When my family moved about nine years ago, my husband framed a couple of pieces of art for my new office. One, from May 1998, was the published announcement of me being hired as an assistant editor by PCT. The other was my first column in PCT, which I wrote in April 1999. (Apparently it took me a year to get the nerve up to write for this space!) I have other special pieces on my walls — photos, awards and other mementos — but those two PCT clips remind me every day how much I’ve learned and grown over the past 22 years.
My first column was titled “Going to Extremes.” The examples I discussed — both of which we reported on in that issue — were about a PMP who released a bug bomb INSIDE a customer’s home and the success of NPCA(!) Legislative Day. I drew a comparison between the two: “These are prime examples of the diverse nature of the pest control market,” I wrote. “On one hand there are folks who do nothing to better their companies. On the other hand, we have people who are truly interested in bettering their industry.”
While working on this issue, that huge dichotomy struck me again. This month’s cover story, “We’re Still a Fan!” reports on a survey published last year by USA Today that found being a pest management professional was one of the worst jobs in America. Why? “Beyond dealing with roaches, rats, termites, and more, pest control workers must often bend and crawl their way into tight spaces to search for and eliminate pests,” the article said. “Many of these workers also must use pesticides, which are toxic and can be extremely harmful if not handled properly.” While most involved in professional pest management would disagree with those sentiments, we must realize that despite our best efforts, at least some of the world has these perceptions about what we do every day.
Also in this issue, we feature an interview I did with NPMA CEO Dominique Stumpf and NPMA Senior Vice President Alexis Wirtz. I wanted to learn more about the upcoming PestWorld event, which for the first time in almost 90 years will be held virtually. Two things really struck me about that interview. The first was Dominique’s comment about how resilient this industry is, recalling how after 9/11 the industry still came together for the October convention in New Orleans even as other associations decided to cancel. I think that moment has resonated with many people in part because of how it illustrates the family-like relationships between PMPs and their colleagues.
The other comment that stuck with me days after our interview is something Alexis said. She said that no matter what NPMA did to prepare for an in-person show, there were still circumstances that would be out of NPMA’s control. What if everyone in the industry wanted the regular, in-person convention to happen, and we all did the necessary preparations, but the state or county shut down the hotel/convention hall prior to our arrival? All that time, effort and money spent would be for naught. So, “NPMA and the board had to take control of our destiny a bit,” she said.
At work and in your personal life there are always going to be ups and downs. We all run into good and bad situations; “extremes” if you will. As such, while no one knows what will happen in the weeks and months ahead, if you take control of your own destiny, you’ll be the better for it. Don’t like the perceptions in the USA Today article? Take control and change the opinions of the people you meet. Bummed about not heading to Nashville next month? Take control of the uncertainty you feel and spend a couple hours each day on Oct. 13-15 “walking” the PestWorld tradeshow floor.
Lately, I think many of us have felt like life is two steps forward, one step back. I know I have.
When things around you aren’t going the way you want, you can either wait for the situation to change or you can change the situation. That’s what NPMA and its board did — they took control of their own destiny. I’m going to do the same. Even though it won’t be the same as in years past, I look forward to “seeing” you at PestWorld next month!