Paul K. Adams was among the first researchers to decide for the U.S. Army how to use and apply DDT during World War II, as well as to work with chlordane.
He wrote the first minimum termite treatment standards for the State of Louisiana — the first state to develop and implement such guidelines.
Adams also re-established the Louisiana Pest Control Association — now named the Louisiana Pest Management Association (LPMA) — in 1968 and stayed treasurer of the group until his death. He also served on the Louisiana Structural Pest Control Commission for 28 years.
As president of the National Pest Control Association — now named the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) — the year Rachel Carson’s controversial “Silent Spring” came out, Adams traveled the U.S., defending the industry’s people and products as protectors of public health and the environment. He also served as the association’s Political Action Committee (PAC) chairman.
As the owner of a successful business, Adams Pest Control, in Alexandria, La., Adams was a shining example of giving back to his associates and the community. He established the first Boys Club and Girls Club in Alexandria, and accordingly received the Silver Medallion award from the U.S. Congress for his service to children.
For these and myriad other significant contributions to the industry, environment and his fellow man, Paul K. Adams is a posthumous inductee into the Pest Management Professional (PMP) Hall of Fame, Class of 2010.
“Paul Adams demonstrated true leadership through his years of dedicated service to the LPMA and NPMA, and served his home community in numerous civic organization and activities, and donated generously of his time, talent and treasure to the betterment of the pest management profession,” said Allen Fugler, director of the Florida Pest Management Association and former executive director of Louisiana Pest Control Association. “His legacy is clearly seen in the people he touched and causes he championed.”
Many changes took place in the pest management industry during the years Adams was in business — most of them for the better. He has been recognized as having been in the forefront in bringing about several of those positive changes.
“Paul Adams was my friend,” said Bob Kunst, owner of Fischer Environmental Services and fellow inductee into the PMP Hall of Fame, Class of 2010. “ He helped me many times when he did not even know it. I listened to him and learned a great deal about people and pest management.
“Paul was the first in his family to go to college,” Kunst added. “Once, when Paul was not doing well in school, he received a letter from his father that said it was OK if school did not work out because Mary missed him and he was welcome home. Mary was the plow mule.”
Paul redoubled his efforts and graduated from college.
“After hearing this story, whenever things looked tough for me, I knew it was simply because I really had not known what tough was, and I stopped feeling sorry for myself and got on with the job at hand,” Kunst said.
Immediately after graduation, he was hired by the U.S. Public Health Service to do mosquito control work. Soon afterward, however, Adams joined the Army, where he was shipped to Central America as an instructor and a research entomologist with the Army School of Malariology. He pursued more mosquito control work as part of a training program for malaria control units to be sent into areas in the Pacific. While there, he received a direct commission as an Army Entomologist and did much of the early research with DDT prior to its use in aerial applications over Okinawa.
Adams’ nearly 40 months in the military gave him valuable practical experience in the field of pesticide research and insect and rodent control. It also offered him the unusual opportunity to work on research projects with the authors of some of his college textbooks.
The Army later assigned him to Camp Livingston, near Alexandria. While stationed there, he met his wife, Betty, and decided Alexandria is where he wanted to stay. Fresh out of the Army after World War II, he tried to set up a pest control department with a local feed and seed store, but was unable to work out an acceptable agreement.
Having already met all necessary requirements to become a licensed entomologist — and short of funds — Adams had no other choice but to go to work in pest management. Mustering $300 from his military pay, and a $5,600 loan from a bank in his hometown of De Kalb, Miss., Adams founded Adams Pest Control in March 1946.
Simply the Best
Always an innovator in the field of employer-employee relations, Adams placed extreme importance on screening, selecting and training employees. His business model of hiring self-motivated technicians who know how to communicate and follow the Golden Rule guaranteed success.
“Mr. Adams was an excellent motivator who insisted you give your best,” said Culby Smith, who was hired by him in 1957 and still works as a technician for Adams Pest Control.
In 1953, Adams established a profit-sharing plan for his employees — one of the first ever for small business. This, he believed, gave his people long-term security and provided an incentive for longevity with the company.
Adams’ work ethic was beyond reproach, as well as his way of relating to co-workers and customers. When he came to me in 1992 about buying his business, it was one of the easiest and best business decisions of my life.
Adams always strove to improve the pest management industry. In 1996, the National Pest Control Association awarded him its first Pinnacle Award. Winner of numerous other accolades, Adams has an endowed professorship of urban entomology in his name at Louisiana State University.
Perhaps summing it up best, when the LPMA established the Paul K. Adams Award of Excellence, Adams was called the “Father of Modern Pest Control in the State of Louisiana.”