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In the late 1880’s a Chicago pharmaceutical salesman, E.R. Jennings, read about the Turkish soldiers who survived the plague during the 19th century Russo-Turkish war by dusting themselves with floral powder to protect from lice and fleas. He experimented with similar powders and discovered an effective pesticide (pyrethrum) that was apparently not toxic to people. He packaged and sold it to food plants and packing houses all over Chicago’s south side. As his business grew, he hired and trained staff to not only sell it but also how to apply it. This made Jennings one of the country’s first professional exterminators.
The demand was so great that by 1888 Jennings had over a dozen workers and Smithereen Exterminators was officially born. As the years progressed, Smithereen continued to develop new and revolutionary pesticides and in 1910 trademarked the word “Insecticide” with the department of the interior (April 14, 1910 – No. 47243).
By 1926 offices were opened in the north and west side and although the depression made growth difficult, large companies were taking over a lot of real estate properties and were in need a company that would not only sell them pest control products but have the skills to use, Smithereen found a niche. Smithereen also expanded to numerous other locations in the Midwest, in the east, and even west.
The 2nd generation president, H.E. Jennings took charge and brought with him new philosophies from his time in WWII, where he was enlisted in the Navy. He was active in helping in the war against malaria and other insect born diseases. Upon his return and time as a leader of Smithereen he was also the president of National Pest Control Association during its early years.
R.E. Jennings, a Purdue graduate and well-known Chicago businessman, became president in 1968. As a 3rd generation leader at the helm of Smithereen, he led the company with the same principles on which the company was founded. He was integral in shaping Smithereen into what it is today and had many challenges and successes along the way from fire to expansion to its current 5 locations in Chicagoland and Kansas City. The company was investing in itself by developing continuous staff training, requiring staff to be state licensed, hiring specialized staff that would elevate the service and make Smithereen an industry leader for years to come. Smithereen was already ahead of the game by the 90’s with highly developed IPM programs, no longer using many toxic products years before they were eliminated from the market by the EPA, and making a vacuum a standard piece of equipment for pest removal rather than spraying. The 21st century saw Smithereen only continue to move forward by working with SAFER Pest Control Project to create IPM programs that the State could use in public schools.
In 2001, Smithereen Exterminating Company – America’s Pied Piper, became Smithereen Pest Management Services – Your Partner for a Healthy Environment. The change was marked by a Name Day celebration attended by all employees. The new name accurately reflects Smithereen’s commitment to continuing the use of Integrated Pest Management techniques and developing innovative strategies and long term solutions.
Smithereen is now led by a 4th generation owner and president, J.R. Jennings, who is continuing Smithereen’s 2nd century of devoted service, ground breaking business strategies, and a commitment to not only employees but the communities Smithereen serves.
Commercial and Residential Pest Control Since 1888