Greg Baumann’s career can be summed up in three activities — sharing technical expertise, food protection and leadership. It’s his work at Rollins Inc., with the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and in the food industry that have earned him a nod into the 2013 Pest Management Professional (PMP) Hall of Fame.
Vice president of training and technical services for Rollins, Baumann is responsible for managing training and technical aspects of the company, including state and company educational strategies and technical and research efforts globally. He leads a staff of more than 20 professionals in training, development and science, based at the Rollins Learning Center in Atlanta. Prior to his current role, he served as a Rollins technical services director, focused on marketing initiatives. Baumann is a recipient of the Rollins President’s Award for his work on bed bug programs.
“Induction into the PMP Hall of Fame is quite an honor,” he said. “I never try to do things for self recognition, but rather for the success of our company and, whenever possible, the industry. My first reaction was ‘There are many other deserving recipients, but I’m very honored.’”
Training is evolving
Baumann — who was raised in Palmyra, Pa., and now lives in Atlanta with wife Jill and sons Tony, Drew and Reid — reflected on how industry training throughout the years has evolved and become more professional.
“We, as an industry, used to focus only on what we had to do for state requirements,” he said. “Now we have to be forward thinking and try to predict where we’ll be five years and beyond.
“We’ve shifted from getting a ticket punched for completing training to learning about new technology. PMPs [pest management professionals] have many more tools nowadays,” Baumann said. “Web-based training, for example, is the wave of the future. It isn’t a gimmick or a passing fad. It’s a need based on employees who use web-enabled devices for almost everything they do. The industry is hiring talented people who are connected by smartphones regardless of their education, so companies need to make sure their service models are consistent with the younger generation.”
At Rollins, for example, management is committed to having some of the best-trained PMPs in the field, and at the same time being respectful of technicians’ time because time out of the field is at a premium.
“The days of repetitive technical talks about biology are over,” said the degreed chemist. “We need to focus on what’s important to our customers and deliver training efficiently and effectively.”
An industry challenge
Relationships with customers also have evolved.
“We’re business people, not exterminators,” Baumann said. “Years ago, it was possible to get into the business with $25 and a sprayer. Now the industry is much more sophisticated and professional. Customers have become more savvy. They research pests and products before technicians arrive. Customers are involved and commonly partner to prevent pests. As a result, we’re offering our expertise and knowledge, not just applying products.”
A challenge for the industry is to make sure it disseminates information about new technology to the market quickly. Bed bug information is an example. The industry has communicated best management practices immediately to get word out in the field. The information also must stay current based on the latest research.
Baumann — who was vice president and senior scientist, technical director and manager of government affairs for the NPMA for 16 years — views the industry in broad terms.
“Our job is to solve customers’ problems,” he said. “That’s what I love most about the industry. We keep homes and businesses pest free, and thus we’re preventing disease.”
Baumann would like to see the industry tap into the about 75 percent of the American population that doesn’t use professional pest management services.
“We just can’t exchange customers back and forth,” he said. “We need to move the needle more. We must do more than rely on the NPMA and Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA) to expand markets. We all need to pick up the flag and run with it, as partners, and drive home the value of pest management.”
While at the NPMA, Baumann:
Created a host of educational materials for PMPs.
Developed and implemented successful strategies, which moved the Wood Destroying Insect/
Wood Destroying Organism forms from government control to industry control.
Focused on helping members improve their businesses’ bottom lines.
Delivered the industry’s message to the public through multiple media events with two of the most memorable being on the Today Show.
Created strategies to help companies more easily handle mergers and acquisitions.
Increased public recognition and respect for the industry.
Helped PMPs create and execute business strategies, using technical methods, as consumer demands shifted.
Developed global food industry standards that made it easier for PMPs to take on and maintain food plants.
Before the NPMA, Baumann worked in food protection and quality assurance for Hershey Foods Corp., where he received the Award for Outstanding Service to Quality, one of eight recipients since 1903. His work at Hershey led to a career of regulatory focus.
A temporary advisor to the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO), he co-authored several chapters in a pest management book published by the WHO.
“It’s not me,” he said. “It’s all the people who’ve helped shape my capabilities. I’ve had good mentors such as Harry Katz, the folks in the industry too numerous to mention, and the management and employees at Rollins. They’ve all made my job easier. Hopefully, I can repay people what has been so freely given to me.”