"The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.” - John F. Kennedy
The words from the 35th president of the United States aptly describe what pest management professionals seek to do every day as they protect consumers’ homes and businesses from pests.
They take what they have been taught and seek to uncover the truth of why and how pests can infest even the most pest-proof homes and the cleanest of commercial facilities.
And if you happen to be a new technician going through the onboarding process at Allgood Pest Solutions then you will encounter a man whose passion for education burns strongly and who generously celebrates the achievements of others who he has had a hand in teaching.
THE EARLY YEARS
Dennis Judy didn’t plan on a career in pest management growing up on a tiny farm — the closest town was 12 miles away — in West Virginia. Instead, he pursued a degree in education at Fairmont State University.
Following graduation Judy landed a job teaching junior high school students for five years in the tiny hamlet of Enterprise, West Virginia. He was the only male teacher in the school and Judy enjoyed the one class per grade arrangement where he could see first-hand the progress his students were making.
And while Judy enjoyed teaching and found it very rewarding, the monetary compensation would not support a family and he took a summer job selling encyclopedias where he made more in three months than he did the entire school year. He left teaching to join World Book Encyclopedia as a district manager for more than a year before deciding to turn a new page on his career path.
The page Judy turned led him to respond to a help wanted ad for a sales position with the Orkin Pest Control branch in Clarksburg, West Virginia.
“I had no idea what the pest management industry was about,” says Judy. “A bug was a bug but they said all the right things in the ad to make me call.”
Judy started selling termite jobs and he took so well to the task that Orkin offered him a management career path — something he was eager to take on.
“They offered me the branch manager position for the smallest Orkin operation in the state — Parkersburg — and I was more than happy to accept it,” says Judy.
Judy’s performance in his new role earned the attention of the company’s upper brass and started a succession of career moves that took him to Orkin outposts in Beckley and Charleston, West Virginia; Pennsauken, New Jersey; upstate New York; and eventually Atlanta.
At each location Judy made his mark but it was at one of his early stops that Judy met a man — Bob Hampton — who made a significant impact on how Judy would develop his own leadership style.
Judy met Hampton when the veteran pest professional was serving as Orkin’s branch manager in Charleston, West Virginia, and Judy was learning the ins and outs of being a first-time manager.
“Bob was always there for his coworkers with a kind word and a willingness to share his knowledge,” says Judy. “He taught me to do things for the right reasons and always support those around you.”
Judy recalls a story where he needed to repair his branch office’s one and only termite drill and he went to Charleston to seek Hampton’s assistance.
“He said come on down and we will fix it,” says Judy. “When I arrived he took me back to the shop and said there are the parts you need and I’m around if you have any questions. He provided the resources and was there to answer questions but wanted me to learn how to do it and that has stuck with me ever since.”
Providing people with the necessary resources, teaching them how to get the job done and then stepping back watching them meet and exceed their potential defines Judy’s approach to training.
“Today’s hires will be tomorrow’s leaders,” says Judy, who oversees training for 11 Allgood branch offices. “New hires don’t need to know everything about bugs when they walk in the door — we can teach them that. I would rather focus on teaching them how to be good employees, good communicators and service-oriented.”
“Dennis is a valuable asset and has been active with the GPCA ... and currently serves on the Education Committee,” says Executive Director Connie Rogers. “Dennis is a founding member of the GPCA Train the Trainer program that he co-wrote to train new instructors for the industry. Our member volunteers are the heart of our association and we couldn’t do it without them.”
THE ALLGOOD YEARS. Judy heads up Allgood’s Right Start Program that from day one emphasizes learning about the company’s culture and core values along with driver safety, customer service and pest management skills.
“We always hear that we have good people and that is a reflection of the culture,” says Judy. “You must have a strong culture to build and sustain a good company.”
Judy’s training methods are based on practical, common-sense approaches and could be best described as a guided discovery to the facts. “People learn better when they believe they did it themselves,” he says. “It encourages them to want to achieve more.”
Chuck Tindol, partner of Allgood Pest Solutions, says Judy is not a guy who just teaches from a book or PowerPoint presentation but rather speaks from experience — a skill that resonates well with new hires.
“He is a teacher at heart and whenever you ask him a question he will help you find a way to discover the answer,” says Tindol. “He engages people in the learning process and knows that just having people sit there in a training session won’t yield the desired results.”
And how does achieving those desired training results translate on the business side of the ledger? Tindol says nearly 60 percent of the company’s new business comes from satisfied client referrals. “That only happens if you have well-trained knowledgeable team members who enjoy what they do,” adds Tindol.
Allgood co-worker Glen Ramsey, B.C.E., says Judy’s knack for asking the right questions and helping new technicians arrive at a solution on their own is a gift.
“He is a true servant-leader and enjoys seeing the success of others who he has trained,” says Ramsey. “He allows people to learn at their own pace and shares experiences to help you get where you want to go even if you think you can’t get there.”
Ramsey experienced first-hand the teaching methods that have proved so successful when he joined Allgood five years ago from the University of Georgia.
“He gave me the time and space to adapt to the business side of what we do,” says Ramsey. “He puts people and the company in the best position to succeed and puts in the extra time to make sure it is done right.”