Steve Free Celebrates His Silver Anniversary in Pest Control with The Bug Stops Here
Steve Free started with nothing but always had something. Growing up in Brooklyn in the ‘60s, with almost no education and little to no opportunities, he must have always had his drive, his determination and his will to succeed, because he has made a huge success of his life.
25 years ago he met a man named Walter Schroeder who started him on the right path. Schroeder became his mentor, his friend and his honorary uncle. “Uncle Walter we call him,” relates Free. “I was this punk kid from Brooklyn with no education and he got me into this class that the government was sponsoring, and he got me my education.” The class was on extermination and after Free completed the 8-week course, Walter had him (and 10 other graduates) placed in several different exterminating companies. Free was on his way. ”I took what he taught me and ran with it and I am so grateful. He gave me a trade, a future. I have tried to repay this: I’ve tried to be like Uncle Walter and give kids what he gave me.”
Having successfully owned, run and even more importantly, enjoyed his life with The Bug Stops Here Inc. for the last 17 years, (with 8 earlier years in the bug biz) Free is truly thankful for all that he has. Not only does he run his booming bug business, but he travels all over the island, speaking for free to various chambers of commerce, rotaries and local branches of the Kiwanis club, educating the public about the ever-growing problems of disease and difficulties from pests. For Free, it’s not about money; it’s about helping people and teaching them how to protect themselves.
A huge problem that has recently surfaced, one that hadn’t affected this country in 50-plus years, is the recent and ever-growing problem with bedbugs. In the last three years, this epidemic has grown by a whopping, frightening 500 percent. So what can people do? Go to a seminar given by Free and learn how we can all take part in preventing this terrible problem from escalating.
When educating the public, he offers words of warning and caution: Watch what you bring home when you go on vacation and be careful about who you have staying with you. In this carefree and careless age of flying everywhere and anywhere at a moment’s notice, bedbugs have been brought in record numbers to this country and Free wants to put an end to this. “If I can stop someone from spreading disease, I’m happy.”
Steve Free gets happy from just helping people in general. So often he visits a home where a woman is hysterical, sobbing in fright from the bugs that have invaded her home. Free feels it is his job to not only clear her home of bugs, but to ease her mind. And that is the part that he thrives on. “When I get to a house and see a woman crying and I can help, I’m happy. When she’s been bitten by fleas, or termites are destroying the house, I come in and I’m like Mighty Mouse,” says Free.
Saving the day has gotten him where he is today. “It’s not about the money, I truly love my customers. I remember that if not for them, I ‘d have nothing. Do my customers need me on Christmas Day at 11 o’clock at night? I’ll be there-Terminix won’t, Orkin won’t. I come when they want me to come.”
The Bug Stops Here serves over 2000 residential customers each month, but is looking to expand its horizons and now has clients on all ends of the commercial spectrum, from restaurants to warehouses, from townhouses to condos.
Free built The Bug Stops Here, as he puts it, on “integrity and a handshake” and he continues to practice that integrity in all aspects of his business and his life. Happily married for 23 years and the doting father of an 8-year-old boy, Free is right where he wants to be, successful in business and successful in life. And for Free, the journey is everything. “I still love what I do and that’s important. I’m very grateful to my customers who have stuck by me all these years. I’m blessed.”
For more information on pest control and The Bug Stops Here Inc., go to www.thebugsstophere.com or call 631-642-2903 for Suffolk, or 516-678-7681 for Nassau.