have guessed that Nageswara Rao A/L Surianarayanan, the founder of Suria Pest Control, began his career as a loyal staff of 15 years in a Japanese pest control company.
“My father wasn’t a man who got into the pest control industry because he was in love with it. He is simply a man who is diligent and good at his work,” muses Tinesh, Nageswara’s son who is in charge of the company’s marketing. He credits the longevity and success of the business to the employees, who are mostly loyal staff members who have had history with the company.
Building a name for themselves
Whether it is the common termite infestation or mosquito breeding problems and even removing snakes from lawns, Suria Pest Control covers almost all pest-related problems. Their successful service has led them to achieve accolades like the Penang Indian Small Medium Business Awards 2018, which is attributed to their innovative pest control solutions.
“Traditional methods such as drilling holes into walls and removing pests using chemicals may be effective, but it is very damaging to the structural integrity of a factory, office or home. That’s why we constantly send our employees for talks and yearly courses arranged by Jabatan Pertanian Malaysia in order to discover the best way to rid a space of pests with minimal damage.”
They go above and beyond to adopt new and modern methods by investing in their employees to keep up with the latest trends. Addressing their team’s expertise, Tinesh leaves a constant reminder, “Please leave it to the professionals.” In the age where DIY (do-it-yourself) projects are popular, most of us would try to MacGyver our way through home-related issues ourselves and attempt to solve these pest problems on our own.
“The problem arises when people who do not have enough knowledge try to meddle, which may actually worsen the situation. We’ve had a client who tried to use other chemicals while we were tracking termites resulting in an interference during the extermination process. On top of having to pay for pest extermination service, they had to fork out more money to repair the roof of their house, which collapsed.”
With over 29 years of experience, they’ve seen it all. Nageswara’s insistence on training his staff with the latest technology allows them to continue to ensure high quality pest control services. However, nothing could have prepared them for the negative impact the pandemic would have on local businesses.
Time for a change
However, nothing could have prepared them for the negative impact the pandemic would have on local businesses. “This has been the roughest patch,” Tinesh admits. “Almost 50% of our sales dropped due to strict SOPs. The situation prevents us from travelling or entering premises to conduct any extermination service. We needed to cut costs and keep the business afloat but couldn’t bear to compromise our pest control quality as it is extremely crucial and important.”
If Suria Pest Control were to be defined in a single word, it would be adaptable. Not ready to throw in the towel and always aiming for growth, they took the leap of faith to expand their services into the healthcare sector. Besides providing rental and retail of healthcare products including air fresheners and sanicare bins, they have also invested in equipment to conduct disinfection and sanitisation procedures for residential, office and commercial establishments.
Their efforts didn’t stop there. Operations in the physical space might have come to a standstill, but cyberspace is thriving more than ever. Seizing this opportunity, Suria Pest Control injected new blood and placed their trust in Tinesh to trailblaze their path into the digital world. The transformation of their business came without hesitation as Tinesh created several social media accounts to promote their business while pouring more efforts into digital marketing and advertisements for their pest control and healthcare services.
Digitalisation of their business was the way to go in this new normal. Digital transformation has garnered them an average of 10 new clients a day since its implementation. The ability to put their business on the online map with minimal funds while humanising their services allowed them to have an increased presence. Tinesh explains that they would not have had the courage to pivot their business the way they did without assistance.
“This is made possible by the SME Digitalisation Grant via Yellow Pages Malaysia. My father felt that there was nothing to lose and decided to just go for it. Needless to say, when we received the grant, we knew that this was our golden opportunity.”
Adapting and growth
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from tales of business survival amid COVID-19, fearlessly adapting and growing is key to success. Suria Pest Control is no stranger to that.
Undoubtedly, there are still ongoing uncertainties. Recalibration is needed in their adaptation process. But these challenges aren’t enough to paralyse them. After all, as Tinesh aptly puts it, “this is just the beginning” for Suria Pest Control.
For many small businesses, digital transformation could be a daunting task. Not every company has the means or knowledge to begin its journey.
The SME Digitalisation Grant provides much-needed support to local businesses that are embarking on their digital transformation. Click here now to discover the details. Additionally, check out this repository of initiatives available to SMEs under Digital Malaysia.
For related stories on the SME Digitalisation Grant on Jiran, explore the links below: