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Lessons from the sky

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Jeff Deiters is taking what he learned as a pilot and using it at Mosquito Joe.

| February 11, 2014

Jeff Deiters had always wanted to start a small business. A U.S. veteran, Deiters, who is now a Mosquito Joe franchisee, spent 22 years piloting planes for the United States Air Force. During the Clinton administration, he flew in the 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, which operates all the U.S. Government’s VIP transportation, including Air Force One.

Thus, he’s had the privilege of flying many world leaders, including Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, ex-presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, as well as most of the Clinton staff including Hillary and Al Gore.

He also flew the C-141 Transport during the Gulf Wars, carrying troops and cargo to the Middle East, and dropping army paratroopers into the combat zones.

Now a commercial pilot with a less intense schedule, Deiters decided it was the perfect opening he had to start a business.

“A friend of mine, a good friend and also a coworker I fly with, we’d talked about starting businesses for years,” Deiters said. “He found Mosquito Joe actually, and he started one up in Baltimore.”

Mosquito Joe, a franchise based out of Virginia, provides mosquito control treatment to residential and commercial customers. Currently, there are 14 franchises, and the one in the Fredericksburg/Stafford, Virginia area is owned by Deiters and his wife Annette.

As someone who had never owned a business, Deiters used skills he learned in the military to help him step into the leadership role.

“I think being in the military gives you a lot of skill sets, a lot of perspective,” he said. “There’s always the discipline and the dedication that you learn. In the military you’re mission oriented, everything’s based around that. In the civilian world it’s customer service. If you look at the military as being the ultimate customer service industry, where you’re always working to help someone out and do something for the better, you can take a lot of that into the civilian world.

But I think the biggest thing is your leadership skills that you learn in the military. You’re continuously learning them, continuously going through training in the military. Teaching you leadership skills, and those leadership skills, how you interact with employees, employers, customers, in the military, those skills that you learn on how to deal with people and motivate them are probably the biggest things you can take out of the military.”

While numerous business owners may also have a military background similar to Deiters’, he had something else – the background as a pilot.

“Being a pilot teaches you a lot of things,” he said. “One of the biggest things is responsibility and reliability. As the pilot, you’re responsible for everyone that’s on the plane with you. You’re responsible for their lives, their safety. Not only just getting them from one place to someplace else. Reliability, it’s basic customer service. They want you there safely, and reliably and comfortably. So if I can equate that to Mosquito Joe, it’s to be responsible, and reliable on what people want. We’re reliable; we try not to miss any days. We’re responsible to make sure they’re satisfied with the product.”


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