Much of what the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) does on a daily basis goes on behind the scenes without much fanfare — member services, training and education, grassroots messaging, consumer outreach and regulatory affairs are just a few of its valuable industry contributions. The most high-profile initiative the association undertakes every year is NPMA PestWorld, the annual conference and trade show that draws more than 3,700 attendees from around the globe, an important economic driver for the industry’s most influential national trade group that boasts nearly 5,000 members.

PMPs, industry product suppliers, university educators and international guests were looking forward to this year’s convention, which was scheduled for mid-October at the expansive Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tenn. But, as Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote more than two centuries ago, and I’m paraphrasing here, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” (How’s that for an industry-appropriate turn of phrase?!?!)

At press time, with COVID-19 cases spiking once again in many parts of the country — including the Volunteer State — the NPMA Board of Directors voted unanimously on July 22 to host PestWorld as a virtual conference rather than an in-person event. While this, no doubt, comes as a great disappointment to many in our industry, it is the prudent thing to do given the public health risks posed by in-person events at this time. After all, how would it look for an association devoted to protecting the public’s health, food and property to throw caution to the wind and host a large public gathering in what amounts to an enclosed biodome in the midst of a global pandemic?

While not everyone will agree with the board’s decision, NPMA President Scott Steckel put it best when he said, following extensive market research with all industry stakeholders, a virtual event is “the best option for the industry.”* NPMA’s latest actions are indicative of the thoughtful, measured approach the Board of Directors and NPMA staff have taken throughout the pandemic. PCT’s readers are highly supportive of the association’s performance during this time. In fact, 7 of 10 say the NPMA has done a good job keeping its members appraised of coronavirus developments, according to a recent PCT survey commissioned with Readex Research, a respected third-party research firm (see chart below).

 

 

I’ve long admired NPMA CEO Dominique Stumpf, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Cindy Mannes, and the association’s dedicated staff, who work tirelessly on behalf of their members to advance the interests of this essential service industry. And at no time have they worked harder than in the past six months, adjusting strategic initiatives, reenvisioning industry events and adapting to ever-evolving market conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve stepped up for us; now it’s time for us to step up for them and fully support NPMA’s efforts in hosting Virtual PestWorld.

“We are really pleased that the PMP and supplier communities have expressed such overwhelming support of NPMA and this V-convention,” Steckel said. “We look forward to an exciting event.” Embrace this year’s conference by using the money you’ll save traveling to and from Nashville to register as many of your team members as possible for Virtual PestWorld. NPMA will be indebted to you for your support and we’ll come out of the COVID-19 pandemic stronger — and more unified — than ever!

The author is publisher of PCT.

(*NPMA July 22, 2020 press release)