Rollins, which began as a radio station in 1948, has grown into a diversified company with 400 locations, more than 7,800 employees, and annual revenues of more than $750.9 million as of 2004. The parent company of several businesses, Rollins is best known as the owner of Orkin, an exterminating company with offices nationwide.
O. Wayne Rollins and his brother, John Rollins, were born and raised near Ringgold. As an adult, John Rollins moved to Delaware, where he had a car dealership. Wayne Rollins joined his brother in Delaware, and in 1948 they purchased the radio station WRAD in Radford, Virginia. The business grew quickly, and they renamed their company Rollins Broadcasting. One of the first companies to create programming for specific community markets, Rollins Broadcasting expanded into the television industry in 1956.
Wayne Rollins took the company public in 1961 and three years later purchased the Atlanta-based Orkin Exterminating Company for $62.4 million, nearly seven times Rollins Broadcasting’s revenues of $9.1 million. The transaction stands as the first recorded leveraged buyout in U.S. history. Orkin, named for founder Otto Orkin, had 170 branch offices in the South, Midwest, and West. To reflect the new diversification, the Rollins Broadcasting board of directors changed the company name to Rollins.
In 1967 the Rollins home office moved from Delaware to the Orkin headquarters in Atlanta. The company’s stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) the following year. R. Randall Rollins and Gary W. Rollins, sons of Wayne Rollins, took leading roles in the company in the mid-1970s as it acquired or started numerous other businesses. During this time Orkin increased its residential and commercial customer base by more than 400 percent.
After the Orkin purchase Rollins continued to diversify its business interests. It owned and operated companies in the fields of residential security, lawn care, maid services, landscaping, and wall-covering distribution. Still involved in broadcasting, Rollins entered the outdoor advertising and cable television markets. The media division proved successful and, along with the oil- and gas-field branch, was spun off to shareholders in 1984, creating two new NYSE companies, Rollins Communications and RPC Energy Services, Incorporated.
Orkin remains the company’s priority, however. As of 2005 Orkin is one of the largest exterminating companies in the world, and the Orkin Man has become a widely recognized advertising symbol in the United States. Orkin continues to receive national recognition for its training program, which was included on Training magazine’s 2003 and 2005 lists of the nation’s top 100 such programs. Additionally, Rollins supports Orkin’s interest in education by sponsoring the O. Orkin Insect Zoo at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.; the Orkin’s Children’s Zoo at Zoo Atlanta; and numerous scholarship programs.