How this former Bollywood actor is digitising legacy B2B pest control business after his father’s passing

Highphill Mathew quit acting in Bollywood and joined the pest control business his father established. After his father’s demise, here’s how Highphill is now moving the 45-year-old legacy company into the digital realm.
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After the successful release of his 2013 movie Sixteen, where he starred alongside Wamiqa Gabbi, Keith Sequeira, Zakir Hussain, and Izabelle Leite, Highphill Mathew was in the thick of the gleamy Bollywood industry until 2018 when his father’s health started deteriorating. 

Suffering from colorectal cancer for the last couple of years, Highphill’s father, Dr Mathew, had built Marco Pest Control Operations in 1977 in Delhi to provide pest control services.

Even during his last days, when he was fighting the hard battle with cancer, he pivoted his business operations in 2020 to come up with a chemical formula for COVID-19 sanitisation.

A PhD in Entomology, Dr Mathews had won prestigious awards like Vijay Ratna Award in 1991, Millennium Award in 1999, Arch of Excellence (Business) Award in 2009 etc, for his services. 

Dr Mathews took his last breath in May 2021. In a conversation with SMBStory, Highphill narrates how he is walking in his father’s footsteps and working towards fulfilling his vision of scaling and strengthening the business. He also talks about his aim to transition to modern ways of working, which is the need of the hour. 

The business

Marco Pest Control was started with the aim to offer pest management services to control mosquitos, cockroaches, termites, bed bugs, and rats but subsequently, it expanded to offer all-encompassing facility management services to organisations.

Highphill says that his father started the business from scratch and single-handedly amassed a staggering base of clients like Honda, High Court of Delhi, Muthoot Finance, St Columbus School, and many more. 

“We have set global standards in pest control and facility management services, and all our chemicals are imported from Germany. We have been striving towards service excellence and have many clients that are with us for over 30 years,” Highphill says.

Highphill Mathew, second-generation entrepreneur, Marco Pest Control Operations

While Highphill denies sharing the revenue details of the company, he says that they are a proprietorship firm operating on a B2B business model, and as of now, employ around 50 people

Marco Pest Control had been working for government projects through contracts and tenders. During the lockdown, the company supported the sanitisation of the premises of High Court judges.

The market

Marco Pest Control Operations has been running in a traditional way for years, and has lacked digital adoption.

“My father was comfortable working in a traditional way and he succeeded too. Now, many businesses run on pump-and-dump model, but for old businesses like ours, we have a face value and that is the legacy now I’m carrying forward,” Highphill tells SMBStory.

The Indian pesticides market reached a value of Rs 232 billion in 2020, and the market is expected to exhibit moderate growth during the next five years. To scale the business, Highphill is planning to leverage tech and reach the B2C space as well, and compete with aggregators like Urban Company.  

“My father worshipped his work and he always used to say, ‘I will retire only once’, and he stayed true to his words. He retired from work only when he took his last breath. I am executing his ideas and visions to make business touch new heights,” Highphill exclaims. 

Challenges and the way ahead

The pest control industry is slow on digital adoption but Highphill says he wants to leverage tech to reach more customers. 

During the lockdown imposed during the first COVID-19 wave, the company saw a slump in the business for two to three months, and found it challenging to operate with offices shut. However, the demand revived as the corporates and institutions sought insect control for their furniture. At the same time, the demand for sanitisation came up and the company pivoted to serve the same. 

Highphill says that for long, the company has catered solely in the B2B space and is now digitising. They plan to move into the consumer space through an application that would help consumers to look for a pest control service provider from the comfort of their homes.

Marco Pest Control Operations is also restructuring to enter the medical consumables sector and plans to launch a hand sanitiser.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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