UPFDA hosts 2021 spring conference virtually


April 21, 2021


On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 21, approximately 54 members of the United Producers, Formulators and Distributors Association (UPFDA) logged on to the Zoom platform to participate in the organization’s spring conference.

UPFDA President Tom Forshaw IV, also president of Charlotte, N.C.-based FORSHAW, opened the conference by sharing two things he was grateful for: “One, that our industry was deemed an essential business and [Gross Domestic Product, or] GDP of the industry is up. And two, that 2020 is over and 2021 is off to a great start.

“We as an industry found solutions to many problems and issues,” he added. “And I see us continuing to conquer challenges.”

Forshaw introduced Jacqueline Angulo, VP of Superior Angran, San Juan, P.R., and Mark DiNunio, Marketpoint Solutions, Alpharetta, Ga., to discuss the latest findings of UPFDA’s Strategic Planning Committee.

I like to think about it as ‘future-proofing the association,'” DiNunio quipped. “But it’s always good to step back and think about what value we bring to our members, and how it helps them and the community at large within the pest management industry. We want to see how we can help advance and expand the value proposition.”

The committee is in Phase I of a three-phase plan, working on assessing insights gleaned from a recent survey of strategic planning committee members, and identified nine main areas of where the association offers specific value to members.

“We’re starting to explore more and dig deeper,” he said.

Next, Bell Labs President and CEO Steve Levy, who chairs UPFDA’s Regulatory/Government Affairs and Conference and Site committees, introduced Greg Clendenin, principal at the Vero Beach, Fla.-based The Clendenin Consulting Group. Clendenin presented “Sustainable Protocols and Strategies for Continual Growth and Development.”

Like quality, growth is a state of mind,” Clendenin reminded attendees. Get the right people on board, focus on your Unique Selling Point (USP),  “make a company that people need to do with business with.”

Clendenin gave lots of helpful nuggets of advice, based upon his 40-plus years in the industry, including:

  • Make a habit of seeing around corners. Anticipate what’s going on in your own company and in the marketplace. What are your competitors offering? 
  • Don’t fall prey to analysis paralysis.
  • Measure and monitor performance.
  • Remember, we can manage the activity, we can’t manage the results.
  • There is no such thing as status quo: Your business is either getting better or worse.
  • Stay on top of the circumstances. Don’t yield to them. Do not operate under them. Instead, look for the opportunity that circumstances can present.


Forshaw returned to the “virtual dais” to share how he wanted to do something to better this world, and after a lot of thought and research, teamed with The Safe House Project in 2020. Founded in 2017 by Kristi Wells, Brittany Dunn and Nigel Anderson, the Alexandria, Va.-based organization focuses on training how to recognize children in danger of trafficking, and helping them get the care and support they need.

As Forshaw pointed out, “Technicians are positioned to be our eyes and ears of our communities. We’re going into houses and businesses regularly.”

In a short presentation, Wells noted that her organization has trained military, law enforcement officers, and even community-based training (via IAmOnWatch.org). She noted that pest management professionals can learn more about getting training for their businesses at FORSHAW.com/EyesAnd Ears.

UPFDA Secretary/Treasurer Donna Giacalone, executive VP of The Bug Stop in Chicago, Ill., introduced Cindy Mannes, senior VP of Public Affairs of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance. Mannes was pleased to announce that the NPMA Workforce Initiative is now the NPMA Workforce Program — meaning that it is established and formalized from its introduction in 2019. “For at least 20 years,” Mannes said, “I’ve been hearing from PMPs lamenting how they can’t grow. The work is there, but they cannot find the people.”

Through its PestControlJobs.com website and other components, the NPMA Workforce Program exists to tackle that problem. It is appealing to a variety of demographics, including new graduates, military veterans, women, and black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC).

“We are looking for skilled workers, people who can read labels and work with the public,” Mannes explained. With the help of continued program funding,  she added, the search will continue for qualified workers.


UPFDA Executive Director Andrea Coron introduced DiNunzio back to the dais, to present “Customer Intimacy: Achieving B2B Customer Intimacy in the Market Today.”

 DiNunzio started off with the thought-provoking “Nothing is wrong when nothing is wrong, except nothing is wrong.” He went on to explain to attendees proven ways to close the “brand value gap,” where a default position is selling by transaction, while the desired position, to maximize value, is to be relationship-based.

“Focus on those Five Fascinating Words: How can I help you?” he said. “Know your customer’s business as well as you know yours. How can you help your customers get the best outcomes?”

DiNunzio reiterated the importance of having the right people in place, particularly in leadership roles. “Screen, hire and develop right,” he said. With the right team, you can then fine-tune your brand strategy. He broke it into three steps:

  1. Define your company’s vision, mission, values. Built into it all your internal and external marketing, and sales messaging and communications.
  2. Differentiate your service ability across the entire lifespan of a customer relationship, from initial visit to offering other service lines.
  3. Shift your focus from service-centric to outcome-centric.


To close out the event, before members broke out into individual “coffee break rooms” to network in small groups, UPFDA Immediate Past President Scott Riley, Eastern regional sales manager of MGK Corp., introduced Lt. Col. (Ret.) Kevin Sweeney as the closing keynote speaker. Lt. Col. (Ret.) Sweeney, who was awarded the U.S. Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross in 2011, presented a lively biography of his military career, and the lessons he learned as part of being a team as well as a leader. He was also an entrepreneur and sales leader for a Fortune 50 company in his civilian life, and is currently the volunteer president of Honoring Our Wounded Military.

UPFDA plans to host its fall conference and reception during NPMA’s PestWorld in Las Vegas, Nev., on Nov. 3 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.


About the Author

Heather Gooch

Heather Gooch is the editor-in-chief for PMP magazine. She can be reached at hgooch@northcoastmedia.net or 330-321-9754.

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