Editor’s note: NaturZone Pest Control, Sarasota, Fla., was profiled in PESPWire, EPA's quarterly e-bulletin of the agency's Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program
SARASOTA, Fla. — NaturZone was founded in 1988 with the primary philosophy of using the least toxic pest controls and implementing the basic principles of IPM.
The company was bought in 2004 by Doug Longfellow, a more than 20-year veteran of one of the larger UK-based pest management companies. Longfellow now serves as NaturZone Pest Control President, and manages the company at its headquarters in Sarasota, Fla.
Longfellow has expanded on the early philosophies of IPM by building the company up to qualify as a PESP Gold Member. He maintains that two of his major strategies: (1) implementing “green IPM” and (2) hard,consistent work, have paid off in growing revenues year-to-year.
Below is a brief Q&A with Longfellow.
Q. How did you become knowledgeable about IPM?
A: I became aware of IPM because a competitor who I respected was involved with it. At the same time, I was looking for ways to give our green program more credibility to the public. As the green movement takes hold, I wanted to find strategies to demonstrate our green program, its credibility, and its effectiveness, to the public.
Q: What approaches do you take to educate on IPM?
A: We focus a larger proportion of sales in education where we find it very useful to belong to the trade associations such as Building Officers Management Association (BOMA). At these and other associations, we put on educational seminars to property and facility managers responsible for commercial building pest management control practices. We have “why to’s” and “how to’s” about IPM in our seminars. Topics can include, but aren’t limited, to “why and how to properly conduct a pest inspection,” “things that most attract pests,” or “tips in maintaining a property to minimize pest infestations.” It takes a lot of continuous education to keep property and facility managers up to date and ahead with IPM and the latest techniques. We also hand out pamphlets.
Q: What new technologies are you incorporating into your IPM approaches?
A: The major thing we are now doing is to move away from pesticidal treatment to heat remediation in the removal of bed bugs. It takes too much pesticide application to get rid of bed bugs otherwise.
Q: What trends have you noticed in Florida regarding infestations?
A: The major problem we have in Florida is invasive ant species. Basically, these are a species that can create super colonies which we call around here the “Caribbean Crazy Ant.” These ants multiply at such a rate that they can take over a landscape. Even if we put pesticides around a building structure, and ants die, the remaining ants who are living will build a “bone bridge” of the dead ants. They will then cross the bone bridge and get into the building structure. For our clients who have nearby adjacent areas of woods, it is particularly difficult. We don’t have an answer quite yet. So, we’re experimenting with the University of Florida on different techniques and
Q: What advice do you have for other pest management professionals?
A: IPM is something we, as an industry, we need to embrace. We need to better demonstrate to the public that they have many viable options for pest management - and do not have to always resort to spraying chemicals. Additionally, we need to demonstrate to the public our standards. In that regard, we have our own in-house training program for our technicians. We also adapt and certify in the national IPM association quality program as well as PESP gold membership. This is because we want to use, implement, and communicate that we have the highest standards of operations possible. Our business is audited so that we demonstrate we have the credentialing to be operating an IPM-related pest management business.
Q. What advice would you give to clients about pest proofing their buildings as they prepare for fall and winter?
A: Similar to IPM, I would recommend the following these steps:
- Inspect and monitor buildings before any treatment.
- Prevent infestations with exterior inspections and treatments at the appropriate levels to prevent bugs from coming in.
- Pest-proof the outside of buildings - keep cracks and slits in a building structure closed; do a door sweep for large doors that are kept open.
- Educate the client that IPM is a shared responsibility, not just the pest control guy’s job.
- We also have to educate our technicians not only on what to say, but how to communicate these messages in a nonoffensive manner to customers.
What is different with IPM is that the methodology forces a reliance on communication, education, and teamwork.
For more information visit NaturZone Pest Control at pestcontrolsolutionflorida.com.