story by Cindy Reid
photos by Susan DeLoach
Louise Hodges is a true entrepreneur and inventor in the world of eco-friendly pest control. Greenbug, Inc. was started in 2010 by Louise and her husband Dan Hodges to offer pest control alternatives to traditional pesticides. For larger areas of pest control, Louise Hodges developed the Greenbug System which offers automatic pest control through an irrigation system. She continues to grow Greenbug while spreading the word on the benefits of eco-friendly products.
It seems like you have always been here in Beaufort but where are you from originally?
I spent my first years through second grade in Charlotte, NC then moved to Colorado where I lived until I graduated high school. I knew I wanted to return south for college, so one summer I was visiting my grandparents in Greenville, South Carolina and my cousin showed me Clemson University. I saw the tiger paws in the road and that was it! I went to Clemson, graduated with a degree in Industrial Management and met my husband Dan there. My parents had retired to Fripp Island, SC and Dan and I were married on Fripp in 1985.
What was your first business?
By training, I am a landscape designer. Dan and I created Arterra, a landscape design/build company in Charlotte, NC for more than 20 years specializing in landscape renovation on the tail end of home renovation projects. We worked hard and created an excellent reputation creating the ‘fun’ stuff – we built outdoor patios, fireplaces, arbors, ponds etc. Essentially we worked with mature landscapes to create beautiful spaces.
From landscape design to Greenbug- how did that come about?
We moved to Beaufort with the intention of continuing our landscape business here but it was 2008, the economy was not good, we were without many options and had to come up with something else. It didn’t take long before we realized people couldn’t enjoy the outdoors here in the lowcountry because the bugs are terrible! Traditional pesticides are synthetic and toxic so we wanted to create green and natural products that work. So Greenbug was born using an active ingredient of cedar – just like cedar chests and closets where you never see a bug. That is because cedar is deadly to pests but harmless to humans, animals and the environment. Greenbug controls pests like no-see-ems, mosquitoes, ticks, mites, fleas, roaches, fire ants, aphids and other garden pests. Even head lice and bed bugs. All while being non toxic.
So Greenbug was born here in Beaufort?
Yes. By 2010, we had Greenbug up and running. When we first started Greenbug, we were so excited to have safe products that work but realized early on that ‘safe’ wasn’t as important as ’effective.’ While they’ve always been effective, the interest in being “green’ came later. Now people totally get the ‘green’ part of our product. It is a product people want, in fact we have sold more than 100,000 bottles of the personal two ounce Greenbug. It is carried in retail stores from North Carolina to Florida and sold online via the website throughout the US and Canada.
Greenbug Systems Inventor?
The Greenbug System idea blossomed one day while I was watching my lawn sprinklers running. It dawned on me that our water soluble Greenbug formula could be distributed on the entire property via the irrigation system. This was a simple and profound epiphany that took me three years to create an actual working system. It really was a process, and there were many design versions getting the irrigation to communicate with the Greenbug pump. I knew our product and I knew irrigation but I did not know much about electrical systems. It was a different language to me and a steep learning curve.
The first generation was way too complex, earlier models had a variety of issues and finally, the eighth version of the Greenbug System made it. We are currently installing the improved tenth version and recently created the Greenbug Jumbo model to accommodate properties with more than 24 irrigation zones. Currently, there are more than 225 Greenbug Systems from St. Simon’s Island, GA through Awendaw, SC including Palmetto Bluff, Dataw, Hampton Lake, Habersham, and truly most neighborhoods in Beaufort County.
What would you say to women who are interested in your field?
I have always worked in male dominated fields, first in landscaping and now in pest control. But, in the end, gender has nothing to do with ability. If you have an interest in an area and can contribute, go for it!
Did you have a mentor in your business?
No, and I would have loved to have a mentor! A lot of people have taken an interest but nothing quite overlaps with what we do at Greenbug. I guess I am the trailblazer!
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I am allergic to coffee. Strange, but true!
Do you have a personal connection to being in a ‘green’ business?
I lost my Mom and my sister far too young to cancers caused by environmental issues. Once I knew the dangers of synthetic pesticides, I could not not-create Greenbug. I am grateful every day to offer safe alternatives to harsh, unnecessary chemicals! Being ‘green’ is not a fad or crazy talk, it is the only way going into the future.
What’s next for you?
We are seriously considering franchise options for Greenbug. It is important to educate consumers on the dangers of toxic chemicals and branching into new markets is exciting. As far as retirement, I can’t imagine not working as I enjoy being active and engaged.
Introduce us to your family…
My husband Dan, my partner in all things, and our two wonderful daughters, Hunter (24 years old) and Ellen (21 years old.)
What is your favorite place in Beaufort?
My favorite place is out on the river, hanging out on the boat with friends and family. It’s where I get the down time to work on my novel.