Published January 15, 2002
Volume 10, Number 1

Big Valley Termite Gets at What's Eating You
Big Valley Termite
Jean Melton, president of Big Valley Termite, with the document appointing her
to the state's Structural Pest Control Board. She has served on the board
since her June, 2001 appointment by Gov. Gray Davis. 

Jean Melton, president of Big Valley Termite, has a simple rule when it comes to her customers' homes. 

"I wouldn't do something to someone's structure that I wouldn't do to my own home." 

It's been a guiding principle throughout the life of her business, which she started in 1989 with a partner she later bought out. 

"This is essentially my home town -- I've been here since 1970, so I like to maintain a relationship with the community," she explains. 

Big Valley Termite provides termite inspections, treatment of the affected areas, and repair work if necessary.

About 90 percent of the company's business comes from the local real estate industry. 

"I sold real estate for years so I understand where real estate agents are coming from," she explains. "That helped me in this business." 

As anyone who has purchased a home knows, one of the key elements in the transaction is the termite inspection. A home that is being sold is always inspected for damage from termites-- it's required by lenders who don't want to make mortgage loans on homes that also house a colony of termites. 

"We do the inspections on the homes for the real estate transactions and then we do corrective work," she says. "We either do the treatment of the termites or the carpentry -- whatever it is that needs to be done so that the home can be certified and the transaction closed." Her daughter, who is a general contractor, oversees the corrective repair segment of the business and also handles remodeling of bathrooms and kitchens. 

She's found that Pleasanton has been a good place for her business, due in part to the city's climate. 

"Remember this used to be an area with a lot of orchards? Well, the termites have finished with the underground roots and all of the debris that was left from the orchards. We've moved into their territory and they're looking for a new food source." 

Treatments for termites are getting more effective and efficient, however. Melton is particularly fond of a product called Premise which works on subterranean termites. For drywood termites, the company prefers tenting and fumigation.

The most recent development in Melton's career is her appointment to the California Structural Pest Control Board, a part of the Department of Consumer Affairs, which was made last June by Governor Gray Davis. 

"That was a great honor for me as a woman that has infiltrated a male-dominated business," she smiles. "I'm the first woman who is a member of the industry to serve on the board." 

For the next three-and-a-half years, she will work with her fellow board members -- two others from within the industry and four members of the public-- to set the policies, procedures, and regulations that govern the state's pest control industry. 

"We vote on regulations, work with the legislative process, change whatever rules need to be changed," she says. "People come before us if they've had a violation of the law and we take care of those problems." 

It's a great accomplishment and it's one that Melton is proud of. "I thought that there were some things I could contribute to the industry," she says when asked why she chose pest control to begin with. She certainly has. 


Also in this issue ...