(Editor’s Note: Learn more about how this concept is particularly true when dealing with cockroaches in a commercial setting in Dan’s February “Ask the Expert” column for Pest Management Professional.)
No matter what pest you find yourself dealing with, much of the approach to prevention or elimination will be similar, at least in principle: Look for the source, address structural and sanitation issues, perform exclusion work where possible, and treat when necessary. But when dealing with the food industry, or any audited/regulated industry, there’s another important step: Get to know the regulators.
Developing a working relationship before you have a problem is an important piece of crisis management. Once something has gone wrong, it can be a real challenge to establish credibility in the eyes of a public health official: Everything sounds like excuse-making. If instead you make it a point to interact with officials ahead of time, either individually, or by inviting them to a local industry meeting, a level of mutual trust and understanding can be established.
I saw this firsthand early on in my pest management career when working in California’s San Francisco Bay market. My longtime friend and mentor, Ken Ward of Crane Pest Control, had me do a presentation on cockroach and rodent control practices for a local public health department. Years later, I have never forgotten how well the talk was received. Nor have I forgotten how, when several months later there was a client-created problem that needed to be addressed, working with that same health department was very much pain-free.
BALDWIN is director of technical, training and regulatory services for Terminix Commercial. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.