Batzner cockroaches raise funds for Ronald McDonald House

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While Batzner Pest Management, a pest control company based in New Berlin, will celebrate National Customer Service Week from Oct. 1 to Oct. 5 with a staff cookout and office games, the highlight of the week rests with its annual Madagascar Hissing Cockroach race set for Tuesday, Oct. 2.

“It has actually turned out to be our absolute, number one, most looked forward to event of the year,” said Christine Venuti, marketing manager at Batzner Pest Management.

The race, which has inspired friendly competition among staff members for the past 12 years, also inspires a charitable spirit among Batzner employees. With 90 employees and nine teams, the company will make a donation of up to $2,200 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern Wisconsin, partially in honor of the winning team.

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The competition has featured a charitable element for the past four years. While traditionally the donation has been made to the winning team’s charities of choice, this year the company decided ahead of time contribute solely to the Ronald McDonald House.

According to Venuti, one of the company’s customer service employees is a longstanding, dedicated volunteer with the nonprofit. Her personal connection with the Ronald McDonald House, which provides families of ill and injured children a place to stay during their treatment, attached Batzner Pest Management to its mission.

The company also started a Facebook promotion to contribute to its donation. For every “Like” the company’s Facebook page receives from users, Batzner will contribute $1 to the Ronald McDonald House up to $2,000. The promotion runs until Friday, Oct. 5.

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A $200 company donation will be given to the nonprofit in honor of the winning team.

On race day, the cockroaches, which belong to the company for training purposes, will compete on an 8-foot red and white track designed specifically for the event. Venuti designed and constructed the track, herself. She compares the cockroach race to a horse or dog race.

“Scale it down to 8 feet, and then you put the roaches on the track and everyone’s screaming, ‘Go, go, go!'” she said.

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In addition to boosting community outreach, Venuti said the race helps the company show appreciation to its employees for their continued customer service efforts.

“They really are out there helping our customers,” Venuti said. “They know that they’re kind of the guardian protectors of health and sanitation for our communication because people would get sick if we had too many pests running around.”

“The whole point of the race is to really help build morale within our organization and to show appreciation,” she said.

The race, open to the public, is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 1:30 p.m. at Batzner Pest Management’s headquarters, 16948 W. Victor Road in New Berlin. For more information, visit

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