Kay Dickinson says the winning formula is straightforward: Take care of your customers, and they’ll take care of you.

“If they’ve got a problem, we’ve got a problem,” is how she puts it.

Dickinson Exterminating Service, at 705 E. 23rd St. in Independence, has gone up against the bigger players in the business for decades. Dickinson and her late husband, Bob, started the company 50 years ago this month.

The company deals with just about any insect (other than bedbugs) as well as mice. Termites are the No. 1 problem around here.

“Sooner or later, they’re going to get hungry enough and they’re going to come up and eat your wood,” Dickinson said.

The company’s focus is on service and customer care. Not much high-end marketing, but plenty of word of mouth. Dickinson said she’s deeply thankful to her customers.

“We’re pretty old school, and that’s what works,” says Dickinson’s daughter, Robbie Womack. She and her husband, Robert, are the company’s next generation.

Dickinson doesn’t at all mind taking on the national competitors with household names.

“Love to bid against them,” she said.

The company’s first location was at 1325 W. Lexington, near the old Bridge Cafe. It’s been on 23rd Street for 31 years.

“When we first came up here, the only way we could get business was to out and knock on doors,” she said. Over time, the business grew, and now steady clients keep things humming.

“Our customers are fantastic. They really are,” says Womack. “I think it’s in how you treat people.”