Lonnie Alonso’s story is a true testament to the American Dream. He is one of many Cubans who has not only found a home, but made a difference in the U.S., both in their work and in life in general. Born in Havana, the political turmoil in the country during the early 1960s forced the Alonso family to head to the States, where Lonnie Alonso’s father, Orlando Alonso, hoped to continue in the same line of business – pest management.
Pest management has long been a business that spans borders. Alonso Sr was already well connected with the U.S. pest management industry, even before making the move away from Cuba. During his time as a pest management professional in Cuba, Lonnie’s father had forged a relationship with the owner of Columbus Pest Control, Joe Mooney.
Mooney hired Lonnie’s father when the family arrived in the states. Alonso Sr’s previous industry knowledge allowed him to advance to the position of manager. In 1971 he purchased the entire company, following the passing of Mooney. The purchase was made possible by Mooney’s widow, who agreed to finance the purchase, and Alonso Sr diligently made repayments until the sum was paid off. He was now the owner of a U.S. based pest management business, and the Alonso family had made a success of their move abroad.
Lonnie Alonso followed his father’s footsteps and became a licensed pest professional at the ripe age of 16. It turned out that his early entry to the business was important, as he would end up running the entire company after his father suffered from a health setback. At just 21 years of age, young Lonnie found himself running Columbus Pest Control. Alonso Sr passed away in 2001. Fortunately, he was able to witness first-hand the success Lonnie made of himself, the business and Lonnie’s contributions to the pest management community.
Over the years, Lonnie grew Columbus Pest Control considerably. He saw America as the land of opportunity and he values that opportunity to this day. His company’s success is a true testament to his values. As stated on their website, Columbus Pest Control is dedicated to providing effective and ethical pest control results to both residential and commercial customers.
While the business takes much of Lonnie’s time, he has always managed to make time to give back to the industry. Lonnie developed a keen interest in regulation and government affairs and their effect on our industry. That interest was most likely handed down from his father who was always involved in the Ohio Pest Management Association. Lonnie recalls listening and learning from industry veterans during summer and winter meetings about how the issues at hand would affect their businesses.
From an early age, Lonnie was also involved with the Ohio Pest Management Association. He was eventually assigned to the Government Affairs Committee over twenty years ago and has been on the committee ever since. Lonnie has taken a keen interest at a national level and his work and insight has helped Ohio to maintain a great working relationship with their regulating industry.
Lonnie is also incredibly active within the National Pest Management Association – an organization his father was also a member of, even before leaving Cuba. He was assigned to the NPMA Government Affairs Committee 20 years ago, and still retains his position to this very day. Here, he is able to communicate how proposed laws might affect those in our industry.
Perhaps Lonnie’s biggest honor was being selected to sit on the small business council in Ohio, which focuses on the Common Sense initiative introduced by Governor John Kasich. Only nine small business owners were selected to sit on this council from the entire state of Ohio, which just goes to show how well-respected Lonnie has become not just in his own town, but throughout the entire state. Lonnie is also Past President of the Ohio Pest Control Association, and has also regularly been the Ohio representative at the ASPCRO.
At 61 years of age, you might think that Lonnie plans on slowing down soon, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. As a man with boundless energy and enthusiasm, he throws himself wholeheartedly into every new project and still strives to improve the pest management industry, both in Ohio and from a national level.
He is practical though, and knows that there will be a time when his two sons will have to take over the business, just as he once did. His advice to them is:
“Get involved. Our industry is ever changing whether it be product, regulatory or technology wise and the reality is that we have to stay engaged and involved in all aspects. This means attending and participating in state and national associations to stay on top of the issues at hand. Involvement is critical, we have to be at the table with any regulatory and/or legislative bodies representing our best interests.”
Lonnie’s sons certainly have a good grounding in the business for when they do take over, as both Brian and Andrew Alonso are already involved and active in the Ohio Pest Management Association. They will be the third generation of the family to run the business, which really is a true American success story.