Remembering Norman Cooper

|  June 30, 2017
Our day of sightseeing with Norm and Marilyn in 2012 wrapped up with a delicious dinner at the world-famous Peter Luger Steak House, which was established in 1887. Photo: Ray Johnson

Our day of sightseeing with Norm and Marilyn in 2012 wrapped up with a delicious dinner at the world-famous Peter Luger Steak House, which was established in 1887.
Photo: Ray Johnson

On April 5, we lost one of the best ambassadors our industry has ever had. As I reflect on the passing of industry icon Norman Cooper, I want to share with you my friendship with him and his lovely wife, Marilyn.

I remember the first time we met at the National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA’s) PestWorld conference many years ago. Norm was giving a presentation about how to earn extra dollars on each stop. People in the room were amazed at his energetic sprit and the wonderful ideas he was sharing.

I clearly remember one of the ideas he shared: To sharpen knives the customer had in the kitchen. If you think about it, Norm could have been the pioneer of bundling many different services to keep his business growing and profitable. Many folks in the room that day were busy taking notes and learning from the wisdom of a master communicator.

In August 2012, my wife, Tammy, and I went to New York City for a meeting. A few weeks before, I casually mentioned the upcoming trip to Norm. He got so excited, he insisted that he and Marilyn take us around town. He called me several times just to talk about what we would want to see during our visit.

We arrived a couple of days early, and Norm and Marilyn picked us up at our hotel. Little did we know that our day was planned down to the hour. Norm was not only a great diplomat for our industry, he was also a cultural attaché for New York, especially Brooklyn. Our personal tour began by crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and continuing on down to the Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk area, where you could see the Steeplechase Pier. We also passed by the New York Aquarium.

As Norm drove us around, you could just tell how pleased and satisfied he was with his hometown and of the people who lived there. Tammy and I were so gratified and honored to have that moment of time with the Coopers.
 

Environmental guardian

One of Norm’s most treasured accomplishments was to coin the NPMA phrase “Guardians of the Environment” as part of a branding initiative during his 1991-92 presidency. He was always ahead of his time and a great marketer for pest management professionals.

When I last saw him, it was in Seattle at PestWorld last October. He gave me one of his business cards, which read “Classic Chinese Art.” I don’t know about Classic Chinese Art, but I do know that Norman Cooper was a “Classic American Visionary” — a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend. In 2014, he was presented with the NPMA’s inaugural Global Ambassador Lifetime Achievement award. In Seattle, he received the NPMA’s Pinnacle Award, the association’s most coveted and prestigious award.

Norman, many others and I will miss you. Your jokes, your smile, your friendly handshake and embrace will forever be in the wonderful memories of us all.

Editor’s Note: Learn more about the life and times of Cooper, a 1999 PMP Hall of Famer.

You can reach Johnson, a past president of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), president of Sevierville, Tenn.-based Johnson Pest Control, and founder of ACES for Business at ray@johnsonpestcontrol.com.

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