Business Is Picking Up is the one hundred-ninety-fourth episode of King of the Hill. It was first aired on March 19, 2006. The episode was written by Dan Sterling, and directed by Matt Engstrom. Johhny Knoxville guest stars as the voice of Peter Sterling.
It's Career Day at Tom Landry Middle School, and the students are signing up with local businesspeople to do a week of job shadowing. Hank has high hopes of having Bobby shadow him at Strickland Propane. However, Bobby fails to sign up in time, and Hank ends up getting Joseph Gribble as his shadow. Bobby ends up with Peter Sterling of Earth Cleaners, which removes animal waste ("90% dog, 10% other") and cleans out Port-a-Potties.
As the week progresses, Hank is going to great lengths to teach Joseph the principles of customer service a. la. Strickland Propane. Joseph, however, shows little interest in learning anything, much to the consternation of Dale. Dale sees the job shadowing as vital to the Gribble family's financial future: Nancy's market value as a TV newsperson is bound to fall someday, and Joseph needs to learn a trade so he'll be able to pick up the slack.
In the meantime, and on the flip side, Bobby is having a great time working with Peter Sterling, riding with him all over town on his four-wheel ATV and using the pooper-scooper vacuum. While Hank's business model is built around providing excellent customer service providing a product that people need or want, Peter's model is to find something that no one else wants to do, and then do it. Hank, however, disapproves of Bobby working for such a business because it's not his "pwecious pwopane". Peter understands that Hank is giving Bobby a hard time, and invites the entire Hill family for a barbeque at his home.
Hank and Peggy are flabberghasted at the Sterling residence, as Peter lives in a nice manor with luxuries such as high definition wall TVs, a pool table, pinball machines and arcade games, and he also has a beautiful wife named Sara. Hank is astonished that Earth Cleaners has no competition, rocksteady business and low overhead, allowing for such a successful spread, and it makes it even harder for him to discourage Bobby. Despite Peter commending Peggy and Hank on how Bobby is hardworking, dependable and will go far in life, the Hills are disgusted with the manure cleaning business.
To Hank's relief, the job shadowing week finally ends, but Bobby announces that he's starting his own business of removing vomit, and he's already lined up the Delta Sigma Tau fraternity at Arlen Community College to be a regular customer. Bobby sets up a table at the college to promote his business (called "Beverly Hills Vomit"), and Hank checks on him just as Peter comes by while working on a Port-a-Potty cleaning job at the college. To Peter's horror, he is spotted by Jimmy Wichard and two of his friends, who decide to pick on Peter ("It's the poo guy! Get him!"). Peter says to Hank and Bobby that in his job, it's inevitable that some people want to beat him up, and Jimmy and his buddies do it all the time.
In actuality, the beating was staged by Peter, who had earlier met with Hank. Hank was frenzied in struggling with himself about how for years he had been adamant that Bobby get serious about work, and now that Bobby wants to work, only for himself in an unpopular idea. Peter had said he cannot control Bobby's life (and also challenged Hank if he had personal issue with Earth Cleaners), to which Hank saves face by saying that Bobby is the kind of kid who will get picked on, where as Peter could pull off an unorthodox enterprise like Earth Cleaners as he is a confident, good-looking man. Finally seeing eye-to-eye with Hank's concerns, Peter hired Jimmy Wichard to stage a beating in order to dissuade Bobby from his vomit business. However, true to Jimmy's stupidity, he and his gang go beyond roughing up Peter; locking him in a Port-a-John then shoving it downhill.
The episode ends with Bobby deciding not to go forward with his vomit cleaning service, to Hank's relief. Bobby said he has been thinking about Peter's idea of doing jobs that no one else does, and looking for untapped markets he could exploit. Hank is fine with Bobby's idea with that, as it does not personally disgust him. Hank also thanks Bobby for visiting Peter in the hospital, who had suffered "a couple of broken bones and some scrapes" as a result of Jimmy's attack.
- The stinger quote from this episode is not a quote, but the sound of dog defecation being sucked into Bobby's vaccuum.