Kunst Reflects on Pest Management’s Past


September 10, 2013

When I was president of the National Pest Control Association — now the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) — in 1995 and 1996, one had to run for each position in a competitive election. It was necessary to visit every state association convention so people would get to know you and hopefully vote for you. The good thing about that structure was you made many lifetime friends. You also became aware of other regions’ problems — and there were many problems for the NPCA back then.

The association was on the verge of bankruptcy and had declining membership. We conducted a survey to help determine what the industry wanted and what members thought the NPCA was doing right and wrong. We took the results and developed a plan to implement many of the members’ suggestions.

First, we needed someone who would help implement the changes. NPCA’s executive board (now called NPMA’s executive committee) terminated the employment of Harvey Gold, executive vice president. I was on the search committee to find Gold’s replacement. In December 1995, I recommended, and the board agreed, to hire Rob Lederer.

The executive board’s first directive was to generate more revenue. We decided to move away from relying so much on dues and instead generate more revenue through educational conferences. That year, we set up and produced the first Leadership Conference, Southern Conference, three educational single-subject conferences and the Eastern Conference. These conferences led to the wonderful array of the programs now available and changed our dues dependency to a more balanced and dependable income flow.

We had poor membership (averaging 1,640 members) because dues were high and we didn’t provide enough value for smaller companies. To change this, we needed to change our governance model and the political power to completely rewrite the constitution and bylaws. We got that power by proving a new concept of membership would work: joint membership. We had five joint state/national members when I became president, but there was no marketing of the program.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of the executive board, we made almost every state association meeting and received key votes on each joining our joint state/national member program. By the end of my presidency, we had 31 joint state/national members, and our overall membership increased 130 percent to 3,764 member companies. During this time, the executive committee met 14 times in Washington, D.C. I don’t remember how many conference calls there were, but I do remember a phone — with a cord — nearly having to be surgically removed from my ear.

That was a difficult year, but everyone worked diligently. By October 1996, we were successful evolving the NPCA into the NPMA. We evolved into a vibrant association, with a fantastically efficient and competent staff delivering the highest quality programs, products and services for our members. I’m proud to have served as president during a time when so many key changes turned obstacles into opportunities. pmp

You can reach Kunst, an NPMA past president, at rlk@fischerenv.com


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