Pest Management Professional chronicled six women who have made pest management their calling. Each one forged her own path toward success — and learned some lessons along the way.
Industry leaders come in all shapes, sizes — and yes, genders, too. Look no further than the executives of the National Pest Management Association (CEO Dominique Stumpf, CMP, CAE); the United Producers, Formulators and Distributors Association (Executive Director Valera Jessee); and the current Top 3 executives for the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (Liza Fleeson Trossbach, president; Linda Johns, vice president; and Irene King, secretary).
But what about the next generation of leaders? Is the industry doing enough to ensure a diverse mix of backgrounds to reflect the customers it serves? How do we get beyond the stereotype of little boys using bugs to make little girls scream?
Twenty years ago, Glynnis Anderson agreed to help a friend whose brother owned a pest management company. A single parent, she took the office job because it provided a steady income and benefits. Besides, she figured, how hard could it be?
“I had a rude awakening,” Anderson says. “But all that did was motivate me more. It didn’t defeat me.”
Since then, the office manager, IT manager and customer service manager for Home Pest Control in Columbia, S.C., has made pest management her career.
When Anderson started out, she had no pest management knowledge. Because she was eager to learn, she asked questions, attended training events and meetings, and studied product labels. She even read industry magazines during her lunch breaks.
“You know you have conquered most of your natural fears when you can read about massive cockroach and rodent infestations while you’re eating and not bat an eye,” she teases.
Anderson earned a license in industrial, institutional, structural and health-related pest control, and is certified in wood-destroying insect (WDI) inspection. She’s also certified through Clemson University’s Master Termite Technician program. At the time, few women were pursuing these achievements. As a result, Anderson developed a thick skin to go along with her pest industry knowledge.
“In the early days, I think that was because a lot of women were not involved except in administrative roles,” she says. “That has changed, and it is awesome.”
Overcoming customer bias was part of her on-the-job training.
“I had to push past my annoyance at a customer who wanted to speak to ‘one of the men in charge,’” Anderson says. But again, she adds, that’s changing.
“There are more female technicians, sales reps, trainers and CEOs than ever before,” she says. “We see women as leaders of local, state and national associations.”
Anderson herself is a member of the National Pest Management Association, the South Carolina Pest Control Association and the Central Carolina Realtor Association.
Reflecting on her career, she says she believes being a woman in the pest management field has had its advantages.
Most women understand the need for their families, pets and homes to be safe and healthy, she explains, and some female customers are much more open to inviting a woman into their homes. Anderson trains the staff to try to understand where the customer is coming from.
Her knowledge and hard work has made a huge impact on Home Pest Control. Anderson led the way when vehicle tracking, routing software and handheld devices became available. In addition, she made the switch to a paperless office so technicians could access files in the field to better serve customers.
“I have seen a lot of changes in the past 20 years,” Anderson says.
Company: Home Pest Control, Columbia, S.C.
Years in pest management: 20
Advice for women in pest management: “The stereotype of ‘ewww bugs’ makes many qualified candidates not even consider a career in our industry. But if working in the field as a pest technician isn’t something you would like, you may love the role of managing training, inventory, customer financial data — the list goes on and on.”
[Also view the feature stories on Erica Brister, Dr. Susan Jones, Jo Cook, Shay Runion and Judy Black, BCE.]
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