The National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA’s) PestWorld 2016 drew throngs of pest management professionals (PMPs), industry business owners, manufacturers and distributors from across the country and beyond to Seattle Oct. 18-21. As is typical, the event offered several days of learning opportunities coupled with a convention-floor expo featuring nearly 200 vendors.
The staff of Pest Management Professional (PMP) kicked off their Seattle adventure on the eve of PestWorld with a PMP Hall of Fame induction ceremony and banquet. The event took place in a ballroom of the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, just a few paces from the Washington State Convention Center where this year’s PestWorld was held. (Editor’s Note: View more PMP Hall of Fame coverage.)
Tuesday, Oct. 18
PestWorld began in earnest Oct. 18 with multiple committee and board meetings, including the NPMA’s Marketing and Membership Committee, Pi Chi Omega (pest management’s business fraternity) and the Professional Pest Management Association’s (PPMA) board of directors.
Highlights from the PPMA meeting, which is co-chaired by Nicole Keefe, Clark Pest Control, included discussion of the growing MyNPMA online community (20,000 participants!), as well as the importance of working with state associations and helping members interested in association leadership positions accomplish their goals.
Editor Heather Gooch represented PMP at the fraternity’s meeting, where 14 new member applications were submitted and voted in during the meeting. Additionally, Pi Chi Omega President Judy Black recognized Blair and Julie Toblan, son and daughter-in-law of the late Pi Chi Omega Executive Director Vern Toblan, as guests of the meeting (Toblan was inducted into PMP’s Hall of Fame the night before). During the meeting, Andrea Coron said the organization is looking to strategize, to “shape how we move forward and continue the work we do.”
At 3 p.m., the convention hall opened its doors to attendees. PMP staffers manned our publication’s booth and took advantage of the opportunity to speak with our current readers, new subscribers and the PMP columnists we don’t get enough opportunities to see face-to-face. During expo hours, Digital Editor Joelle Harms conducted several on-site interviews with industry players, our columnists and other attendees.
Wednesday, Oct. 19
On the second day of PestWorld, things kicked into high gear with the first of two general sessions. Wednesday morning offered Jim “The Rookie” Morris’ inspiring presentation, which outlined his life story as a fast-track minor league baseball player whose dreams were derailed by arm injuries, before his transition to high school baseball coach and role model to millions. Morris’ memoir, The Rookie, was a major bestseller adapted into a movie.
The rest of the morning and early afternoon was filled with multiple educational sessions covering everything from ants to insect eggs. Pity the attendee (and reporters) who had to choose among concurrent presentations. For example:
- 2015 PMP Hall of Famer Dr. Laurel Hansen, Spokane Falls Community College, explored native and exotic ant species and their impact on the Pacific Northwest. At the same time, the enticingly titled science lesson, “Tales from the Crypt: Using Science-Based Methods to Solve Tough Pest Problems,” showcased some of the three presenters’ most dramatic pest horror stories and how each led to a happy ending thanks to creative, science-based solutions. Dr. Faith Oi, University of Florida; Tom Jarzynka, Massey Services; and Jeff Weier, Sprague Pest Solutions; took turns spinning their stomach-churning yarns for a packed room of PestWorld students.
- 2015 PMP Hall of Famer Dr. Phil Koehler, University of Florida, presented “Insect Eggs: Why are They So Difficult to Control,” while just around the corner Heath Waldorf, of Pine Brook, N.J.-based Bird Control Advisory, tackled bird control topics. Glen Ramsey, BCE, Allgood Pest Solutions, offered his troubleshooting tips for “The Tough Little Termite,” and Vic Charles, ServiceMaster, made “The Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion.” Finally, Chris Haggerty, American Pest Control; Jim Steed, Neighborly Pest Management; and Billy Tesh, Pest Management Systems Inc.; met with attendees to discuss “Success Stories from the NPMA State Policy Affairs Representatives.”
Later in the afternoon were more concurrent sessions: Dr. Dini Miller, Virginia Polytechnic and State University, gave one of her signature entertaining presentations — this time on using vacuums, heat and other non-chemical solutions in the battle against bed bugs. Other technical sessions included an examination of effective tick management by Dr. Amanda Eiden, Rutgers University.
Meanwhile, PPMA Executive Director Cindy Mannes offered her insights on consumer market research data and how it affects the entire pest industry, including how it can be used to help a pest management company grow. Nearby, NPMA Vice President Janay Rickwalder, CAE, schooled attendees on how to get the most out of their association membership.
This editor sat in on “Recruiting Veterans: Finding Top Talent in Today’s Marketplace,” in which Galvin Murphy, a veteran and president of Yankee Pest Control, discussed the importance and benefits of hiring U.S. military veterans. The session, sponsored by PestVets, was invaluable for those looking to recruit, hire and retain veteran employees in today’s increasingly competitive job market.
PMP also attended an educational session that illustrated why PMPs should care about their companies’ cultures and the ways in which good communication is vital to maintaining it. Rich McHale, vice president of JP McHale Pest Management, Buchanan, N.J., told the packed room that their businesses are “operating in a fishbowl. Your company culture is on display for everyone — your customers, your community, your vendors — to see,” he said.
Other highlights from educational sessions included the University of Kentucky’s Dr. Mike Potter’s (PMP Hall of Fame Class of 2012) presentation, “Stakes and Silver Bullets: Battling Bed Bugs Through History.” There was also a breakdown of U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and job safety presented by Rollins’ Mike Gibney, and NPMA Staff Entomologist Dr. Michael Bentley’s exploration of rodenticides and their effects on public health and the environment.
This editor’s final educational session of the day was presented by Dr. Allan Felsot, Washington State University, who led a candid discussion that armed attendees with the knowledge necessary to understand (and explain to wary clients) the difference between how pesticides are stigmatized in mass media and the reality of their chemistry.
Thursday, Oct. 20
Thursday’s full schedule of sessions kicked off with that morning’s general session and NPMA’s annual industry awards.
The general session speaker, Robbie Bach, took the stage to share some secrets to his success as CEO of Microsoft Xbox. He discussed effective strategic development and tips on how to capitalize on the opportunities presented by change.
After Thursday’s expo hours wrapped up, it was time for more learning from a packed roster of educational sessions.
In one of eight concurrent educational sessions scheduled after expo hours, Dr. Janet McAllister of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained how the structural pest management industry plays a unique role in the management and control of the mosquitoes that transmit Zika. She touched on the latest known facts about the virus and explained what role PMPs can play in controlling it.
Dr. Hansen was back at the podium, giving an insightful presentation examining ant behavior and how understanding behavioral similarities between native and invasive ants can improve control of them.
At the same time, Dr. Eiden led a must-attend session — “Current Monitoring and Control Practices for Bed Bugs” — for PMPs who wanted to learn about the latest monitoring and control practices.
Those in the market to balance their technical learning with business tips had two sessions to choose from in Thursday’s first block of opportunities. Jennifer Shook, McCloud Services, explained strategies small and mid-sized companies can put to work to help win and maintain talent, while a few doors away Jess Phelan, Vault Communications, dove into the increasingly complicated world of social media. Everything from new platforms to hashtag marketing was touched upon, to give those in attendance a leg up on social media’s future and the impact it will have on their businesses.
But we’ve only scratched the surface of Thursday’s educational opportunities. Choosing from the list of concurrent sessions became no less difficult as the day went on. Continuing down the path of PestWorld learning meant deciding between Dr. Frank Arthur’s (U.S. Department of Agriculture) presentation concerning stored product pests; Dr. Kaylee Byers’ (University of British Columbia) insights regarding rats and pathogens; and “Mosquito Business Models: What Works and What Doesn’t,” a panel discussion featuring Donnie Blake, OPC Services; Bryan Cooksey, McCall Services; and Dennis Jenkins, ABC Home & Commercial Services.
One of the afternoon’s most unique and engaging presentations explored integrated pest management (IPM) as it is applied in museums. While the topic might seem applicable to only a sliver of PestWorld attendees, the strategies employed by Christa Deacy-Quinn of the Spurlock Museum had crossover appeal because they illustrated how ingenuity and creative approaches can develop from necessity.
Other Thursday afternoon educational highlights included Dr. Koehler’s exploration of “Insects vs. Humans — the Value of Pest Control,” and the University of Georgia’s Dr. Brian Forschler’s tutorial on the science behind backyard mosquito control.
PMPs looking to learn the most cost-effective ways to manage their company vehicles received expert advice at The Great Fleet Debate educational session. The panel of experts included Dennis Jenkins, Jason Bailey (ServiceMaster), Kevin Lemasters, ACE (EnviroPest), and Phil Cooper (Cooper Pest Solutions). They took questions from moderator Andy Architect, chief industry relations officer for the NPMA, and from PMPs in attendance.
On Thursday night, the NPMA’s committee members (and the PMP staff) gathered at the “In the Mix” reception, filling one of the Sheraton’s ballrooms with people, food, drinks and plenty of opportunities for relaxed socializing after a long day of learning.
Friday, Oct. 21
On Friday, PestWorld began to wind down after two final hours of opportunity to explore what the expo floor had to offer.
Five topic-specific tracks ran concurrently from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The topics in play included business technology, emerging pests, rats, business basics and digital marketing.
RMC Consulting’s Dr. Bobby Corrigan (PMP Hall of Fame Class of 2008) led all three segments of the NPMA Rat Academy, which provided its students with a comprehensive afternoon of expertise from the man referred to by some as “the rodent whisperer.”
Cleveland Dixon, Holiday Termite & Pest Control, offered a primer on integrating technology into a business in the first segment of the Business Technology track, “Technology 101.” This was followed by “Technology 201” and its panel of expert educators, which included Ari Rogoway (Sprague Pest Solutions); PMP columnist Kurt Scherzinger (Scherzinger Pest Control); and Justin McCauley (McCauley Services). They discussed business automation and how to maximize technology in a business. “Technology 301: Maximizing Your Data and Protecting Your Investment,” presented by Court Parker (Bug Busters USA), rounded out the track.
Finally, the Emerging Pest track tackled the topics of bed bug resistance (Dr. Alvaro Romero, New Mexico State University), “Mosquito Management of Tomorrow” (Dr. Karl Malamud-Roam, Rutgers University), and a look into the future via Dr. Oi’s presentation, “Pest Control 2030,” in which she covered the latest in gene editing technologies and how they might help shape pest management’s future.
If you weren’t able to attend this year, consider all PestWorld has to offer — and meet up with us next year at PestWorld 2017. See you in Baltimore!
Additional reporting for this story by Heather Gooch, Diane Sofranec and Joelle Harms.