The National Pest Management Association has made big changes to improve transparency, build partnerships and expand member services but its most daunting challenge may still lie ahead — finding a successor to CEO Bob Rosenberg. What does it all mean for NPMA and the industry-at-large?
As the “more seasoned” among us can attest, pest management today is not what it was several decades ago.
“It’s a very different industry and we need to be a different trade association to represent the needs of folks,” said Bob Rosenberg, chief executive officer of the National Pest Management Association.
That’s why in August 2011, NPMA began crafting a strategic plan. Three years later, it has turned reams of raw input from members into concrete actions that have re-energized and refocused the group.
PMPs, distributors, manufacturers and staff have coalesced around key priorities, while putting more support behind existing activities like regulatory advocacy, said Russ Ives, president-elect of the association and president of Rose Pest Solutions, Troy, Mich.
The process has sparked “a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of ideas,” said Kevin Pass, immediate past president of NPMA and president of Action Pest Control in Evansville, Ind. NPMA staff is “hitting on all cylinders,” and the results are “a lot of very valuable and meaningful benefits to the membership.”
About 30 initiatives support education, regulatory protection and growth, and fall into six major areas: visioning, right-sizing, stakeholder outreach, strategic partnering, improved governance and business operations, and enhanced member services.
All have the goal of “advancing the professionalism of the industry,” said Rosenberg.
What NPMA has achieved so far:
The plan — Creating a strategic plan is an accomplishment in itself. This involved surveying stakeholders and holding focus groups and meetings to identify goals and strategies, and prioritizing more than 100 tactics, said Rosenberg. Laura Simpson, a past president of NPMA and president of Dugas Pest Control of Baton Rouge, La., credits staff for developing “great ideas on how to address issues brought up by the membership.” For hot-button topics like pollinator health and product stewardship, the plan has created “a better understanding of what our responsibilities are” and “what our position should be” in terms of customer communications and continuing education, said Billy Tesh, president of NPMA and of Pest Management Systems Inc., Greensboro, N.C.
NPMA also has partnered with Bayer to develop Vision2020, an industry forecast that identifies emerging issues to help PMPs prepare for the future.
More people — Seven new staff members were added to implement new initiatives and deliver more technical and regulatory support. NPMA now has three Ph.D. entomologists — Jim Fredericks, Marcia Duke and Bennett Jordan — to provide advocacy, outreach through meetings, phone support and online training.
Also hired were an account executive to manage NPMA’s growing state association service, a manager to administer the QualityPro program, an associate director of member engagement, and a part-time executive assistant.
Getting “right-sized” was “one of our biggest accomplishments last year,” said Rosenberg. “We did all that within the constraints of the existing budgets.”
New structure — The association moved from a flat organization, where everyone reported to Rosenberg, to having four manager-led operating units. Finance is headed by CFO Gary McKenzie; the Professional Pest Management Alliance is run by Missy Henriksen, executive director and NPMA vice president of public affairs; member services (membership, marketing and meetings) is headed by COO Dominique Stumpf; and industry relations (legislative, regulatory, technical, state association management and QualityPro activities) is led by Chief Industry Relations Officer Andy Architect.
The idea was to build “a durable organization, one that would withstand a transition” (like Rosenberg’s pending retirement; see story below) and provide continuity and consistency for ongoing initiatives, as well as job security for staff members, said Rosenberg. Membership does not want a new executive vice president to come in and clean house, he said. “There’s too much institutional knowledge and talented people to let that happen,” Rosenberg added.
Planning for the Next NPMA Leader
One of the biggest initiatives of the National Pest Management Association’s strategic road map is succession planning. Chief Executive Officer Bob Rosenberg plans to retire from the organization at the end of 2015 after three years at the helm and more than 25 years at the association.
Rosenberg, who filled the spot left when former EVP Rob Lederer resigned, said the last four leadership changes didn’t have “the luxury of succession planning.” “This time it was predictable,” he said. “It felt like it should be a more orderly process.”
A committee, led by Chuck Tindol, president of Allgood Pest Solutions in Duluth, Ga., was formed to guide the transition. The group had its first meeting at PestWorld 2013 in Phoenix, where it developed a two-year timeline.
At Legislative Day in March, the committee refined the job description, developed education and experience requirements, and discussed the skill set desired in the next chief executive officer.
In March 2015, the position will be advertised, candidates vetted, and the interview process will begin. The new chief executive officer will attend PestWorld 2015, which will be held Oct. 21-24 in Nashville, and meet members. He or she will work in tandem with Rosenberg, taking the reins on Jan. 1, 2016.
The succession committee is weighing whether the next CEO should be an expert in trade association management, have first-hand pest management industry knowledge or have more of a public affairs/lobbying/political background.
“Until we see the individuals that apply, there’s no way to know who will get the job,” said Billy Tesh, president of NPMA and Pest Management Systems Inc., Greensboro, N.C. “We don’t want to narrow the scope of those applying.” He said one quality of the next EVP should be “that they listen and react, not dictate.”
The committee is updating the NPMA board of directors on the status of the process “to the degree that we can,” given the level of confidentiality that must take place, said Tindol. “There are internal candidates for the position,” he noted.
Earlier this year, Tindol surveyed NPMA staff, asking them to identify the characteristics, skills and abilities they’d like in a new leader. The employees are “passionate about our industry” and for them to continue to feel that way “it’s important they have a voice,” he explained.
Succession committee members represent diverse experiences and company sizes, said Tindol. They include those who’ve hired CEOs in the past and younger members who can bring fresh ideas to the process, he said.
In addition, Tindol interviewed seven industry icons to get their insights on the process and the attributes the committee should look for in candidates. “We discussed the future of the industry and how this hire could help navigate some of those future challenges,” Tindol said.
Tindol is doing a fine job to ensure a “thorough, transparent process” with the support of a “talented committee,” said Kevin Pass, immediate past president of NPMA and president of Action Pest Control, Evansville, Ind. It’s a “high expectation” committee; it will be tough to find someone to continue the culture that Rosenberg and the executive committee have created, he said.
How does Rosenberg feel about finding his successor? “It feels very good, actually,” he said. “There’s a very comforting certainty about the process. There will be a very diligent search for the right person. I think people can feel confident that we’re doing it the right way.”
Rosenberg, who will be 65 when the transition takes place, would like to stay involved in the industry in some capacity but, “I just don’t want to work until I’m 90.” And “there comes a time in every organization where you need fresh, new, young blood,” he said.
According to a 2014-15 Association Compensation and Benefits Survey by the American Society of Association Executives, the average tenure for an association’s top leader is 9.4 years.
Rosenberg’s goal is to “leave NPMA to my successor in a condition which I’m proud of” and that will “allow for a smooth and good transition.” In his opinion, the association has never had “a more experienced and more capable group (of employees) as we have now.”
Better governance — NPMA abolished its constitution and approved new bylaws, which permit electronic voting. This offers the “opportunity to increase stakeholder involvement,” said Ives.
In July, it approved a comprehensive policy manual to replace outdated documents. Now, two dozen policies covering staff, board members, past presidents, spokespeople, budgeting, travel and conflict of interest issues are in one, online place where anyone can review them.
New committees for succession planning and finance and audit ensure an orderly transition and independent oversight. Transparency is the goal. “We want full disclosure, and that’s the way it should be,” said Tesh. “An association should be fully open to its members.” Virtually every meeting is open to members; once final, financial reports, audits, and committee and board meeting minutes are published online for all to view. Members don’t have to call and request a copy, said Tesh.
The emphasis on transparency is both “philosophical” and a “management style,” explained Rosenberg. He wants the association’s 7,000 member companies “to know what NPMA is doing, why it’s doing it, what to expect” and understand that decisions are not made on “arbitrary policy.”
“There were no directives to become more transparent; it’s just one of the core values we’ve tried to instill in the organization,” Rosenberg said. Transparency is “per se, a good thing.”
More supplier involvement — At PestWorld this month, NPMA members will vote whether to add three supplier positions to the board of directors, a move already approved by the board itself. The new representatives would serve two-year terms and include a chemical manufacturer nominated by NPMA, a chemical or equipment distributor selected by the United Producers, Formulators and Distributors Association (UPFDA), and an allied member in a business other than chemical manufacturing or chemical or equipment distribution nominated by NPMA.
Rosenberg is optimistic members will approve the additions, which he says will strengthen the organization. NPMA has had one supplier member on its board for several years and it’s been “a very positive experience,” he said. Suppliers bring a “slightly different outlook. By having more, we get more of that perspective.” Rosenberg explained. “It’s hard to imagine NPMA doing what it does without the support it gets from the supplier community,” he added. Some of that is money and sponsorships, but suppliers also bring “a lot of knowledge and sophistication” to the table, he said.
In addition, a new Suppliers’ Council gives manufacturers and distributers a stronger voice in the committee system.
The push to expand supplier representation came from identifying the underserved communities within NPMA. The issue was discussed years ago but wasn’t well received until now, said Rosenberg.
“I think we have a real opportunity to work more closely with NPMA,” said UPFDA President Tommy Reeves after the group’s 2013 conference where Rosenberg shared ways to improve supplier representation.
Steps also have been taken to make meetings more supplier friendly. At the UPFDA Spring Conference in April, Alexis Wirtz, NPMA director of meetings and exhibits, said regional meetings will feature new locations and day patterns, increased exhibitor visibility, and improved food and social functions. PestWorld will have a “Suppliers’ Connection Lounge” and a “Black Friday” promotion to drive exhibit hall traffic on the final day of the show.
More collaboration — A Super Committee of board and committee chairs is coordinating efforts and addressing issues that are too big for any one committee, like pollinator health, online training, and job recruitment and retention. It’s helping reduce project overlap and maximize committee skills to develop stronger products for members, said Ives. Rosenberg called this committee the association’s “think tank.”
The Diversity Committee promotes the industry to ethnic groups who may not consider it for career opportunities, said Pass. A speaker at NPMA Legislative Day in March made the business case for diversity and “why you ought to be looking at different ways of recruiting so you’re not missing 20 percent of the population,” he said. In September, the committee launched a survey to identify members’ diversity and inclusion needs; the results should help companies attract, involve and retain diverse talent pools.
To better support providers of commercial pest management, NPMA hosted the Commercial Market Leaders Summit in September, which brought together 35 high-level executives from leading companies. The group identified the challenges facing this business sector and how to work collectively to address them, said Rosenberg. One hot topic: How to harmonize global food safety standards so technicians don’t face different requirements for similar problems at different accounts. A draft strategy is expected in October.
NPMA Staff Reorganized
Earlier this year, NPMA was re-structured to ensure the organization was “durable and poised to meet the future expectations of our members,” said CEO Bob Rosenberg. The following staff transitions occurred:
- Andy Architect was promoted to chief industry relations officer with responsibility over all industry-facing activities, including technical affairs, legislative and regulatory affairs, legal, QualityPro, state association management and state association relations.
- Dominique Stumpf was promoted to chief operating officer, with responsibility over internal NPMA operations, including meetings and conventions, membership, marketing and human resources.
- Gary McKenzie continues to serve as chief financial officer with responsibility over the finances of NPMA and affiliated organizations.
- Missy Henriksen continues to run the Professional Pest Management Association, which is a related, but independent organization.
- Janay Rickwalder was elevated to vice president of membership and marketing.
- Jim Fredericks was promoted to vice president of technical and regulatory affairs.
- Megan Moloney was promoted to meetings/exhibits manager.
“In my 25 years with the association, NPMA is fortunate to have the most talented group of people with whom I’ve ever worked. I’m certain that, with these adjustments, NPMA has built a team that will continue to lead and serve the industry with distinction for years to come,” Rosenberg added. “I am confident that the transition will be seamless and ask you to join me in congratulating our staff on the impressive contributions they make to our association and our industry.”
The association recently also made seven new hires, including:
- Bennett Jordan, Ph.D. — Staff scientist/entomologist
- Marcia Duke, Ph.D. — Director of regulatory affairs
- Matt Coffindaffer — QualityPro promotions and program manager
- Jessica Dominguez — Associate director of member engagement
- Lindsey McCormick — Assistant manager, membership and state events
- Jean Neun — Executive assistant
- Rachel Patania — Meetings coordinator
More willingness to partner — Building strategic partnerships is a change in management philosophy for NPMA.
For example, a partnership with the Entomological Society of America (ESA) to promote the Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE) program was discussed for 10 years but only came about recently, said Rosenberg. The initiative has been “really successful” with significant member participation, he noted.
NPMA is eliminating friction or perceptions that the two groups’ credentialing programs compete against one another. It is marketing and promoting the program to members, and providing exam prep courses through its new online learning center. ESA determines curricula and develops and proctors the exam. “When it comes to certifying entomologists, they know what they’re doing,” said Rosenberg.
NPMA worked closely with ESA to develop an international component of the ACE program, which will launch this month. While ACE certification is valuable to U.S. and Canadian PMPs, “the demand is even greater overseas where there is a lot less in the way of regulations governing training and certification,” he said.
ESA will recognize the recipient of the ACE Professional Award at PestWorld. This honor recognizes a PMP who has held the ACE certification for at least three consecutive years and has exemplified the professionalism spelled out in the ACE Code of Ethics.
Another partner is BedBug Central, with whom NPMA hosted the Global Bed Bug Summit in 2013. Another summit is planned for Jan. 7-9 in Denver.
A stronger message — Unveiled last year, NPMA’s new logo features a shield around a person and structure, graphically depicting the industry’s protection of person and property. The new tagline — “Our mission is your protection” — underscores how NPMA protects its members through advocacy, education and business opportunities, as well as reinforces members’ mission to protect customers.
The idea of being “newer, stronger, better, more member-service-oriented is what drove us to change the logo,” said Simpson. It speaks “very much to what we need out of our association at this point in time,” said Ives.
More services — Career Connection (careers.npmapestworld.org) is a multi-faceted, online program to help members attract and retain qualified employees. It has a job posting board and three customizable recruitment videos that promote career opportunities in professional pest control. The center will be continuously improved and partnerships explored to beef up its abilities, said Pass.
The Online Learning Center (www.pestworld.learningzen.com) offers more than 20 on-demand courses, including those geared to ACE exam preparation, bed bugs and pollinator health. More than 1,000 people attended the module on how to stay compliant with new OSHA hazards communications, said Rosenberg.
OSHA Toolbox (www.qualityprotools.org/osha-toolbox/getting-started) provides “one-stop shopping” for federal and state occupational safety and health requirements, said Rosenberg. This isn’t advocacy; it is knowing what regulations are out there so PMPs stay in compliance, he said.
MyNPMA (My.NPMAPestWorld.org) is a members-only portal that lets PMPs connect in real time, network with colleagues, participate in discussions, get access to digital resources and share knowledge.
To help PMPs navigate the issue of pollinator health, NPMA created Pollinator-health.org, a consumer-facing website that explores the different pollinators, pollination, threats to pollinators, stinging pests and activities to help pollinators, like planting bee-friendly gardens.
At NPMAPestWorld.org (npmapestworld.org/publicpolicy/neonicotinoid.cfm), PMPs can download pollinator health logos, door hangers, statement stuffers and leaflets. NPMA has “a five-person team that works on pollinator health,” covering regulatory, legislative and public relations issues, said Rosenberg.
Looking Ahead, NPMA has Prioritized these Projects:
More revenue growth — “To sustain the organization, we need revenue,” said Rosenberg. NPMA’s most significant sources of revenue are meetings and dues, and “I don’t think there’s a big appetite for a huge dues increase,” he said.
Manufacturer consolidation means the pool of sponsors is smaller. “We haven’t seen a significant retrenchment of supplier and sponsorship dollars, but probably if there’s further consolidation that’s likely to happen,” said Rosenberg.
Consolidation among members also has an impact. A dues cap exists for companies with $100 million-plus revenue. So, if a $100 million company buys a $5 million company, “that’s $5 million of dues-generated revenue that we lose,” explained Rosenberg. However, some larger acquirers have “voluntarily agreed to pay additional money to compensate for that loss,” he said.
The association does get “relatively small sums of money” from the ACE program and newsletters, but it is looking for other sources, said Rosenberg. A “stable revenue stream is the goal.”
One potential revenue stream is the management of regional pest control associations. NPMA currently manages eight: Connecticut, Kentucky, Colorado, Illinois, Canada, New Mexico, North Carolina and Ontario. “We’ll probably be in a position by the end of the year to offer the service more widely,” said Rosenberg.
NPMA knows the industry and how to produce meetings and newsletters, said Tesh. It has a “very good model” that has resulted in better service and a lower price for the North Carolina association, he said.
Better infrastructure — By spring, NPMA should complete a major database conversion that will allow it to provide better service and tools to members. The current system was built 25 years ago and is “one of the biggest struggles we’ve had,” admits Rosenberg. The new database program will improve operation efficiency, and let NPMA improve its website, offer database services to regional associations, and develop a national clearinghouse for continuing education.
“If you’ve been disenfranchised (from the association in the past), this is the time to get back in the game,” said Scott Steckel, vice president of Varment Guard Environmental Services and a member of the NPMA board of directors. He spoke at the Greater Cleveland Pest Control Association meeting in May. “Your vote counts; your input matters. It’s a new day and it’s a bright day,” he said.
Ives cited an “an energy and engagement” at NPMA that’s “invigorating.” Pass said PMPs will “glean new ideas and new ways to do things in your business,” as well as develop professionally. “You may not receive a paycheck for (your involvement), but you will benefit from it,” he vowed.
The industry has grown from 18 percent to 30 percent consumer market saturation, said Tesh. The “transformation that’s occurred has been amazing” and NPMA “has been really responsible for helping” achieve this, he said.
Tesh said 393 individual members are serving on committees this year. “That’s almost 400 people putting their time and effort on committees to make sure this industry moves forward,” he said.
The author is a frequent contributor to PCT magazine She can be reached at email@example.com.