Darrell Feil of Bakersfield-based Abate-a-Weed talks about adaptability and teamwork
“Everything rises and falls on leadership,” says Darrell Feil, paraphrasing leadership author John Maxwell. “When the challenge escalates, the need for teamwork elevates.” These two principles have helped Darrell Feil successfully navigate through all the challenges the pandemic has thrown at small-business owners.
Feil is the owner of Bakersfield-based Abate-a-Weed, which started out as a small oil field weed control business 56 years ago and remains a family-owned business to this day. In addition to handling weed abatement for such clients as Chevron USA, Aera Energy, and a large utility company, Abate-a-Weed also has a large retail space with a large stock of fertilizer, pesticides, and quality lawn and gardening equipment—and just as important, advice for the do-it-yourselfers.
Abate-a-Weed’s well-trained applicators serve an area stretching from Kings County to San Diego County and number among their clients, school districts, parks, water districts, and agricultural enterprises.
Feil sat down with NFIB California State Director John Kabateck for a 24-minute conversation on a range of topics, including:
- Labor shortages. “I have never seen anything like this in all my years in business, where it’s been so difficult to find labor even with a good salary package.”
- Inflation. “Our pesticide prices have gone up 20% over the last couple of months and we have to pass most of that along to the customer, so it’s definitely impacting our sales. We see a lot more commercial work not happening because they just can’t afford it.”
- Regulations. “It’s more government regulation that has been hurting more than anything,” noting the effect the state’s drive to eliminate gas-powered equipment is having on his sales of generators.
Through it all, Feil has managed to remain solvent, keep his doors open, and is adding employees. “It never got to the point where, wow, we’re going to have to shut our doors, but we were very thankful for the PPP loan that helped us get through that time.”
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