Women in pest management: Deni Naumann


January 4, 2018

PMP interviews seven professionals about their journey so far, and what’s next in 2018.

What do a pest management firm owner, an industry federation president, two industry association executives, an industry product manufacturer, a pest researcher, and the 2017 National Pest Management Association Woman of Excellence winner have in common? They’re all profiled in our December issue. They’re all successful women in their respective fields, and they’ve all graciously shared insights about how they got here. In addition, they also offer advice to other women in professional pest management.

Every woman profiled for our series this year noted that the industry has changed — for the better — since they began 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. As Mary Vongas, pictured on our cover, notes, “Change means a possibility of innovation, advancement and growth. If you are flexible, plan your path, and work toward managing change, you can get your organization moving in a growth direction.”

Deni Naumann promotes quality and ethics in the industry.

Photos: Deni Naumann

If you are looking for a strong advocate of the pest management industry, look no further than Deni Naumann, president of Copesan Services Inc. Based in Menomonee Falls, Wis., Copesan is an alliance of independent, privately held pest management companies that competes on a national level for commercial clients across the country.

“I love this industry. I fell in love with it at my first PestWorld when I met so many dedicated people that had family-owned businesses,” she says, referring to the National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA’s) annual conference. “The industry has allowed me to be true to my values of operating in an environment of high integrity, while also being responsive and accountable for our mission.”

Currently, Copesan has more than 85 independent local pest management service providers. In addition, it directly owns two companies: Wil-Kil Pest Control and Holder’s Pest Solutions. Wil-Kil is based in Sun Prairie, Wis., and serves Minnesota, Northern Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and upper Michigan. Holder’s is based in Houston, Texas, and serves the Houston/Galveston market.

Founded in 1958, today Copesan has more than 500 national clients. It focuses on health, food safety and property protection. As Naumann points out, “The beauty of Copesan is that we offer national coverage with local expertise.”
An Iowa native who earned her public relations degree from Drake University in Des Moines, Naumann got started in the business world with Leo Burnett, a major advertising agency in Chicago. In 1981, she began working for S.C. Johnson, holding a series of management positions over 16 years.

While at S.C. Johnson, she acquired her Indiana pesticide applicators license to better understand her pesticide clients’ needs. She attended the Purdue University Pest Management Confrerence, where she worked with Dr. John Owens, who managed S.C. Johnson’s Entomology Center — affectionately known as the “Bug Farm” at the company. (With Drs. Gary Bennett and Bobby Corrigan, Dr. Owens is a co-author of the current edition of Truman’s Scientific Guide to Pest Management Operations.)

Naumann has immersed herself in the industry, even obtaining and maintaining a commercial pesticide applicator license.
Photos: Deni Naumann

From S.C. Johnson, Naumann moved to Essential Industries, a private, independent firm. For nine years, she worked closely with the owner to develop new markets and technology.

She was hired by Copesan in November 2006, when her predecessor, Tom Moore, retired.

Family, charity too

Aside from what she characterizes as “challenging, but exciting” work at Copesan, Naumann makes sure to spend time with her family, including husband, Mike, daughter, Sarah, and rescue dog, Pax.

Naumann has been actively involved in adult literacy as a tutor since 1978. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors of the Siebert Lutheran Foundation, a $100 million endowed foundation that provides grants to Lutheran ministries in southeastern Wisconsin.

You can reach Jerry Mix, a 2005 Hall of Famer, at pmpeditor@northcoastmedia.net.

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