Tucson Lifestyle — February 2016
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Biz Q&A: 5 Star Termite & Pest Control

Once Shelby Hawkins decides to do something, there is no stopping her. That can-do attitude resulted in Hawkins becoming the first female termite inspector in Arizona. Hawkins, who moved to Tucson in 1978, has degrees in social science and Recreation Education from Brigham Young University. She was working as a social worker in 1980 when she decided to switch careers. She eventually raised three daughters as a single parent while growing her company, 5 Star Termite & Pest Control, now celebrating 35 years in business. Along the way, she invented a patented method of above-ground termite control application.

Today, Hawkins continues to run her company, and her family has grown to include three grandchildren and one dog (Sweet Pea). She and her company are strong supporters of Wright Flight, which teaches students how to set goals and achieve them using the chance to fly a real plane as motivation.

Why did you decide to become a termite inspector?

“My husband at the time was working as a termite inspector and that job seemed much more interesting to me than being a social worker. There was no closure as a social worker. My small stature and gymnastic skills also have worked to my advantage in pest control — I can fit into very tight crawl spaces under homes.”

What is 5 Star’s approach as a pest control company?

“We are out-of-the box thinkers. We analyze the situation and go beyond what the label says. Every home is different, and we need to determine where the termites are coming in and how to prevent them from coming back. We do not use the normal (in-ground) system; we apply control materials to the interior of your wall. This lasts longer than any soil application and keeps your family and pets safe from any contamination potential.

I do not micro-manage my employees; I only hire people who are selfstarters and can think on their own two feet. I tell them, ‘You work with me, not for me.’ The only time we fail is if we quit — and we don’t quit.”

What is ETT444?

“ETT444 is an above-ground application for termites that I patented in 2001. The ETT stands for effective termite treatment. The 444 comes from a book I read about a man who said he was the incarnation of the apostle Paul. It is my way of honoring inspiration that we cannot see. My invention was of a spiritual nature. I am smart, but not that smart! I met the right people at the right time who helped me solve problems. My mentor is Roger Gold, Ph.D., of Texas A&M. I always call him the best entomologist in the country. I don’t consider myself an inventor — I am a problem solver. I minored in geology so I know how soil reacts with chemicals, and I figured out what I could do to make termite treatment more effective. Choosing a career in solving termite problems was the best business decision I ever made.”

Why do you think you have been so successful?

“I am determined to win. I don’t give up until I get the brass ring. I also enjoy what I do. Running your own business is really hard — especially in the beginning — but it can be extremely rewarding. Plus you get to pick who you work with!

What has it been like being a woman in a male dominated business?

“The hardest part is that men don’t always accept me as a certified pest control operator, but I also have men who say I am a straight shooter and call me for advice. Because I was the first woman termite inspector in the state, other women tell me I paved the way for them.”

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

“I am a pilot. I have my own plane and try to fly at least once a week.”

Do you have any future goals for 5 Star?

“We have so many clients in the Phoenix area that we may open an office up there. We also are looking at offering pigeon control.

— Wendy Sweet

5 Star Pest Control can be reached at 520-886-0045; website is www.5star-termite.com.

Just the Facts

Owner Shelby Hawkins patented a method of aboveground termite control application in 2001. | Termites have been around for 300 million years, so they know what they want. | To prevent termites from eating away at your home, avoid earth-to-wood contact, excessive moisture, a faulty grade (where the top of the soil is at the same height or higher than your home’s cement slab or stucco), and wood rot (caused by a fungus that eats the wood and gives off an odor that attracts termites).