Cook’s Pest Control Logo Cook’s Pest Control is a pest and termite extermination company headquartered in Decatur, Morgan County. It was founded in 1928 as a termite control company by John L. Cook. Since then, the company has grown to become one of the largest pest-control firms in the southeastern United States with branches in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. In 2001, the company was awarded the Better Business Bureau’s National Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics. Cook’s is one of only two pest-control companies to win this award.
John Lewis Cook founded the North Alabama Termite Company in 1928 as one of the first termite-control companies in the Southeast. The family was from Athens, Limestone County. Cook created many of his own tools and techniques, as there were no formal standards for him to follow in that era. John Lewis Cook Cook sold contracts to his customers that guaranteed regular maintenance and treatments over a defined time period, setting a standard practice that continues. John R. Cook, John L. Cook’s son, maintained this service model after he took over the family business in 1950. John R. Cook had graduated from high school in 1943 and then enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After his discharge, he studied architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. John L. Cook died three months before his son graduated in 1950. The younger Cook decided to return to Alabama with his wife Jo and take control of the family business and expand it to include other pest control services besides termite treatments. In 1952, the company adopted the additional name “Cook’s Pest Control” to reflect this expanded business, and the North Alabama Termite Company name was gradually phased out.
Cook became well known for his innovative and memorable advertising campaigns. The company mascot, Cookie the Cop, is recognized throughout the Southeast. The character was based on the host of a popular children’s television show broadcast by a local Huntsville station sponsored by Cook’s. A Birmingham graphic artist designed the mascot and logo that are still used by the company. The advertising jingle “Lookie lookie lookie, here comes Cookie” is another well-known marketing catchphrase associated with the company. In the 1960s, John and Jo modified a song from an old movie into a distinctive jingle. The jingle was further embellished by a Nashville advertising agency and remains a staple of the company’s advertising up to the present day. Cook also engaged the company in many other memorable advertising campaigns, such as using vintage vehicles to promote the business, holding raffles at county fairs and festivals, and participating in parades with employees dressed as Keystone Cops.
Cook Family Members Cook also introduced many technological innovations to the pest-control business. He installed two-way radios in his company’s vehicles in 1959 so they could communicate more effectively with the head office, which was a first for the company. In 1968, Cook adopted computerized administration at his central office in Decatur. Over the decades, Cook worked with many different companies to develop new tools and techniques for pest control. Cook’s Pest Control successfully collaborated with the General Motors Corporation to design a customized version of its Chevrolet Colorado pick-up truck for use by Cook’s technicians. Cook also emphasized the importance of training for his employees and had constructed a large collection of entomological specimens for use in his employee training program. These specimens later became the foundation of the Cook Museum of Natural Science in Decatur. Cook emphasized high-quality service rather than cut-rate prices in his business strategy. John Cook advocated the same business model to other members of the professional pest-control community. He was an active and respected member of the National Pest Management Association and the Alabama Pest Control Association throughout his career.
John R. Cook died in 2009 after a lengthy battle with cancer. John Cook Jr. currently serves as chairman of the board of directors. His son, Brian Cook, was named president and CEO in 2017. Today, Cook’s has approximately 36 branches and 1,750 full-time employees in six states in the Southeast. The company generated sales of $152 million in 2016, making it the fifth-largest pest and termite control company in the nation. Ownership of Cook’s Pest Control remains with the Cook family.