Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Brad Gates, Founder of Gates Wildlife Control, located in Toronto, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is humane wildlife control, with an emphasis on humane. I hold the lives of animals in high regard and use techniques that minimize the animals' stress. Our main customers are a homeowner experiencing animals living inside their homes.
Tell us about yourself
I was born and raised in Scarborough. I absolutely loved the outdoors and spent the majority of my youth exploring the ravine behind my house. I had developed an emotional connection with everything wild. As a youngster, I had the opportunity to raise and care for a wide variety of animals such as rabbits, pigeons, and squirrels, but the most impactful animal I raised was a 2-week old baby raccoon named Mandy. At 16 years old, I spent most of my time interacting, playing, and teaching Mandy but mostly learning about this incredibly complex and intelligent critter. During this unique experience, I realized I needed to find a career that involved working closely with animals.
Fast forward six years to 1984. When I graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, I planned to start a wildlife removal company. With a loan from my parents and their full support, I started AAA Gates Wildlife Control. With a used truck and some rudimentary equipment, I hit the road.
I began my career in 1984. It soon became evident that the vast majority of wildlife control companies performing wildlife removal services did not hold the lives of the animals in high regard. I was so disheartened with the pain and suffering I saw in those early years. Companies were setting box traps on rooftops, and when notified that an animal had been caught, they would not make it a priority to quickly release the animal. Sometimes returning days later after the raccoon or squirrel had sustained life-threatening injuries or death in their attempts to escape the confines of the trap. There were even companies committing fraud by setting traps and collecting their money with absolutely no intention of returning to remove the trapped animals. This often resulted in them dying a horrible death within the confines of the trap. They were also closing entry holes without knowing whether they had locked animals inside the attic to die. Mother animals were trapped during the spring birthing season. They relocated many kilometers away, leaving their dependant offspring to starve to death. Offspring that still required significant nurturing and training from their mother were trapped and released alone without the necessary skills to survive. In recent years, we witnessed a few wildlife companies following our lead and performing a similar humane approach to animal removal. They understand that the public not only wants the animals evicted but also wants them cared for.
I endeavored to focus on developing techniques that put the animals' best interests as my number one priority. I like to refer to this process as working with Mother Nature, not against her. I set out to develop species-specific procedures to minimize the stress an animal would experience during the removal process. Rather than utilizing traps that often caused harm to the animals, I designed one-way door prototypes to let the animals exit the attic but not get back in to avoid separating a mother animal from her babies. A lot had to be learned on how to best reunite the family back together outside the house.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
In recent years, we witnessed a few wildlife companies following our lead and performing a similar humane approach to animal removal. They understand that the public not only wants the animals evicted but also wants them to be cared for.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
To be quite honest, when you absolutely love what you do for a living, and you surround yourself with people that share your vision, nothing is hard. There are definitely challenges, but I always l embraced them and enjoyed solving them.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Choose a business idea that you are incredibly passionate about. Surround yourself with people that share that passion. Create a strong identity that portrays your passion at every turn.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Having had the opportunity to work so closely with wildlife is my dream come true. Over the past 37 years in business, our wild neighbors have taught me so much about themselves, and I feel compelled to share these experiences. I started my YouTube channel to inform the public of our humane removal techniques and share the wonderful world of interacting with our urban wildlife's biology and behavior. Ten years later, we have over 110,000 subscribers, most of which are humane-minded.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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