5 Questions with Mary Vongas


September 16, 2015

This month, we feature a question and answer (Q&A) session with Mary Vongas, president of Saddle Brook, N.J.-based ChemTec Pest Control.

Mary Vongas became president of ChemTec in 2013.

Mary Vongas became president of ChemTec in 2013.

1. You hold a bachelor’s degree in communication and a master’s degree in change management. How are the two areas of study intertwined?

Change is needed to advance, but if it’s not managed, it probably won’t be successful. This is where organizations crash and burn. We know that folks’ fear of change is usually based on lack of knowledge or threatening a comfortable place. Change can challenge your abilities and rock your self-confidence. Just think of the last time you upgraded your cell phone. Thoughtful, well planned communication is needed for change to be accepted and succeed.

2. Can you please share three dos and three don’ts to help pest management professionals (PMPs) embrace positive changes within their organizations?

1. Do empower your people. Empowerment is an overused word, but not an overused practice.

2. Do tell and re-tell great customer or employee stories. They are a positive reflection on your company and our industry, and make you an attractive employer.

3. Do ask for others’ opinions and viewpoints. I’m always pleasantly surprised at how a group of us can view a situation so differently.

1. Do not micromanage; it squashes creativity.

2. Do not ignore negative feedback. Whether its from customers or employees, it can snowball.

3. Do not expect everyone in your company to be the same. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and those differences should be used to make an organization stronger.

3. You took the reins at ChemTec in 2013, becoming the company’s third president since the business was founded in 1931. Is there one key change you’ve helped make at ChemTec during the past two years?

We approach everything we do with a sense of urgency. Every task, on all levels, is important.

4. In 2006, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) made you the first recipient of its Professional Women in Pest Management Award. What did receiving that award mean to you?

It meant that I had found my home and that the industry was accepting me. I have no background in pest control. I stumbled upon the industry and became attracted to the people, the sense of community, and the reality that any one person with drive and an idea can make a significant contribution that will help the industry grow and advance.

5. What does the Professional Women in Pest Management (PWIPM) organization do for the industry, and how can individuals and companies get involved?

PWIPM provides an awareness of the role that women play in our industry. It offers educational programming, encouragement through networking opportunities and national and local-level meetings, and career assistance and advancement through the Women’s Empowerment Grant.

Any woman working for an NPMA-member company can belong. Reach out to any current member you know, attend a meeting, sign up for the newsletter, or like its Facebook page to get started. When in doubt, contacting NPMA Chief Operating Officer Dominique Stumpf is always a good starting point. 

You can reach Pest Management Professional Publisher and Editorial Director Marty Whitford at mwhitford@northcoastmedia.net.

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