JUST four months into their relationship, Rebekah Carral and Sean Quinn both decided to make a major career switch and enter the world of pests and critters.
Together, the couple set up Edinburgh-based Barricade Pest Control in 2017 aged just 22 and 23 respectively.
While Ms Carral’s parents run their own pest control business, Mr Quinn had no experience of the industry whatsoever.
Now, six years later, he is not only an expert but is one of only a few technicians in Scotland to have level three qualifications from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).
“We had an insight into the demand for it and the need for it,” Ms Carral said. “I have obviously grown up with it.”
“Sean was in car sales before, but he was at a point in his life where he didn’t enjoy that anymore. He never even had an insight into pest control before meeting me.
“He was quite keen and committed to just leaving what he was doing and starting something new, but it was completely, new to him.”
As Edinburgh is a city which is “very highly populated with rodents”, the Barricade director emphasised that pests are a problem that any property could face – and it is no longer just a seasonal problem.
“They don’t discriminate,” Ms Carral said. “We go into the cleanest of properties and it doesn’t stop these rodents from coming in.
“There has been a big shift with that over the past couple of years. The populations of mice are not fussy with where they go now.
“It’s just wherever they happen to be they’ll pop in for a nosey, just to see what is available.”
She added: “We are just coming up to six years now and there have been massive changes even within that period of time.
“Once upon a time, using Edinburgh as an example, rodents were very seasonal. We now find that a lot of these pests and mice especially are all year round.”
Their team of technicians, including Mr Quinn, will handle all types of pests and their day-to-day is “really, really varied”.
Ms Carral said: “We do everything. They’ve got a job every hour. Whether that’s a commercial property or private domestic property, gardens, nurseries, you name it, we pretty much deal with it all.”
“There is nothing that is unusual to me now,” Mr Quinn added.
In one property, he even found a mouse in a toaster that the occupants had still been using. However, there is not much that the young couple has not seen.
“Some pest issues might be in quite an alarming state like a German cockroach job where a property has had an infestation that’s risen in significant numbers over a long period of time.”
“Nowadays these things don’t really faze us,” Ms Carral said.
While the rodents do not discriminate, the couple is accustomed to the odd comments along the lines of ‘How can you this for a job’ or perceptions that it is a “dirty” profession.
“The guys are sometimes in situations where it is a bit dirty and the minute, they come home they want to jump in the shower and toss their clothes in the washing machine.
“But in general, you’re not really dealing with what everyone assumes you will be.
“Once the clients are educated on what we do and what the kindest way to do things are, it definitely brings a lot of them around.”
At one point, the duo was one of the youngest couples running a pest control business in Scotland.
The industry itself is changing, the Barricade director said: “There’s a few young companies that have popped up recently.
“We’re finding in the last couple of years that there are a lot of people who have been studying topics to do with animals like zoology and are now stepping into the pest control industry.
“It is becoming really popular for people that really do have an interest in the welfare of animals.
“Hopefully it will take away this stigma that pest controllers are people who enjoy killing and do it in a brutal way as well as all these opinions people have which obviously aren’t the case.”
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