It took the National Pest Control Association (NPCA) more than 60 years to grow to about 1,600 members. But, in October 1995, change agent Bob Kunst took the helm. As president, Kunst and his association brothers fortified NPCA’s joint state membership program and, in the process, tripled membership during his one-year term.
When Kunst took the NPCA presidency, Executive Vice President Harvey Gold had just been terminated and the association was operating in the red. Despite these challenges, Kunst helped grow the association to nearly 4,900 members, from about 1,600, primarily by increasing the number of states participating in the NPCA’s joint state membership program from 5 to 31 states.
“I have a knack for bringing people together,” Kunst noted. “Perhaps I learned it in college: I earned my bachelor’s from Florida State University and my master’s from arch rival University of Florida. I started out uniting Seminoles and Gators. It doesn’t get tougher!”
Kunst’s leadership also helped the NPCA — now the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) — return to solvency. Instead of being a dues-driven association, the NPCA launched a series of mini-conventions, with the Academy being the first. Regional conferences and The Harvard Business Seminar followed.
For serving as the association’s agent of change, as well as 36 years of giving back to the industry and his community, we’re pleased to induct Robert L. Kunst into the Pest Management Professional (PMP) Hall of Fame, Class of 2010.
“Induction into the Hall of Fame marks the pinnacle of success in this industry,” Kunst said. “Having known most of the other inductees, I am both honored and humbled to be in such fine company.”
Little did Kunst know then but in 1974, when he answered a Rollins ad in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, he was answering his true calling.
“All the ad said was ‘Manager-Trainee Wanted, Rollins Inc., Apply in Person,’ and then it listed the address to the company’s Atlanta headquarters,” Kunst recollected. “When I applied, I found out it was for a position with Rollins’ Orkin Division. I accepted the position — and so began my unexpected love affair with this business.”
For seven years, Kunst moved up at Orkin. His last position with Orkin was Central Florida district manager. When he took the post in ’78, the district ranked No. 39 out of 39 Orkin districts in the country. When he left Orkin in 1981, his district was ranked No. 2.
Kunst then served as GM of a Terminix franchise in New Orleans from 1981 to 1986. There he nearly tripled sales and bolstered profit margins from 14 percent to 26.5 percent.
As Kunst grew the franchise’s profits, his income grew — to the point where at the end of 1986 he had enough funds to purchase with a partner a $400,000-a-year pest management business.
Since then, Kunst and company have grown Fischer Environmental Services twenty-fold to an $8-million-per-year business. More important, he says, Fischer Environmental is living up to its name and leading the charge in sustainable, integrated pest management (IPM).
Mandeville, La.-based Fischer was awarded the “Champion of the Environment” distinction by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and was among the first two pest management companies awarded the Gold Standard Level by the U.S. EPA in its Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP).
Kunst has served as president of the Louisiana Pest Management Association and is a four-time past president of the New Orleans Pest Control Association. He has worked on 60-plus national and local committees, and twice was selected NPMA Committee Chairperson of the Year.
He regularly shares his experience with pest management professionals (PMPs) across the globe. He has spoken on PMP topics in most states and 17 countries throughout Asia, Europe and Latin America. He mentors PMPs, by sharing his vast business and technical experience.
In part because of his experience teaching an IPM class at Louisiana State University, Kunst was appointed by two different Louisiana governors to serve two terms on the Louisiana Structural Pest Control Commission (2004-2012).
Kunst has been honored with the FMC Lifetime Achievement Award, Paul K. Adams Award of Excellence and many other accolades.
As busy as he is, Kunst has championed several community causes, including empowering at-risk individuals with the benefits of a college education. He also has been actively involved in a Volunteers of America program that brings together homebound seniors with school-age children for mutual appreciation.
“We’re all called to leave this world a better place,” Kunst concluded. “I’m just trying to do my little part.”