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Robiar Smith shares her experience as a Black woman in pest control

Robiar Smith of R.B. Pest Solutions (Photo credit: Charan Ingram)

Robiar Smith, the founder and owner of R.B. Pest Solutions on Chicago’s South Side, is driven by legacy. The former IT professor and consultant has taken her training in the corporate world and created a business that honors her family and blazes a trail for other Black women. Rolling out spoke with Smith about why she started her business and her challenges as a Black woman running a business in a male-dominated field.

Why did you start your business?

It truly was an idea from my dad that I turned into a reality. Prior to 2016, I worked in the IT field and one of my positions was an IT and business professor at many of the universities in Chicago. One day during the lecture, I was going over business plans, when I had an out-of-body experience. I realized that I really knew my stuff and that I should keep taking this test until I passed it. Each time I failed, passing the IDPH [Illinois Department of Public Health] exam became my personal goal. I finally passed in August 2016, and R.B. was born in my living room.

How important is the idea of creating a legacy when it comes to your business?

It’s everything. My mom and dad’s legacy, their hard work and hustle are the fuel that keeps me going every day. My parents didn’t have any sons, just me and my older sister, so it’s important to me to have their names ring for generations throughout the pest control industry. My dad is still the hardest-working man I know. He didn’t have a seat at the table prior to my starting R.B., so I get a chance to stand on his shoulders with every deal I close.

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