Jeff and Michele Sommers have been running their very own architecture practice in Chicago since 2004, Square Root Architecture + Design. There, they develop ways for people to live in sustainable and affordable housing. Their efforts to create a greener more economical options for residents in the area cater to the environmentally conscious practices Mosquito Joe offers, too. Now that they’re living in Springfield, they are bringing Central Illinois a one-of-a-kind pest control service with them. The two just celebrated their one-year anniversary as Mosquito Joe franchisees this May, too.
Can you tell me a little more about your backgrounds?
Jeff and I have been self-employed for 12 years now. Jeff’s an architect in Chicago and we’ve been running out own practice since 2004, Square Root Architecture + Design. There, we look for sustainable, residential options for housing. Jeff was actually named one of Curved Magazine’s eight groundbreaking architects. We built the first pre-fabricated, single-family home and the first in Chicago; it was constructed to maximize sustainability and affordability.
I have a varied background with a master’s degree in human resources from Loyola University. I was in sales for quite some time, too. The two go hand-in-hand, really. I was working in the corporate side of things which is complementary to what I do now. I do the development side of things at Square Root and work with clients and this translates perfectly with what we see out of Mosquito Joe. While Jeff’s background is in detail and design, mine is in organization and business structure. We love being active and outdoors; hiking, biking and that’s one of the things that made us join Mosquito Joe. We were being attacked by mosquitoes when we moved back to Springfield two-and-a-half years ago. I think adding a seasonal business like this will help people’s quality of life around here.
I grew up in Springfield and attended Ursuline Academy in town. We have two boys, ages 12 and 9. We wanted to move back to my home even while Jeff still has a lot of projects and work in Chicago. Jeff grew up in Maine and went to college in Michigan before he moved to Chicago where we met.
We’re getting a good response from locals interested in our business and no one in our area – no one in Central Illinois – does anything like this.
Why did you choose to become a franchisee with Mosquito Joe? How did you learn about the brand?
I heard about Mosquito Joe through LinkedIn, actually, right after we moved to Springfield. I was laid off and we were relocating, but I was intrigued, just busy at the time. The seasonal part of the business model interested me. I could still be able to keep up with my kids for at least part of the year. I plan to work in the business for 5 to 10 years before until it’s possible we can run remotely, eventually.
Do you provide any interesting services or work with any other local businesses, organizations, or prominent individuals in the community?
We’re pretty big into working with our community, but we plan to partner with local charities down the road. We currently help out with United Way. We want to help preserve the city core and contribute to a livable, walkable downtown. We’re involved with all that stuff to help revitalize downtown.