Innovative pest-detection system is man’s – and company’s – best friend

By Shelia Watson

At first glance, the concept behind Furniture Rentals Inc. may seem obvious. But whereas renting furniture is not a new idea, the company’s abilities to stay ahead of trends and develop new avenues for serving its clientele are innovative.

As the sister company of Select Corporate Housing, which offers temporary flexible housing for corporate clients and military personnel that are relocating as well as construction companies on long-term projects, Furniture Rentals provides the extras that make a difference.

“We’re not the standard furniture rental company,” says Anthony Thuan, Furniture Rental’s director of operations. “We’re an upscale company that supplies furnishings, appliances, linens, silverwear, you name it. We also add in the cable, power, water, the whole nine yards, so they can get everything on one bill.”

In business since 1971, the company operates in South Carolina and throughout the Southeast. The corporate relocation division has been operating since 1997.

One of the company’s more recent innovations is designed more for safety and health: a bed bug detection system in the form of Tracker, a beagle trained for the job.

Thuan, one of two handlers who oversee Tracker’s care, says the dog was trained by a kennel company that also trains dogs to sniff out bombs, drugs, cadavers, mold and termites, among other things. Tracker was trained specifically to detect bed bugs and their eggs – a skill that is becoming more critical, especially with news of bed bug infestations throughout the country.

On the job for nearly three years, Tracker is a member of the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association and every year goes through rigorous continuing education, along with his two handlers, to maintain his certification.

“We use Tracker for preventive maintenance, but he’s also in service for select clients and in some cases for the general public, such as hotels and pest control companies,” says Thuan. “It’s a way to be one step ahead of the game.”

What makes Tracker more effective than other methods, such as insecticides, is his ability to detect eggs or hone in on one remaining bug – something current products are not able to do.

Thuan says the work Tracker does is actually a game to the dog, and the handlers find ways to play to keep him interested.

“Sometimes he doesn’t find any bugs, which is good, but he needs the motivation,” he says. “So we put out ‘hides’ that he can find so he can get his reward.”

Published in Charleston Regional Business Journal