Pictured (clockwise, from top left) Barry Dean and Luke Laird; the PestWorld 2020 virtual exhibit hall; general session speakers Leon Logothetis and Ben Nemtin; the PestWorld lobby; and NPMA CEO Dominique Stumpf.

When the National Pest Management Association chose Nashville as the location for its 87th annual convention and exposition, the association had the sights and sounds of Music City in mind as a backdrop — not computer screens. But the pest control industry has once again proven its ability to adapt by participating in this year’s virtual event.

As NPMA CEO Dominique Stumpf noted during the Bayer-sponsored opening ceremony, 2020 has been a tumultuous year that has included everything from a pandemic to natural disasters — and even “murder hornets” — but “our industry has weathered the storms and has come out of it stronger and better prepared for whatever comes next.”

Just as PCOs have pivoted and proactively reinvented themselves, so too has NPMA. Among actions NPMA has taken to help PCOs survive and thrive during 2020 are: creating pestcontrolcoronavirus.com; launching a webinar series focused on areas impacted by COVID-19; and sharing communications regarding HR, government resources, etc.

“Because of this hard work, the renewed focus on safety protocols and the advancements in innovation that occurred, you have been classified as an ‘essential service,’ establishing the critical role this industry plays as protectors of public health and property,” Stumpf said.

Stumpf also credited the pest control industry for its resilience in “keeping people’s homes, families, businesses, medical facilities and our nation’s food supply protected” and for being proactive by “staying two steps ahead” with the launch of offerings such as sanitation/cleaning.

In addition to supporting members during the COVID-19 pandemic, Stumpf noted that NPMA continues to address ongoing challenges such as employee recruitment. For example, NPMA recently launched PestControlJobs.com, a new resource that is part of NPMA’s workforce development initiative to promote careers in the professional pest control industry (see page 10).

Also during the opening ceremony, attendees heard from Nashville musicians Barry Dean and Luke Laird, who played a number of hits they either composed together or by themselves, including “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools,” which Dean wrote and Tim McGraw recorded.

Other highlighted sessions included:

In a Corteva-sponsored general session, inspirational speaker Leon Logothetis had a very simple suggestion on how to achieve self-fulfillment: be kind to others. “If we live a life based on service, we are truly alive. If we live a life [based] simply by how much money we make, we are not fully living,” said Logothetis, who has dedicated his life to teaching the lessons and benefits of kindness. For over a decade, he’s traveled the globe to more than 100 countries to highlight the good in humanity, which he has documented through his best-selling books and TV shows.

Ben Nemtin, who along with four friends founded “The Buried Life” — a project to chronicle the group’s efforts to complete 100 “bucket list” items — was the Syngenta-sponsored general session speaker. In soliciting others (via the media) for help in checking off “bucket list” items, the foursome decided to expand their focus from just clicking off items on a bucket list, to making a difference in people’s lives and sharing these stories. Editor’s note: PCT will have full-length articles covering the sessions presented by Logothetis and Nemtin in December PCT. — Brad Harbison

Industry Keeping Close Tabs On Local Pesticide Legislation

© no_limit_pictures | iStock

While PCOs have spent the better part of this year focused on the Nov. 3 General Election and how the new congressional makeup will affect them, they also have been keeping tabs on local and state legislation that impacts pesticide use. Dave Tierney, director of government affairs, Bayer CropScience, shared with PestWorld attendees several regulatory trends the pest control industry will be following in 2020-2021.

Tierney worked in government affairs 15 years ago for Monsanto (which was purchased by Bayer) when Monsanto was defending itself against those opposed to GMOs (genetically modified organisms). He recalled that about 35 states had proposed legislation around GMOs in place at one point, but that “federally things were pretty much in place. We’re a highly regulated industry, which is a good thing. And so not much really happened. But a lot of those same individuals that we maybe had some challenges with then…have moved over to pesticides now.”

Tierney said that this past year has seen “a record amount of bills introduced in state legislative bodies that would prohibit or somehow limit our ability and our customers’ ability to use some of these highly regulated products.” Upwards of 300 different pieces of legislation have been introduced, Tierney said. In early October, California initiated a review of 22 different pesticides under Prop 65 for potential labeling of different claims. As Tierney noted, “That is a great example of where we would see that as an overreach and we will do what we can.”

Tierney said he expects pesticide preemption to continue to be challenged in 2020-2021. NPMA and others have long supported pesticide preemption, the belief that the state lead agency preempts local government when it comes to determining how pest control products and services are employed. Tierney explained the importance of preemption. “I think local control is important for many, many things but for the products we use not so much. I really think the scientific expertise, the regulatory framework that’s in place, and the resources that are required, are there at the state level and at the federal level.”

Tierney warned that he is seeing preemption challenged more and more. He cited recent efforts by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to prohibit the use of glyphosate on Minneapolis parkland, as well as other efforts in New Jersey and California. “We’ll continue to engage [with preemption] as well. And again, try to work with others to keep some of those kind of laws in place.”

The last area that Tierney discussed was litigation. He said he expects the specialty chemical industry will continue to be challenged in court, citing recently settled glyphosate litigation. “I think the great news is everyone here who has used glyphosate in the past will continue to do so the way they always have.” Tierney added that there are three big glyphosate cases in California that Bayer has appealed, and that these cases will likely end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Following Tierney’s presentation, NPMA Director of Public Policy Jake Plevelich recognized Super SPARs (NPMA State Policy Affairs Representatives) for their efforts this past year. SPARs are NPMA members who work to better coordinate federal and state advocacy between NPMA and the state associations. Plevelich recognized the following SPARs.

  • New England — Ted Brayton, Griggs & Browne Co., Providence, R.I.
  • Colorado — Kevin Lemasters, EnviroPest, Windsor, Colo.
  • North Carolina — Marty Roberts, Rid-a-Bug Exterminating, Hamptonville, N.C.
  • Maryland — Andrea Brubaker, American Pest, Fulton, Md.
  • Michigan — Bill Welsh, Rose Pest Solutions, Troy, Mich.
  • Pennsylvania — Marty Overline, Aardvark Pest Management, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Arizona — Stu Keenan, KY-KO Pest Prevention, Mesa, Ariz.
  • Maryland — Brian Schoonmaker, Capitol Pest, Bethesda, Md.
  • California — Jim Steed, Neighborly Pest Management, Roseville, Calif; and Darren Van Steenwyk, Clark Pest Control, Lodi, Calif.

Learn more about NPMA’s Public Policy Committee and the work it does at https://npmapestworld.org/public-policy.

— Brad Harbison

News & Notes

NPMA Launches PestControlJobs.com

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) announced the launch of a new workforce website, PestControlJobs.com, as part of its national initiative to help highlight pest control as a viable and desirable industry with many job opportunities and career paths. It will build a pipeline of qualified candidates to meet business demand and increase overall pride and professionalism in the industry by showcasing what pest management professionals do to protect people, food and property pests and improve overall quality of life.

Unveiled during the opening ceremony of the PestWorld 2020 virtual conference, PestControlJobs.com is dedicated to promoting careers in professional pest control and encouraging potential job seekers to search for employment opportunities on its exclusive job board for NPMA member companies.

“We are thrilled to launch PestControlJobs.com which will serve as the digital destination for prospective talent to learn more about the incredible opportunities that await them when taking the leap into professional pest control,” said NPMA CEO Dominique Stumpf.

Site features include articles and information about the industry, suggested career paths, general job descriptions for a variety of roles, real-life success stories from pest control professionals who have made promising careers for themselves and more. NPMA simultaneously launched supporting Facebook and LinkedIn properties to attract and connect with key target audiences including students and parents, women, and veterans returning to the civilian workforce.

For a limited time, all NPMA member companies can post current job openings at no cost on the live job board, which can be found at Careers.PestControlJobs.com. Members of the NPMA Founders Club, comprised of companies that have pledged a five-year monetary donation to the Workforce Development Initiative, will have the benefit of unlimited job postings throughout their five-year commitment as well as other exclusive opportunities on both the website and job board.

“Through this initiative and by working closely with our members, NPMA will help fill the demand for skilled workers and attract new talent to the professional pest control industry,” said Cindy Mannes, senior vice president at NPMA, who heads up this initiative. “Once they learn about the job security, opportunity for advancement, training and education, benefits and earning potential — and most importantly, the role pest control professionals have in protecting people, food and property from pest- related threats — they’ll be moved to join us and start their new and rewarding careers.”

To learn more about NPMA’s Workforce Development Initiative, visit www.PestControlJobs.com or contact workforce@pestworld.org.

FMC Donates in Support of PestVets 2020 Week of Service Initiative

The FMC Professional Solutions group attended PestWorld 2020 virtually to launch a new, 20-ounce package of Scion insecticide with UVX technology, meet with customers and support industry initiatives. One such initiative is PestVets. Since its inception, FMC has supported PestVets, a National Pest Management Association group committed to engaging veterans in their successful transition to a productive and rewarding career in the pest management industry.

At the 2020 PestWorld ‘In the Mix’ Virtual Reception, FMC pledged to ensure PestVets met its $10,000 goal for its 2020 Week of Service Initiative in support of Operation Stand Down Tennessee. If, at the end of the Week of Service, donations were short of the goal, FMC said it would donate the difference between the donations collected and the goal. Furthermore, if donations were met or exceeded the goal, FMC would donate an additional $5,000.

“FMC is committed to the support of both veterans and the pest management industry,” said National Sales Manager for the FMC Professional Solutions business unit, Tom Wharton. “This is a great cause, and there is no better place to show support for the pest management industry than at PestWorld.”

Dan Carrothers, commercial director for the FMC Professional Solutions business unit added, “One of the biggest challenges facing the pest management industry is the need for workers. By connecting veterans with potential employers and pest management companies with hard-working veterans, PestVets helps fulfill that need. We’re committed to helping them succeed.”

This donation is part of the industry commitment component of the FMC True Champions program.

Pi Chi Omega Holds Annual Meeting Via Zoom Conference

Pi Chi Omega, the international pest control fraternity, held its membership meeting via a Zoom conference during PestWorld. Pi Chi Omega President Mark “Shep” Sheperdigian kicked off the event with some original verse that nicely summed up the fraternity’s approach to this year’s meeting. “Pi Chi Omega sat down to figure there must be a better way for getting connected, not virus- infected and starting a brand new day.” One of Pi Chi Omega’s most important functions is providing scholarships to students majoring in urban and industrial pest management or some closely related plan of study. Stephanie Hill, who presented on behalf of the Scholarship Committee, noted that this past year Pi Chi Omega awarded scholarships to Tiana Molitor, Fabian List, Aaron Rodriques, Amanda Penicks and Rajani Sapkota. Pi Chi Omega also recognized a pair of members for their contributions to Pi Chi Omega and the pest control industry. Dr. Phil Koehler was recognized with the Award of Achievement and James Miller with the Award of Generosity.

Editor's note: PCT will have additional coverage of NPMA PestWorld 2020 in future issues, including more meeting recaps and additional reports from education and general sessions.