Started in 1928, Cook’s Pest Control has grown from a small business with one full-time employee and a handful of accounts to one of the nation’s largest pest control companies with 1,600 full-time employees and more than 300,000 customers.
Cook’s began in 1928 by John L. Cook in Decatur, Alabama, as North Alabama Termite Control. The termite control industry was just beginning and had no trade magazines or specialized equipment. Tools had to be adapted for use in the developing industry. Providing protection from “little white ants,” later known as termites, was the focus of John Cook’s business. He was a pioneer in the industry, and as the years progressed, his conviction deepened as he saw a definite need for protecting residential and commercial buildings.
At his death in 1950, son John R. Cook felt compelled to fulfill the five-year termite guarantees his father had contracted. Having graduated with a degree in architecture from Georgia Tech, he gave up a promising career in the field he loved and returned to Decatur with his wife Jo. In addition to termite protection, he added pest control and changed the name to Cook’s Pest Control.
Architectural training had instilled within him an attention to detail that was beneficial in growing a pest control business. Under his leadership, Cook’s grew from one full-time employee and only a few accounts, to become the eighth largest pest control company in the United States.
John Cook and his wife Jo have stressed basic themes in building Cook’s Pest Control, including honesty, courtesy, respect, and customer satisfaction. Their philosophy of providing quality service and a good place to work has been the foundation of the company.
- John R. Cook Sr. became President at the death of his father in 1950.
- To provide for the continuation of the Company, he stepped down as President in 1995, but retained his position as Chairman of the Board. In 2004 he became Chairman-Emeritus and Jo Cook became Secretary-Treasurer-Emeritus.
- In 1995 John Cook, Jr., formerly Vice-President of Marketing, became Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors. In 2004 he became Chairman of the Board and Lyn Cook became Secretary-Treasurer.
- Also in 1995, Jim Aycock was appointed President and CEO. Having served as Executive Vice-President since 1978, his leadership skills and knowledge of the industry made him well-suited for the position.
- Brian Cook, grandson of John and Jo, son of John Jr. and Lyn, joined the company in May of 2008, upon graduating from the University of Alabama with a Master’s of Business Administration. He has served in various roles and is currently the Director of Business Development.
- John R. Cook, Sr. died in February, 2009, leaving the leadership of Cook’s in capable hands.
Development of District Offices
- For 24 years, the Decatur office operated as the only branch, but in 1952, another branch was opened in Huntsville, AL , then another in 1955 in Florence, AL.
- Cook’s expanded into Tennessee when it opened the Shelbyville office in 1970.
- The first office in Georgia opened in Rome in 1975.
- More district offices have been added at an average of one every two years.
- The first office in Mississippi moved from Memphis to Olive Branch in 2009.
- Presently you can find Cook’s located in over 25 cities in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia.
Cook’s Natural Science Museum
- Began as a display for the Decatur Office Open House in 1968
- From 1969 to 1980 was located in the back of the Cook’s Warehouse and open by appointment only
- Last-used facility (5,000 square feet) built in 1980
- Was available to the public 7 days a week free of charge
- Included over 100 displays, including exhibits of insects, minerals, shells, animals, reptiles, birds and wildlife
- Exhibits were changed yearly to accommodate frequent visitors
- The Museum averaged 30,000 visitors a year
- According to a geologist from Chattanooga who toured the museum, it was “probably one of the top ten Natural Science Museums in the country.”
- John R. Cook Sr. said, “God has given us this museum to show off His creation.”
- The new Cook Museum of Natural Science has an anticipated open date of late 2018
Lookie, Lookie, Lookie, Here comes Cookie!
John Cook and his wife Jo had heard a song with the opening words “Lookie, Lookie, Lookie, Here Comes Cookie.” Around 1960, they decided to adapt it into a jingle for their pest control company. After modifying the words and music, they gave it to an advertising company in Nashville for dressing up.
Although the company attempted to market a new jingle in 1981, public outcry forced them to reconsider and return to the original. Today, throughout the Southeast, it is a well-recognized tune. Listen