Whether it’s the skills he learned as a junior and college tennis player, as a teaching pro, a bonds trader, or the many crooks, liars, and thieves who he has encountered in the business world, Donald Hodgskin never forgets the lessons he’s learned in life and business.
“I learned how to make people happy,” he says. However, his professional skills aren’t the only thing he never forgets. Right after college, he lost his father and one of his brothers within the same three months. And later, in 1969, he lost another brother who sacrificed his life while fighting in Vietnam. Despite these personal tragedies that hit home, Hodgskin has a great outlook on life.
“Life is too short,” he says. “Never forget where you come from.”
Today, Hodgskin, is the founder and director of Pest Offense, the world’s #1 electronic pest controller. His product is sold in Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and on Amazon.com, among many other places. To date, Pest Offense has sold over 25 million units. But as he details on Episode 7 of the Agents of Innovation podcast, the success he is experiencing today did not come easy.
Previously to founding Pest Offense, Hodgskin worked for a company that sold a similar electronic pest control product. He was hired by that company to sell the product and be its spokesman when they brought the product to the QVC television shopping network. Between 1993-1996, that product sold more than any other product in the country for QVC. But then the pest control company had many internal issues – including the fact that the product had started fires in people’s homes. One day in 1996, while listening to a complaint by a caller to QVC, Don told her and the QVC audience – on live television – not to buy the product. It cost him his job. But moral ethics were his first priority.
“When you tell the truth and stand by it, people don’t like it,” said Hodgskin.
But Hodgskin had other plans. After developing and obtaining a patent for Pest Offense, he landed a contract with QVC’s competitor, the Home Shopping Network. Within six months, it became HSN’s #1 selling product. However, later on, Pest Offense and HSN could not come to an agreement on a new contract. That’s when he created his own infomercials and later took his product to Wal-Mart.
Throughout his life, he has learned that, “The key to success is to always plan to have to regroup,” said Hodgskin. “Live in the moment personally. But in business, look ahead.”
However Hodgskin doesn’t take full credit for his success. He owes much of it to his wife Sandy, who has not only been his partner in life, but also his partner in business. “No one can do anything of this kind of situation on their own,” he said. “I don’t care what anybody says. You’ve got to have a partner. Mine happened to be my wife.”
In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, Hodgksin is also a great philanthropist. While he supports many causes, the one closest to his heart is remembering our nation’s veterans. This December, Hodgskin will host the 13th annual Thank You Veterans Golf Tournament in Winter Springs, Florida (in the greater Orlando area). Losing his brother in Vietnam is something he never forgets, but he also wants to honor veterans who are still with us today.
While Hodgskin remembers our nation’s veterans everyday, he takes one special day each year to thank them by inviting them to play in a golf tournament. The first year, he had 80 golfers. This year, he’ll have 320. The entire round of golf is free for veterans. It’s his way of saying thanks. The day starts with breakfast at the Tuscawilla Country Club, with music and a commemoration to our veterans. Later in the day lunch is provided for these heroes in the community. As Hodgskin said, “If it wasn’t for our veterans, you and I wouldn’t be talking today. That’s how I like to look at it.”
Donald Hodgskin is a man who never forgets. On episode 7 of the Agents of Innovation podcast, he recounts how the accumulation of his life experiences has made him the successful entrepreneur he is today. And he always remembers the people in his life and the heroes of our nation who made the opportunities he has had possible. With his philanthropic endeavors, Don Hodgskin reminds us too, to never forget that success only affords more opportunities to do something above and beyond. But as he advised on the podcast, no matter what you do, “it doesn’t have to be big or small, just try to do anything.”
If you are interested in being a sponsor or volunteer for the Thank You Veterans Golf Tournament, contact Donald Hodgskin at: [email protected].