Q&A: Columbus Pest Control’s Alonzo sheds light on industry legislation

By |  March 28, 2017

This month, our question-and-answer session features Lonnie Alonso, president of Columbus Pest Control in Columbus, Ohio. Alonso, a second-generation pest management professional (PMP), has actively worked with state and local legislators for years.

Check out our video interview with Lonnie during the 2017 PMP Growth Conference below..

Check out the video interview with Alonzo below, taken during the 2017 PMP Growth Summit.

1. How has your involvement with your state’s legislators made a difference?

Our involvement as PMPs in Ohio has provided opportunities for us to make state legislators aware of the work that we do and the roadblocks that we face performing our services for the public. Through consistent efforts led by our lobbyist, Belinda Jones, there is knowledge and awareness in the legislature of what we do and how we are engaged politically and with our lead agency — the Department of Agriculture — and key state agencies. A few years ago, we were able to pass legislation that helped redefine our work in the nuisance wild animal field, and we are working again in that area for more fine-tuning.

2. What sparked your interest in politics?

I recall the efforts of our pest control industry leaders, along with all the other pesticide user groups, in the passing of Ohio’s pesticide law in the mid-1970s. During this process, I was in high school, and our home and office were not far from the Ohio Statehouse. My father was one of the industry leaders working on the efforts to pass Ohio’s pesticide law, and he occasionally took me to committee hearings and other meetings.

I learned early on that you will only accomplish what you are willing to make an effort to do, and you must be “at the table.” My dad and I were really close, and he constantly updated me on the processes and what went on. Overall, my interest in politics was because of my dad and his experience in that arena, and the recognition that in America, we have that right and we should use it.

3. Why is it important for PMPs to stay on top of local and state regulations?

First of all, for the direct benefit to each of our businesses! Secondly, for the benefit of our entire industry. A united voice of many is much stronger and meaningful than a lone individual. But it takes many individuals to engage together.

4. What can PMPs do to get involved and make a difference?

Meet and discuss issues, and try to find common ground. If possible, hire a great lobbyist long before major issues come up. Develop relationships with your state’s lead agency officials. Develop relationships with legislators and their aides before you need them. Support political campaigns financially and by helping out. Meet your legislator for coffee, lunch or dinner; this can be done individually or with a group of members. Be consistent and don’t quit.

5. What’s the No. 1 step a PMP could take to ensure federal, state and local regulations benefit the public, and allow the industry to protect the health and well-being of the public?

In my opinion, these are two diverse matters. I think most of us can — and must — be involved in state and local matters. As for the federal matters, we can do some of the work, but we also need to lean on the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).

As for the No. 1 step: engagement. Regardless of the issue(s), we must engage in whatever manner we can. Make phone calls, send emails. We must engage so legislators and regulators know us, respect us, and depend on us for accurate information.


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