Published: June 11, 2018
BY RICK GARRICK
Green and Gone Pest Solutions owner Kaija Saarinen enjoys travelling wherever her services are needed across the northwest, including Kenora, Dryden, Red Lake and the fly-in communities.
She was recently recognized with the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award at the 2018 Influential Women of Northern Ontario Awards on May 31 in Thunder Bay.
“It’s just really based on need,” says Saarinen, whose business is based in Keewatin. “It’s just where people need me, I go. I do some flying up north as well. Wherever people need me, I’m very happy to go service because we are an under-serviced area.”
Saarinen started up her business about two years ago after moving back to the northwest from Alberta, where she was employed in the pest control field.
“When I moved back to northwestern Ontario a few years ago, there was nothing in our area,” Saarinen says. “I couldn’t find a job in pest control, so I kind of had to make my own.” Saarinen says the community has been “so supportive” of her business.
“Everyone really loves supporting local,” Saarinen says. “They know you’ve got to help out your fellow business owners if you want to keep your communities growing and happy and create those jobs to keep people there.”
Saarinen currently operates the business on her own, but she plans to hire an employee next year. “I’m very crazy busy,” Saarinen says. “But I think by next summer I will definitely have to hire someone to help me out.”
Saarinen says her calls for service are usually an emergency for the client. “It depends on what it is, but normally if people are finding mice or bedbugs or ants they are upset and they want to get it taken care of right away,” Saarinen says. “I just try and schedule it to be there as soon as possible to help them out. We can usually do an inspection and treatment all in the same day instead of spacing it out too much.”
Saarinen usually communicates with her clients by phone or e-mail to identify which pest is involved before travelling to their business or home. Her business is located online at:www.greenandgone.ca. “I do a lot of education work and a lot of e-mailing or calling my clients to tell them what to expect,” Saarinen says. “Having the online platform really helps me to do my job.”
Saarinen was one of six women from across northwestern Ontario who were recognized with the awards, which are an initiative of Northern Ontario Business in Sudbury.
Six other award recipients from northeastern Ontario were previously honoured on May 28 in Sudbury.
“My sales definitely increased quite a bit in my second year,” Saarinen says. “I do a lot of work with local hotels and restaurants, which is steady work all year round. But the summer is my busy time — we get our cottagers back and all of our seasonal people that live there. We have all the wasps and ants and all the fun stuff. In the wintertime I am doing all the carpenter ants and mice and bedbugs.”
The other award recipients from northwestern Ontario were: Executive of the Year, Colleen Kjellman, executive director of Brass Bell Family Resource Centre in Nipigon; Entrepreneur of the Year, Anne Marie Calonego, owner of Prime Gelato in Thunder Bay; Aboriginal Leadership, Rosie Mosquito, executive director of Oshki-Pimache-O-Win The Wenjack Education Institute in Thunder Bay; Influential Community Trailblazer, Donna Gilhooly, from Thunder Bay; and Tradeswoman of the Year, Susan Temple, utility services representative with Union Gas in Murillo.