Roadtrip Roundup: 2015 FPMA Pest & Lawn Care Expo/PestPac User Conference


February 3, 2015

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — The 2015 Florida Pest Management Association (FPMA) Pest & Lawn Care Expo, an annual event, was held in conjunction with Marathon Data Systems’ PestPac User Conference, Jan. 19–23. Marathon holds the PestPac User Conference on both coasts, and this year Pest Management Professional (PMP) attended the East Coast event in Florida.

The joint partnership between the state organization and the company marks an industry first, according to Chris Sullens, president and CEO of Marathon Data Systems.

The Expo offered a set of robust educational tracks for both pest and lawn care professionals. In addition to the Jan. 19 fumigation track, which focused on the latest fumigation concepts and technology, the Expo also offered tracks on termites, presented by Dr. Phil Koehler, professor of entomology at the University of Florida and D.R. Sapp, president of the FPMA. The FPMA’s educational tracks continued throughout the week with consecutive business-related sessions covering a wide range of topics, including legal issues, human resources, marketing and management.

The rest of the week’s sessions were staggered to accommodate attendees who wanted to maximize their time at the event and attend both the PestPac training classes as well as the FPMA’s general educational events.

Jan. 21’s events kicked off with a keynote address by Sullens, during which he previewed Marathon’s year ahead and recognized the company’s continual growth – in size, revenue and number of employees — to a standing-room-only crowd. He also hinted at some of Marathon’s plans for 2015, which includes developing the next generation of core products.

“We’ve invested more than $13 million in the last two years, just to continue improving our product,” Sullens explained.

Sullen’s keynote was followed by a general session by Sunny (“Yes, that’s really my name.”) Grosso, of the speaking and consulting group Delivering Happiness. Grosso’s a session focused on retaining good employees through positive leadership strategies. Her presentation offered attendees a slight break in from the event’s intensive education by exploring how managers and employees can redefine what it means to work and build a career.

After that, PestPac users broke up into individual training classes, some of which served as an idea generator for Marathon. The company used the intimate classroom-style interaction with its customers to brainstorm with them, mining for new ideas for PestPac improvements, desired features and streamlined functionality.

For the first time at a PestPac conference, attendees were given an opportunity to complete 10 hours of CEU requirements in two days. Fumigation, general household pests, termite/wood destroying organisms, lawn and ornamental and CORE topics were all allotted two CEU hours per topic.

Tom Gibbons, senior product specialist, formed a focus group from the attendees assembled for his presentation to discuss using technology to aid pest management field sales. Gibbons, though armed with a PowerPoint presentation spent most of the session taking questions and picking the brains of those in attendance. Not only were attendees encouraged to ask questions, they were given the opportunity to voice concerns, criticisms and ideas for improvements.

Likewise, Jason Kochel, Marathon’s chief solutions architect, listened and logged suggestions from customers about improving PestPac dashboard capabilities.

Interactivity was a key component to this year’s conference. Attendees were given multiple opportunities throughout the conference to meet and speak one-on-one with Marathon reps.

Additionally, an exposition hall was available to visitors at multiple scheduled times so attendees could explore new products and technology conveniently without interrupting their participation in the training and educational sessions.

Several opportunities for after-show-hours entertainment including the 5th Annual Bugs & Blues Bash at Downtown Disney’s House of Blues, a UC Golf Classic and a “Brew, Bourbon & BBQ” tasting.

You can reach Will Nepper at or 216-706-3775.

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