Bill Turk created his business and patented technology – thermal acoustical pest control insulation (TAP®) –because of opportunities unique to Georgia, including his work with the Gainesville office of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (UGA SBDC).
Turk launched his transformative, multi-million-dollar pest control and insulation distribution business – Pest Control Insulation, LLC – in the 100-year-old shed behind his home in Homer, Georgia, eventually moving it to Lula in 2012. He started out as a poultry farmer in Banks County. As a volunteer for the Chestatee Chattahoochee Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D), he eventually found himself running a paper recycling plant that developed animal bedding made from wastepaper for poultry houses.
“The RC&D was providing grants to help entities that could divert paper waste from landfills,” he said. “However, the plant required repairs and upgrades so steep that the RC&D asked me to help sell it.”
Turk helped sell the plant, earning patent rights to the animal bedding. He worked with Orkin Pest Control to develop TAP®, the new insulation product, registered it as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency, and got it patented. In 2001, he helped Orkin roll out TAP® and its attic capping program through a majority of Orkin’s 450+ branches across the U.S.
“We quickly got so many orders that I needed more money to buy bags and make more product, but credit and financing became a big challenge,” Turk said. “So, I went to the UGA SBDC. They gave me help with our business package for an SBA loan, which was approved, along with a lot of good marketing tips that helped us grow.”
Pest Control Insulation now contracts with 16 manufacturing plants across the U.S., and its products are sold by 40 of the top pest control companies in the country. The business has grown from a revenue of $200,000 in its first year to over $20 million annually.
During the last few years, Patrick Fulbright, area director of UGA SBDC in Gainesville, helped Turk navigate the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan application, develop a financing package for further expansion and navigate opportunities to expand TAP® internationally.
A New (Tallulah) Adventure
The UGA SBDC and Fulbright are also working with Turk on his newest venture, Tallulah Adventures in Tallulah Falls.
“I had a stroke in 2017 and had to make some lifestyle changes, take some time out,” Turk said. “When I was ready to reengage, my very capable COO told me they didn’t really need me. He asked me, ‘why don’t you find something else to do?’ I took him to heart and decided to look for something in Tallulah Falls, an area I love.”
Turk focused on a long-abandoned building on the main road leading through the town. He envisioned an outdoor adventure center with related retail and a café that would benefit both locals and visitors to Tallulah Gorge State Park. After working on three different bids with three different mayors and the Downtown Development Authority, he bought the building in 2021 and turned to the UGA SBDC again for help.
“Patrick helped a lot in putting the business plan and numbers together,” Turk said. “But he really made it a go when he suggested we host a business expo. We needed a retailer to come in and take the upstairs and a restaurant downstairs. The expo helped us focus on our vision and present what we were trying to do for other local businesses.”
“It came off better than we’d anticipated,” Fulbright said.
Wander North Georgia, a popular downtown Clayton outfitter, committed to the upstairs space, allowing Turk to start renovations. Tallulah Adventures opened in July 2022 with Wander North Georgia, a 2,000-square-foot pavilion, 20,000-square-foot adventure zone, stage, climbing wall and restaurant. Turk’s daughter, Spencer, moved from Colorado to run day-to-day operations and other family members, including Turk, work there with up to 12 part-time staff on busy days. Parks continues to advise on digital marketing.
A graduate of the UGA SBDC’s GrowSmart program, Turk has served as a spokesperson for its StartSmart program and continues to provide insight for the organization.
“Bill is a good friend of the SBDC,” Fulbright said. “He’s already come to us with another good idea.”
For More Information: University of Georgia SBDC | (706) 542-2762