By Dan Moreland

With bed bugs becoming an increasingly important economic driver for PMPs in many parts of the world, it should come as no surprise that the NPMA Global Bed Bug Summit, sponsored by BedBug Central, drew a record crowd of attendees to the Mile-High City in November.

It’s the third time the biennial event has been held in Denver, and despite the familiar feel of the venue, the most recent edition of the conference and trade show had a uniquely distinct vibe, in part because Multi-Family Housing and Business Tracks were added to the program, complementing the always-strong technical sessions.

When all was said and done, more than 575 industry professionals and 55 vendors attended the three day-event, including a growing contingent of representatives from the multi-family housing market.

“This past year BedBug Central has been working closely with the affordable housing market,” observed Phil Cooper, founder of the Global Bed Bug Summit. “We’ve identified that it’s a market with several different associations representing different groups within the market, but these groups don’t seem to interface with each other too often. We aim to establish a connective tissue that assists with helping all the groups with information on bed bugs, pest control and many other topics pertinent to the affordable housing industry.”

In an attempt to expand its market footprint and gain a better understanding of the multi-family sector, BedBug Central has built a 3,000-person database to strengthen its relationship with this important, yet traditionally underserved market. “We think getting to know the wants and needs of the multi-family housing market will allow the pest management industry to serve this segment more effectively in the future, which is our ultimate goal,” he says.

Dr. Stephen Doggett, Westmead Hospital, NSW, Australia; Dr. Dini Miller, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Va.; Gregory Boyd, Mountain Pest Control, Glenwood Springs, Colo.; and Dr. Chow-Yang Lee, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia. Boyd won a copy of the book “Advances in the Biology and Management of Modern Bed Bugs,” which was presented to him during a break in the educational sessions by the three authors.
BedBug Central President Rob DiJoseph welcomes attendees to the Global Bed Bug Summit.
Dr. Dini Miller of Virginia Tech was the keynote speaker in the opening session of the three-day conference, addressing “The Latest Breakthroughs and Discoveries in Bed Bug Science.”
BedBug Central’s WOW Patrol made attendees feel welcome throughout the event.
Phil Cooper (left), founder of the Global Bed Bug Summit, and Dominique Stumpf, CEO of the National Pest Management Association.
Joseph Latino, president of Allergy Technologies, introduces one of the speakers at the Global Bed Bug Summit.
Adam Witt, president of Witt Pest Management, Pittsburgh, Pa., shared his company’s experience using “Novel Fungal Pesticides for Bed Bug Control.”
Keith Robinson of ABC Home & Commercial Services was one of three presenters who spoke on the topic of “How to Stand Out from the Crowd in Today’s Booming Pest Control Market.”

ONGOING EVOLUTION. Another goal of the event is to continue to invest in the Global Bed Bug Summit’s core audience, PMPs charged with controlling these ubiquitous pests. Rob DiJoseph, president of BedBug Central, has been pleased with the evolution of the conference, which has grown from a largely technical meeting to an educational forum designed to address all facets of the marketplace (i.e., sales, marketing, regulatory, community outreach, etc.).

“I think the tone of the event has changed,” he said. “Since its inception in 2010, the Global Bed Bug Summit has matured and made great strides, addressing all facets of the bed bug market. We’re doing more from a business perspective now, which is good, without diminishing what has always been the core strength of the Summit, which is the ongoing research that is being conducted around the globe by leading industry educators, which have long supported this event.”

“What makes this event so great is its singular focus on bed bugs,” added NPMA CEO Dominique Stumpf. “It allows us to examine the bed bug market from all angles, which we hope will result in its continued expansion. I was particularly pleased to see that 30 to 40 percent of those in attendance were first-time attendees, which bodes well for the market.”

“I think we’ve done a good job of adapting to the changes that have occurred in the industry since the event’s inception,” DiJoseph added. “Like business, you can’t rest on your past accomplishments; you must constantly evolve to ensure the content remains fresh and relevant, and I think we’ve done that with the Global Bed Bug Summit.”

DiJoseph noted that another development has been the creation of a recurring revenue model for bed bug services, a trend embraced by Joseph Latino of Allergy Technologies, one of the corporate sponsors of the Global Bed Bug Summit, who has been a longtime proponent of such an approach to the business.

Dr. Brittany Campbell, staff entomologist at NPMA, hosted a well-attended “morning kickstarter” session, which served as a refresher course on bed bugs for those in attendance.

As it has incorporated various monitoring and control programs into its service offerings, “the industry has done a good job of beginning to generate recurring revenue with its bed bug services,” DiJoseph observed.

“I think there is a sea change occurring in the industry when it comes to providing preventive pest control services,” Latino added. “The industry has had year-after-year growth in the absence of a recurring revenue business model, so imagine what we could do as an industry if we successfully adopted a more robust recurring revenue model in the future?”

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS. Bookending the three-day event was a meeting of the Colorado Pest Control Association, which reported record attendance for its Winter Conference, and a meeting of the State Association officials, which was held the day following the close of the Global Bed Bug Summit. “Combining these events helped drive attendance to the Summit and served everyone well,” DiJoseph said.

Educational sessions presented at the conference featured a “Who’s Who” of the global bed bug research community, including such well-known names as Dr. Dini Miller, Virginia Tech; Dr. Stephen Doggett, Westmead Hospital; Dr. Karen Vail, University of Tennessee; Dr. Alvaro Romero, New Mexico State University; Dr. Chow-Yang Lee, Universiti Sains Malaysia; Dr. Susan Jones, The Ohio State University; Dr. Nina Jackson, Penn State University; Dr. Changlu Wang, Rutgers University; and Dr. Zachary DeVries, North Carolina State University.

Prominent PMPs presenting during the well-attended Business Track sessions included Adam Vannest, Northwest Exterminating, Marietta, Ga.; Keith Robinson, ABC Home & Commercial Services, Dallas, Texas; Travis Aggson, American Pest Management, Manhattan, Kan.; Jeff White, BedBug Central, Lawrenceville, N.J.; Dr. Judy Black, Rollins Inc., Atlanta, Ga.; Jeff King, The Pest Rangers, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Dr. Richard Cooper, Terminix, New Brunswick, N.J.; Ross Treleven, Sprague Pest Solutions, Seattle, Wash.; Jay Everitt, Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions, St. Louis, Mo.; Tom Jarzynka, Massey Services, Orlando, Fla.; Adam Witt, Witt Pest Management, Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Brandon Gile, Platinum Pest Solutions, Chicago, Ill.

Other industry stakeholders appearing on the program included Dr. Brittany Campbell, staff entomologist, National Pest Management Association; Amanda Tongue, account manager, Vault Communications; Dr. Marcia Anderson, environmental specialist, Environmental Protection Agency; and Susannah Reese, program coordinator, Northeastern IPM Center.

Dr. Susan Jones of The Ohio State University discussed “Tracking Bed Bugs Using Proteins and New Techniques.”

“The educational needs of the bed bug market continue to evolve and we worked closely with BedBug Central to address those needs when putting together the most comprehensive educational program in the history of the event,” observed Stumpf. “We have a very collaborative relationship with BedBug Central and we began working on the program nine months in advance of the program. Jeff White of BedBug Central and our own Jim Fredericks did a great job putting together this year’s program.”

In addition to BedBug Central, other corporate sponsors of the three-day event included Allergy Technologies, a platinum sponsor; MGK, a gold sponsor; and AMVAC, ConidioTec, EcoRaider and Heat Assault, all silver sponsors.

The Global Bed Bug Summit has always had a “relaxed vibe,” DiJoseph said. “It doesn’t take itself too seriously. We devote a lot of time and energy to creating a high-quality educational program and trade show, but we also like to have some fun,” as evidenced by a Beer Tasting event in EXPO Central and a Night Out with the Experts at the end of the day on the second day of the event. “We like to think of the Global Bed Bug Summit as being formally informal,” DiJoseph says with a laugh.

Plans are already in the works for the 2020 edition of the Global Bed Bug Summit, which will be the 10th anniversary of the event. The event will be held Dec. 1-3 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown. In-depth coverage of individual educational sessions presented at the Global Bed Bug Summit will appear throughout the year in PCT magazine.

The author is publisher of PCT magazine.