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Paul Hardy: 2001 Professional Of The Year

Departments - Employee Management, Employee Management

Orkin’s one and only Paul Hardy is a trusted adviser, mentor and colleague for many in the industry.

| January 2, 2002

It’s well after five on a Friday afternoon, and more often than not you’re likely to find Paul Hardy is still busy at work. The technical director of Orkin Pest Control does, after all, have quite a big job. Strategizing new products, fielding questions and putting on seminars are just a few of his regular duties. And besides all that, his phone rings practically off the hook.

But more than being busy, Hardy is also dedicated. Whether answering calls from Orkin technicians or giving advice to industry colleagues, Hardy shares his time and is accessible. He’s available 24/7 to Orkin employees, and he spends many of his off hours “tinkering” with new products and developing better control techniques. Perhaps that’s why he’s considered a valued resource not only by the thousands of Orkin employees throughout the country, but also by countless other technicians, corporate leaders and manufacturer representatives, all who call on Hardy for his trusted advice, valuable opinions and time-tested wisdom. And his up-front, no-nonsense style doesn’t hurt much either.

In February of this year, Hardy celebrated his 40th year with Orkin Pest Control, the same company he has worked for since he entered the industry in 1961. This kind of corporate loyalty is almost non-existent these days; however Hardy is an uncommon professional in the field. Perhaps it is his long-term dedication to the industry that has made Hardy so admired throughout the field. It was also the basis for his being selected PCT’s 2001 Professional of the Year.

With a range of experience that’s second to none, it’s no wonder professionals throughout the industry look to Hardy for advice and counsel. Besides being an especially adept trainer and mentor, Hardy is also a product innovator, responsible for coming up with a number of important product and service ideas that have benefited Orkin and the industry as a whole.

In his 40 years with Orkin Pest Control, Hardy has held just about every role in the pest control field, including technician, supervisor, branch manager, inspector, regional manager and director. Through the years his responsibilities have grown, as has his knowledge base and expertise. Today, he serves as technical director for the company, with responsibilities for the company’s termite services, equipment selection and corporate litigation. Yet he also still manages to spend time with technicians in the field, and he keeps close tabs on market trends at the consumer level.

This year Hardy also celebrated his 41st wedding anniversary with his wife, Judy. His interest in the industry has rubbed off on his family: He calls his wife “The First Lady of Pest Control” (see related story below), and three of his four children have worked or continue to work in the pest control industry. But his busy schedule aside, Hardy also makes time to spend with his five grandchildren.

AN EAGERNESS TO LEARN. J. (Jimmy) Paul Hardy entered the pest control business in 1961 at the age of 18, as a termite technician in the Leesburg, Fla., branch. He had decided not to go to college, because, he says, “I didn’t think I needed it.” As history would prove, Hardy was right. John Neel, who ran the Leesburg office, had hired Hardy and he imparted the importance of having a solid industry knowledge. So Hardy took it upon himself to learn about pests and their control, purchasing a copy of Truman’s Scientific Guide to Pest Control Operations for $17.25, even though he only made $.75 an hour. “I went home and read it and came back into the office and spouted out what I had learned,” Hardy recalled. Neel quickly recognized Hardy’s keen interest and potential in the field. “John said, ‘You ought to go and teach.’” So Hardy tried his hand at training and found he enjoyed it. Soon, in addition to his regular duties, Hardy was holding weekend certification training courses for Orkin employees throughout Florida, and eventually, for all of the Southern states.

In addition to his regular duties, Hardy continued to train employees on weekends for most of his career at Orkin, and not surprisingly, he quickly rose through the ranks, serving as supervisor, manager and branch manager in various Florida offices. In 1971 he moved to Orkin’s headquarters in Atlanta after being promoted to service manager for the Southeast Region. It was a new position created especially for Hardy, in which he traveled to every Orkin branch in the country, analyzing its sales, service and production practices. From there Hardy continued to gain new responsibilities, eventually holding such roles as regional training director, corporate training manager, corporate technical manager and service technical manager.

Over the years Hardy has trained thousands of professionals throughout the industry, including such well-known industry names as Norman Goldenberg, Charles Steinmetz and Harvey Massey. (Incidentally, all three are previous winners of PCT’s Professional of the Year Award.) When asked about his knack for training, Hardy says it’s important to stick to the basics. “The best way to train people is to show them what it is that’s to be done,” he says. Also important is letting people practice what they’ve learned and then providing feedback.

Goldenberg, who is vice president of government affairs and technical services for Terminix International, was working in Orkin’s Jacksonville, Fla., branch when Hardy, then a termite supervisor, trained him. At the time, Goldenberg had only been out of school six months. “He was very effective and proficient then,” Goldenberg said. “It seemed to me as a newly emerging entomologist that I had a very dedicated guy working with me.”

INDUSTRY INNOVATIONS. Hardy’s dedication to the industry didn’t stop at training, however. In addition, Hardy has made a number of important product contributions as the “point man” behind new product and service developments for Orkin. Today, he says, “I spend most of my time developing stuff that helps others,” he says. And it appears that Hardy’s interest in product development is also something of a passion. “On weekends, rather than sitting around and eating a bag of potato chips I will go out and try out a new fungicide,” he says.

Hardy explains that product development involves not only keeping a close eye on consumer trends, but also working with manufacturers, suppliers and distributors as they create new products, and helping them bring products to market in the most effective ways. “You have to have a keen awareness of the industry so you can predict what products and services will be needed, before they’re needed,” Hardy explained. He describes his role as defining the “scope of service” for new products; i.e. spelling out how, when, where and why a certain product is to be used, and how it’s incorporated into the company’s control program.

For example, in 1993, Hardy worked closely with DowElanco (today known as Dow AgroSciences) representatives to help develop the Sentricon® Termite Colony Elimination System. Three years later, he worked with FMC to develop the FirstLine Termite Defense System. And today, he’s working with BASF on an experimental use permit for Subterfuge, the termite bait originally developed, but never sold commercially, by American Cyanamid.

“[Manufacturers] make up experimental use labels, then somebody like Orkin will take them and apply them,” Hardy says. “From the actual applications we determine the best way to use a particular substance.” Furthermore, Hardy adds, “we’re helping them learn the best way to market that product.”

Besides working with manufacturers to refine their new products, Hardy also has come up with some innovative treatment regimens that have changed the way pest control is done. For example, in 1989 Hardy came up with the Perimeter Defense Service for pest control, which was designed to move pesticides from the inside of structures to the outside. “Customers were beginning to have concerns with pesticides in and around homes,” Hardy said, “so I put together the first written procedures of perimeter defense.” By 1991, all Orkin branches implemented the Perimeter Defense Service, and other companies throughout the country soon followed suit with similar programs.

Many of Hardy’s most widely known contributions have been in the area of termite control, and today he is considered by many the nation’s foremost termite guru. One of his most noted projects has been revamping the standard control procedures for subterranean termites to include the use of wet and dry foams, baits and borates, along with traditional termiticides. Hardy has also educated thousands of PCOs and contractors on home building practices that can aggravate termite problems, leading to problematic situations and continued callbacks.

A TRUSTED ADVISER. Perhaps because Hardy has trained and worked with so many people throughout the industry, he is also highly sought after for his advice and opinions on many control issues. He is available at all hours to receive calls from anyone at Orkin, but many of his calls also comes from colleagues at competing companies, many of whom are former students. What’s more, colleagues know that when they ask for Hardy’s opinion, that’s exactly what they’ll get. “Some people will tell you what they think you want to hear vs. what the real story is,” says Hardy. “I think that frankness, honesty, and fairness always helps...others will listen, and it guides them.”

Hardy’s co-workers at Orkin especially value his tireless dedication to the industry. Dr. Harlan Feese, vice president of technical services for Orkin Pest Control, has worked with Hardy since 1992. Feese says Hardy’s unmatched work ethic, technical abilities and especially the respect he earns from peers are some of the key traits that have made Hardy such a talented innovator. “Paul knows what will work and what won’t work in our industry,” Feese said. What’s more, “he knows what’s going on on the front lines.”

Hardy says it’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years since he entered the industry, as his career has been full of rewarding opportunities. But he adds wistfully, the industry’s best years are yet to come. “We’ve got technology coming that is far greater than we’ve ever had in the past...I probably won’t be able to enjoy all that’s going to be developed in the coming forty,” he reflects. “I kind of hate that.” He says technician jobs will continue to become more desirable, the bar for professionalism will continue to be raised and more people will be interested in starting pest control businesses. “There are more bugs than there have ever been,” he notes, “and more people don’t want to kill them (themselves).”

Hardy is humble about his successes over the years, explaining that his dedication stems from truly enjoying what he does. “I don’t think I’ve ever been bored in my entire working career.” What’s more, he’s made it a daily habit to continually increase his industry knowledge. “Some people go to work for a company and work real hard for the first year and learn everything, and then repeat it 39 more times,” he said. Alternatively, he adds, they have the opportunity to learn something new every year. “I chose the second option.” This explains Hardy’s lifelong motto: “If you are doing today what you were doing yesterday, you are actually backing up,” he says. “We are in a changing world. You should not get up in the morning with the intent to do what you did yesterday.”

The author is former managing editor of PCT and a frequent contributing author. She can be reached at lmckenna@pctonline.com.

THE FIRST LADY OF PEST CONTROL

As Orkin’s “Answer Man,” Paul Hardy’s expertise has been in great demand from a wide array of people throughout the country the last 40 years. Whether it be testifying in a property damage lawsuit or giving a presentation at a conference, Hardy’s various responsibilities at Orkin have required him to put in long hours both in the office and on the road.

Hardy will be the first to tell you that his success at Orkin would not be possible without the support of his family, especially his wife Judy, who has been married to Paul for 41 years. Paul affectionately calls Judy “The First Lady Of Pest Control.”

Judy has been with Paul throughout all of his professional career, beginning when Paul worked in an orange grove in Leesburg, Fla. The couple began dating in their teens and was married at age 18. Soon after, Paul began his tenure at Orkin.

Judy says she knew early on that she would have to sacrifice time spent together with Paul because of his job’s demands. “I understood his needs and wants, and what made him happy made me happy. However, it was hard for the kids because they didn’t understand that his career came first.”

Providing support for Paul has meant that Judy has been there for all the ups and downs of Paul’s career. “I know that working at the office can get him stressed out, but when he is out helping technicians and customers he is happy as a lark,” she says. “I can tell as soon as he comes home if he has been working in the office or not.”

While Paul was moving through the ranks at Orkin, Judy was busy at home taking care of the couple’s four children. Much like Paul, Judy has also been committed to her career and company, having spent the last 23 years as an employee of Kmart.

Although the hours spent apart are sometimes difficult for Judy, she says she has enjoyed many Orkin perks, such as getting the opportunity to travel, by land or by air, throughout the country with Paul. She also enjoys NPMA-sponsored spouse events, and the highlight of her travels was a recent trip to Hawaii. Judy added that at all of the conferences the couple attend together, “People come up to me and tell me how much they respect and admire Paul and that really makes happy.”

PAUL HARDY’S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Company: Orkin Pest Control

Location of Headquarters: Atlanta, Ga.

Number of Years in the Industry: 40

Career Highlights:

• Has trained industry members, state pest control regulatory commissioners, EPA staffers, wood preservative industry members, construction industry members, pest control distributors and manufacturers.

• Assisted in developing the industry’s first uniform termiticide application tool, B&G’s VersaTool, as well as a foaming machine and foaming procedures for termite control.

• Assisted in developing and designing the flowmeter technology especially for the pest control industry.

• Developed the Perimeter Defense Service for pest control.

• Developed the Deck Guard deck treatment and Exterior Wood Protection programs.

• Came up with the “Fourth Barrier” for subterranean termite control, involving the use of borates.

• Developed the Cellulose Insulation Program using borate-treated insulation.

• Designed the Termiticide Injection System, eliminating the need for bulk mixing tanks.

• Developed an alternative to fumigation for preventing and controlling drywood termites.

• Co-Chairman – NPMA Wood Destroying Organism Committee.

• Chairman – Georgia Pest Control Association Wood Destroying Organism Committee.

• Frequent speaker at state association and NPMA meetings.

• Frequent appearances on television talk shows.

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