LOS GATOS − When Janet Thrasher started a termite control business with her husband, Duff, in 1979, she didn’t know what the future would hold. More than 30 years later, following both unexpected success and unforeseeable tragedy, she looks back on what can ultimately be called a triumph in the face of adversity. “After Duff and I got married, we moved from Southern California to Santa Clara, where he started working for a local termite company,” she recounts. “At the young age of 23, we decided to take the plunge and start our own business. We started out small, but the business grew, and in 1987, we moved from Santa Clara to Los Gatos.”
In 2000, just when life seemed to have fallen into a rhythm of relative predictability, the unimaginable struck: Duff died suddenly of a heart attack, leaving Janet with a household and a business to maintain. “At that point, I had three teenagers and 15 employees, and I wasn’t sure what to do next,” she says. “Overnight, I went from sharing the business workload to being the sole owner. Suddenly, I had to make all the decisions and learn more about termites, ants, bees, and fleas than I ever thought I would. When I was at my lowest, my family, my staff and even other pest control operators stepped in to help.”
After that initial boost of support, Janet threw herself into becoming a full-fledged pest control operator, incorporating the business and obtaining her operator’s license with the Structural Pest Control Board. Fifteen years later, she has established herself as a leading figure in the industry. In addition to being the chairperson and district director of Santa Clara Valley Pest Control Operators of California (PCOC), she serves on the Board of Directors for Peacock Insurance and is a member of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). She also led Thrasher Termite & Pest Control to earn the QualityPro designation for excellence in pest management, as well as the distinction of being named the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS Affiliate of the Year in 2011.
Looking back, Janet expresses her gratitude for both her immediate and business families and the roles they played in her company’s success. “Since 2000, we’ve tripled in size and opened a second branch in San Diego, which is managed by my son, Garrett,” she says. “I continue to be inspired by the collective support of my family, employees and colleagues. There are a lot of people here whom I care about very much, and I’m proud of our business and our ability to stay successful.”
Outside of work, Janet spends the bulk of her time with family. “I enjoy playing golf and exercising, but my biggest hobby these days is spending time with my grandchildren,” she says. “Of course, I also have my kids, my parents, my two older brothers and their families, and my husband’s family, whom I’ve managed to stay close with over the years.” Additionally, Janet enjoys traveling and spending time with friends. “I like taking road trips to Lake Tahoe and Monterey Bay, and I try to get to Hawaii a couple of times a year. I also attend an annual get-together in Palm Springs with 10 of my high school girlfriends, which is always fun.”
In addition to her more leisurely pastimes, Janet maintains an active involvement in her local community. “After Duff passed away, our family founded the Duff Thrasher Memorial Youth Fund,” she explains. “We hold an annual golf tournament fundraiser that brings in about $10,000, all of which is earmarked for things that benefit the youth in our community.”
When asked what she’d do if she could retire tomorrow, Janet says she’d continue to stay active. “I would exercise every day and golf more often…maybe take some golf vacations. I’d also help my kids a bit more with their little ones. As much as I want to be available for them, sometimes I’m just too busy, so I’d like to have more flexibility for that.”