Genma Stringer Holmes

Owner, Holmes Pest Control
Hermitage, Tenn. Age: 39

The word ?exterminator? generally does not conjure up images of models in fashion magazines, but Genma Stringer Holmes from Tennessee has managed to succeed at both careers. While a professional model, Holmes became interested in extermination because her husband worked in the industry. Her interest deepened even after she researched the sector?it was something she really wanted to do, she says. Though she still models professionally, Holmes is now the owner of Holmes Pest Control and plays a hands-on role in the business. How does she manage both? By applying lessons learned in her childhood, she says.

?I am the oldest of five. I had to learn responsibility early in life. I learned to be entertaining and work at the same time?my mom is a pianist and she exposed us to music and the theater. I incorporated that in my life. Being responsible at an early age in life has helped me juggle two careers at once,? she says.

Holmes holds a bachelor?s degree in marketing and public relations from Tennessee State University. Her pest control company, which she co-owns with her husband, offers commercial and residential pest control and related services. ?Most people do not take pest control as a real career,? she says. This should not be, she argues, because many people, including minorities, operate successfully in the industry. Indeed, it was her determination to prove the naysayers wrong that moved her to form Minorities in Pest Management, a non-profit organization that helps minorities in the industry win national contracts. Though just two years old, the organization already has members in the United States, the Caribbean and Africa. Ironically, her main challenge as a business owner was getting business from other Black organizations.

Holmes advises young people who want to be successful in their careers to stay focused and to look for a mentor who will invest in them. Equally important, ?they need to be willing to listen and to observe,? she says.

Holmes lives with her husband and their three children, Franz, Cornelius and Alexis.