August PCT included “Commercial Innovation Forum Promotes Proactive Pest Management,” coverage of Bayer’s recent Commercial Innovation Forum, a two-day meeting that addressed challenges posed by German cockroaches in commercial accounts and launched Maxforce Impact Roach Gel Bait. Below is a slideshow of photos taken at the event.
Editor’s note: David Burkus, assistant professor of management, Oral Roberts University, spoke at the Top 100 Awards Ceremony and Executive Summit about innovation. His presentation, “The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas,” featured an approach designed to help leaders drive innovation and creativity. This article discusses how those in the pest management industry innovate in their businesses.
Want to grow your business to the next level or prevent being crushed by competitors? Innovate. A 2013 survey by Accenture found 93 percent of executives felt their company’s long-term success depended on its ability to innovate. Eighteen percent ranked innovation as their top strategic priority.
Firms on PCT’s Top 100 list are no exception. From tweaking existing processes to developing game-changing application approaches, innovation drives their success.
Even smaller organizations can — and should — dedicate resources to innovation, said Drew Marshall, principal of Princeton, N.J.-based Primed Associates, which helps companies develop innovation-capable cultures. Market advantages can disappear overnight for companies not thinking ahead, he said.
Marshall generally suggests 70 percent of a firm’s invested dollars be targeted for incrementally improving business processes; 20 percent on creating upgrades to existing services/products with new capabilities, functionality and value; and 10 percent to developing brand-new, transformational innovations.
Truly Nolen in Tucson spends more on the latter, said President Scott Nolen. The company has its own research and development workshop and full-time team, led by Alan Prevost.
The team works with employees and industry partners to develop better ways to place and apply product. It created a CO2-powered mister — the Bed Bug Tornado — to improve delivery of product to cracks and crevices to control bed bugs, and is exploring ways to improve insulation distribution in tight spots.
It’s even working with a company that makes spy equipment to develop devices like solar-powered LED attractors that use wavelengths to attract pests like mosquitoes. Unlike plug-in units, this new technology could be used on every street corner, said Nolen, who has a background in research and development.
Not every company can support an R&D team, but to ensure a culture of innovation thrives, and the necessary skills and knowledge survive, Marshall suggests a portion of an organization be focused on innovation 100 percent of the time.
Accenture Study: Innovation Efforts Falling Short Despite Increased Investment
Despite increased business investment in innovation, only 18 percent of executives say they believe their company’s innovation efforts deliver a competitive advantage, according to an Accenture study. (The study also revealed a risk averse approach to product and service development.)
The survey of 519 companies across more than 12 industry sectors in France, the U.K. and the U.S. showed 51 percent of participating companies reported increased funding for innovation. Ninety-three percent of surveyed executives said the long-term success of their organization’s strategy depends on their ability to innovate and 70 percent place innovation among their company’s top five priorities. Despite this commitment, the study found a decline in the satisfaction with innovation performance compared to the results of a similar Accenture study conducted in 2009.
The Accenture study shows those companies that institutionalized formal innovation management systems, compared to those that have not, are almost twice as likely to say they were “very satisfied” with their initial idea generation abilities (43 percent vs. 24 percent). Thirty-eight percent vs. 22 percent are “very satisfied” with the return on their innovation investments.
Accenture also found companies with a formal system in place are 75 percent more likely to define their innovation strategy as delivering a competitive advantage (21 percent vs. 12 percent), twice as likely to introduce a new business process or model (32 percent vs. 16 percent), and 35 percent more likely to say they are typically first to market with new products or services (50 percent vs. 38 percent).
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with 261,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Accenture says it collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. Learn more at www.accenture.com.
The right culture makes all the difference, reports a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Company values, employee engagement and having the support to take risks set the tone for innovation. Creativity is another requirement, experts say. Leaders “have to recognize that failure is a part of the process,” said Marshall. He asks clients, “If you’re seeking breakthrough innovation, what are you prepared to break?”
Nolen laughingly admitted to being “really good at making mistakes,” but if there is one person who should take the gamble to innovate, “it’s me.”
Innovation can be disruptive and messy. But it’s also inspirational, said Nolen. “People like knowing that we’re cutting edge and it really helps motivate people,” he said. Though some employees resist change, being innovative is “more energizing than it is fatiguing,” Nolen explained.
Innovation is one of eight core values at Arrow Exterminators in Atlanta, said Chief Marketing Officer Cindy Mannes. Its Project Innovation encourages employees to share new ideas through the company intranet and suggestion-box-like “innovation stations” at every service center.
“We want everyone to feel empowered,” said Mannes. This is one of the ways “we can give a voice to every person in our company.” Front-line employees are the best source of ideas; innovation isn’t going to come from senior executives sitting in a strategic planning session, she said.
Ask Questions…and Listen.
Organizations most effective at innovation are the ones that “tie themselves most closely to the customer or user experience,” said Marshall. “The closer you can get to an empathetic understanding of why somebody would use your services or a competitor’s services and recognize the value of meeting their needs before they recognize they have needs, the better off you will be in the long term,” he said.
The larger a company gets, the “more you tend to generalize who your customers are,” Marshall said. “You start looking at markets and market segmentation, rather than customers and customer profiles.” For large companies swimming in big data, “the customer gets lost in the numbers,” he cautioned.
Marshall urged leaders to “flip the ride-along on its head.” Instead of managers evaluating how technicians perform service, explore the customer experience. What are the sticking points of doing business with the company? Where are we saying no to the customer where we might be saying yes? Where are we not providing a service that customers want because we’re not in a position to provide it? What challenges do customers face when your service may or may not provide a solution?
This type of thinking led Abell Pest Control in Etobicoke, Ontario, to develop a custom software platform, said Brett MacKillop, regional vice president. The constantly evolving software differentiates Abell from competitors and has improved close rates while addressing client needs, he explained. For example, sales representatives can view real-time routes to schedule and sell service calls while on the phone with clients. Having to call clients back “is not good enough for us,” he said.
Marshall suggested documenting the entire customer experience, from the moment customers realize they have a pest issue through billing and follow up. This framework will help you tackle sticking points, he said. “By making your thinking visible, you give your company the opportunity to explore a range of options and test your thinking in partnership with your customers at a low cost,” said Marshall.
He also recommended adopting a common language for innovation, such as customer-focused design thinking, which is based on customer observations and the insights that come from those observations. Design thinking, developed by the company IDEO, focuses on six key steps: define the challenge, observe people, form insights, frame opportunities, brainstorm ideas and try experiments, he said.
The service design tools at www.servicedesigntools.org can be immediately put to use, he said.
Prepare for Change.
Truly Nolen is one of the industry’s most inventive companies. Still, Nolen is not satisfied. “I think we need to quadruple the budget,” he said. Without innovating, “you can’t learn,” and that’s helped the company be successful in 57 countries, he said.
Nolen urged PMPs to “share their innovation.” Sure, some may steal your ideas, but you’ll gain new and better ideas to move ahead; the industry has much room for improvement, he said.
Customer needs are changing. So are pests: Bed bugs and tawny crazy ants have become major problems, Chagas disease-carrying kissing bugs are in southern Arizona, pack rats have been linked to hantavirus, new termites constantly enter Florida, he said. “You can’t serve the customer of the future doing what we did yesterday,” cautioned Nolen.
Email the author at email@example.com.
Enter to Win!
For a chance to win one of three copies of David Burkus’ book “The Myths of Creativity,” visit www.pctonline.com/mythbook.aspx. The book provides practical tips on how companies and individuals can innovate and generate great ideas.
On June 17-18, PCT hosted its third biennial Top 100 Awards Ceremony and Executive Summit, which was sponsored by Univar. The event, held in San Antonio, Texas, featured speakers from Top 100 companies from around the country, as well as two keynote speakers who provided unique insights to the Top 100 PMPs in attendance. Below is a slideshow from this event:
If you think the pollinator health issue is going away any time soon, think again. The latest chapter in this ongoing story, with significant potential implications for the pest management industry, was the recent announcement by the Obama Administration to expand federal efforts to reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels by establishing a Pollinator Health Task Force to be co-chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within 180 days, the Task Force will develop a National Pollinator Health Strategy, “which shall include explicit goals, milestones and metrics to measure progress,” according to a Presidential Memorandum distributed by the White House press office in June.
Industry trade groups and other interested parties applauded the Obama Administration’s measured approach to this complex issue. “The President’s memorandum presents a comprehensive strategy and calls for broad participation from a number of federal agencies,” observed Jay Vroom, president and CEO, CropLife America (CLA). “CLA is hopeful that this level of federal cooperation will help generate practical, science-based solutions for improving pollinator health.” The Entomological Society of America (ESA) also welcomed the announcement. “We applaud the President’s strategy to promote pollinator health through collaborative efforts of federal agencies,” said Dr. Frank Zalom, president, ESA. “Increased support for entomological research on a number of topics relevant to pollinator biology is crucial to developing solutions that will address the threats to pollinator health and prevent further decline of pollinator populations.”
The response, not surprisingly, was more muted from the environmental community, including the group Beyond Pesticides, which responded: “Federal agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and USDA have been slow to respond to pollinator losses and must take immediate action, especially on pesticides known to be toxic to bees and other pollinators ... With one in three bites of food reliant on pollinators, it is imperative that solutions be found quickly to protect bees and other pollinators.”
When it comes to protecting our nation’s food supply, however, Beyond Pesticides is preaching to the choir. Fact is, the scientists employed by global brands like Bayer, Syngenta, BASF and others spend a signifcant portion of their work life developing science-based solutions designed to increase crop yields, limit post-harvest losses, reduce water usage and ensure a sustainable food supply for a hungry world. And they’ve done a commendable job of doing just that over the years, although with the United Nations General Assembly reporting that “food production must double by 2050 to meet the demand of the world’s growing population,” they won’t be able to rest on their laurels any time soon.
Despite what the public may believe, scientists working diligently behind the scenes at these firms are as committed to protecting pollinator health as many of their most outspoken opponents. Joe Hope, senior principal scientist, Bayer CropScience, is typical. While attending the opening of Bayer’s new Bee Care Center earlier this year, I learned Hope had volunteered to serve as a tour guide during the event because he’s a beekeeper himself, housing several colonies on his family farm in Mebane, N.C. Hope is all for protecting pollinators, but he also understands that sound science takes time. While the media, public, environmental activists and political pundits may want immediate answers to these complex questions, scientists understand that it’s not quite so easy to determine the precise cause — or more likely causes — for the decline in pollinator populations.
That’s the bad news. The good news is I’m confident the scientific community eventually will come up with the answer(s). That’s why the Obama Administration’s balanced approach to this issue — along with industry’s ongoing investment in programs like the Bayer Bee Care Center — are steps in the right direction. The sooner we can secure the answers to these multi-faceted questions, the better equipped we’ll be to protect not only pollinators, but the pesticide tools PMPs and farmers use every day to safeguard the public’s health and property, while ensuring a sustainable food supply for a rapidly growing world.
The author is publisher of PCT magazine.
ServiceMaster Announces IPO of Common Stock
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — ServiceMaster Global Holdings, parent company of Terminix International, on July 1 announced the closing of its previously announced initial public offering of common stock at $17 a share. The shares began trading June 26 on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol SERV.
The underwriters for the initial public offering have exercised in full their option to purchase from the company an additional 5,385,000 shares of common stock. As a result, the company sold a total of 41,285,000 shares of common stock in the initial public offering.
The company will use the net proceeds of the offering (i) to redeem (a) $210 million of the outstanding principal of the 8 percent senior notes due 2020 issued by its subsidiary, The ServiceMaster Company (“SvM”), at a redemption price equal to 108 percent of the principal amount thereof, plus accrued interest and (b) $262.5 million of the outstanding principal of SvM’s 7 percent senior notes due 2020 at a redemption price equal to 107 percent of the principal amount thereof, plus accrued interest; (ii) to repay borrowings under SvM’s existing term loan facility; and (iii) to pay consulting agreement termination fees.
The offering was made through an underwriting group led by J.P. Morgan Securities, Credit Suisse Securities (USA), Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Morgan Stanley & Co., which acted as joint book-running managers and as representatives of the underwriters for the offering. Additional book-running managers are BofA Merrill Lynch, Jefferies, Natixis Securities Americas and RBC Capital Markets. Robert W. Baird & Co., Piper Jaffray & Co. and Samuel A. Ramirez & Company acted as co-managers for the offering.
Comment Opportunity Extended on EPA’s Complex Water Rule
Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency extended the 90-day public comment period for an additional 91 days, until Oct. 20, 2014, for the proposed rule expanding the definition of “waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
This rule would significantly impact how homeowners and professionals treat property near any water by subjecting man-made water bodies, rights-of-way, golf course ponds, ditches and flood plains to CWA regulation. The public comment period originally ended July 21.
RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) released a press release in support of the decision to extend the public comment period.
“The proposed rule is complex and includes many broad definitions of important terms defining what a ‘water of the U.S.’ would be under CWA jurisdiction. The extended comment period gives us the time to provide research and science to form meaningful and fully developed comments,” said Aaron Hobbs, RISE president. “The rule would cause many negative consequences for homeowners and professionals and we are making sure we account for all of these concerns.
“Pesticide and fertilizer applications provide many benefits, including protecting our communities from vector-borne diseases, controlling the growth of noxious weeds and invasive species, and controlling harmful pests on public and private property. Under the proposed rule, these important applications could be jeopardized by costly permits,” said Hobbs.
|Comings & Goings
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Jessica Spak has joined the J.T. Eaton Pest Control Division as the Southeastern regional manager for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi. Spak’s industry career has focused on both rodent control products and insecticides both global and domestic.
A.R.E., a truck cap and tonneau cover manufacturer, has realigned its fleet and commercial sales division. The team will now be led by Jose Reyna as national fleet and commercial sales manager; Norm Brown will serve as fleet and commercial sales representative; and Scott West as commercial fleet coordinator. Anna Maher continues as commercial fleet customer service representative.
Charlie Kane joined Pestguard Commercial Services as wood-destroying organisms (WDO) inspector. Kane has experience with termites and various wood-destroying organisms; he will assist in offering free WDO inspections to homeowners and real estate firms in Florida’s Sarasota and Manatee communities.
Shawn Cantor has joined Marathon Data Systems as chief revenue officer. As CRO, Cantor will lead all Marathon’s sales efforts, including ongoing new business sales, go to market planning and execution, as well as strategic initiatives.
Allgood Pest Solutions, Dublin, Ga., made a number of corporate promotions, including:
Phillip Carey, who has been with Shamrock Pest Control for five years, has been promoted to service manager of the Houston branch. Lewis Kohler has been promoted to service manager for Shamrock’s main branch in Dallas.
Truly Nolen announced James Hegler as the owner/operator of the company’s first independently owned and operated franchise in Tallahassee, Fla. Hegler brings a decade of experience in the local construction industry.
Central Life Sciences, of Schaumburg, Ill., hired Tony Schultz as brand manager, Farm and Ranch, and promoted Nancy Stratinsky to business manager, Specialty Agriculture.
In his new role, Schultz will manage all brand and new product development initiatives for the Starbar and Pre-Strike product lines across current channels.
Stratinsky will manage all brand and new product initiatives for the Diacon and Centynal product lines, while developing annual brand plans and ensuring successful implementation of tactics and strategies.
Yvan Hernandez joined Massey Communications as account services coordinator, responsible for strategizing and implementing digital communications services for the agency and its clients.
Wegner Receives Tom Evans Award at GCPCA Banquet
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Dr. Gerry Wegner, technical director, Varment Guard Environmental Services, thought he was the featured speaker at the Greater Cleveland Pest Control Association (GCPCA) Annual Awards Banquet and little more. But when his wife, Debbie, walked through the door and sat down to have dinner with his Varment Guard colleagues he thought: “What is she doing here?”
An hour later he got his answer. Wegner, a 30+ year veteran of the pest management industry, was presented the Tom Evans Award, the GCPCA’s highest honor, by Rich Kozlovich, who was sitting in as master of ceremonies for the event since GCPCA President Molly Patton was ill.
In presenting the award to one of the most humble and hard-working men in the pest management industry, Kozlovich said, “Some people have done things year after year after year and we have failed to appreciate it. This year’s recipient, Dr. Gerry Wegner, is that kind of person.”
Not only has the Ohio State University graduate and Copesan Technical Committee member generously shared his expertise with the industry whenever asked, but in his spare time he has created dozens of “bug clocks” featuring mounted insect specimens that he has donated for various fund-raising purposes to Purdue University, Pi Chi Omega, the Ohio Pest Management Association Scholarship Fund, and other worthy organizations.
Not surprisingly, in accepting the award, Wegner deflected the credit for his personal and financial contributions to others, stating “it is your generosity as an industry that has made all of this possible.”
In all, 30 individuals have been recognized with the Tom Evans Award, named after the longtime president of Southern Mill Creek Products, which was acquired by Univar in 2010.
Kozlovich said the annual banquet “truly celebrates the industry” and the Tom Evans Award ceremony recognizes “individuals or groups who have made sacrifices of their time and energy and talent for the good of the pest control industry.”
Scott Steckel, a member of the NPMA Board of Directors, updated attendees on the latest developments at the Washington, D.C.-based association, pointing out that Executive Vice President Bob Rosenberg “has done a great job uniting the association membership” and leading the organization. “If you’ve been disenfranchised (from the association in the past) this is the time to get back in the game,” he urged. “Your vote counts; your input matters. It’s a new day and it’s a bright day.”
Kozlovich agreed: “I’ve beaten on NPMA over the years, but I have been really impressed by the direction they’re going.”
Lonnie Alonso, president, Columbus Pest Control, added it is critical PMPs stay involved in their state and national associations, particularly when it comes to regulatory matters. “Every day we don’t represent ourselves,” he warned, “someone else is going to represent the opposition.”
Alonso also pointed out that working on regulatory issues isn’t for the faint-hearted, requiring tenacity and perseverance. “Nothing is quick and nothing is simple,” he said, pointing to the Ohio Pest Management Association’s (OPMA) longtime effort to secure an emergency exemption from EPA for the use of propoxur to control beg bugs. The OPMA’s most recent request was recently denied in a March 14 letter from James Jones, assistant administrator, U.S. EPA.
“The EPA continues to expedite new pesticide product applications for bed bug control and to support pest management professionals and other members of the public who fight bed bugs on a daily basis,” Jones wrote. “Since initiating this expedited process, the EPA has registered numerous new products for bed bug control that reportedly have very good control in the field. Some of these are combination products … and others have new modes of action. The EPA has made safety findings for all of these newly registered products so that they can be used without posing unreasonable adverse effects to the residents. If the State of Ohio still wishes to pursue a request for an emergency exemption to use propoxur, please submit updated information to address the identified risks of propoxur and the availability and adequacy of alternative methods of controlling bed bugs.”
Alonso said the OPMA has been pursuing this issue, working with OPARR, for more than four years and has no plans to jettison the effort now, saying the association will “continue to take the next steps” with EPA.
One of the most moving moments of the evening occurred when William L. “Bill” Kirchner, whose wife of 58 years recently passed away, spoke to attendees about what the GCPCA has meant to him and his family.
“This is really a tough time for me,” he said, “but when I look out at your faces I see people I love. Pest control is a great industry,” a sentiment echoed by Lonnie Alonso, who reinforced the priceless nature of personal relationships.
When faced with a challenging regulatory or business decision, Alonso said Kirchner was one of the first people he always confided in. “I really learned a lot from Bill and I always valued his friendship and counsel. Over the years, we’ve accomplished a whole lot together (as an association).”
Added Kirchner’s daughter, Barbara, who grew up attending pest control meetings and social events with her parents, “We wanted to thank you for all of your love and support. This organization was a great love of hers.” — Dan Moreland
Nov. 4-6: University of Kentucky’s Pest Control Short Course (44th annual), Lexington, Ky. Contact: Darlene Thorpe, 859/257-5955 or email@example.com.
New Termiticide Launched in Canada
GUELPH, Ontario — Syngenta Canada announced the registration of Altriset Termiticide for the Canadian PMP market; sales began in April. Although they exist in limited numbers, areas of southern Ontario, greater Toronto and pockets on the west coast do have termites. Toronto’s milder climate, Lake Ontario border and underground infrastructure that remains frost free, produces an ideal habitat for termites.
“Although the market is small, there is a huge need for new chemistry here,” said Robert Percy, director of operations for Gardex Chemicals, Syngenta’s Canadian distribution partner. “We can’t keep using the same active ingredients for 20 years, especially when there are great alternatives being used elsewhere.” Prior to the availability of Altriset, PMPs were limited to permethrin-based products; some commonly used termiticides in the U.S., based on fipronil or imidacloprid, have not been registered.
“Having a non-repellent termiticide that provides superior control, will finally help in colony elimination,” said Richard Murphy, owner of Aetna Pest Control in Toronto. Murphy was a key member of the Termiticide Support Group working toward new active ingredients being registered in Canada. The group was started by the Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency in 2007, with members from the Canadian Pest Management Association, the National Pest Management Association support staff and interested PMPs.
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Legion Pest Management, Murrieta, Calif., owned and operated by U.S. Marine Veteran David Poplin (right) was certified by the Department of Veterans Affairs in January as a veteran-owned business. Poplin has been in the pest industry for more than 20 years and founded Legion Pest Management in June 2013. Legion hired a disabled veteran as its operations manager in August 2013, and has a mission to create opportunities for other veterans as well.
Pestmaster, Reno, Nev., announced its newest franchise owners, Jay and Laura Rodriguez of Miami. This is the fourth franchise in Florida and the first in south Florida. Pestmaster Miami-Dade held its grand opening in April. Pestmaster Franchise Network focuses on pest management with “Environ-Mentality.” That is, the greenest pest management possible, for clients and the environment, the firm says.
For the third year in a row, A-Active Termite and Pest Control (above), servicing Hampton Roads Va., and Northeastern North Carolina, was named to Virginia Business Magazine’s Best Places to Work list. The company ranked #22 in the Small Employer category and was honored in February. The award recognizes businesses in Virginia whose leadership and employees have reported on superior competency in core areas such as leadership, training, pay and benefits, and overall engagement.
McGrath Pest Control, Houston, Texas, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Doug McGrath was a high school teacher who decided he wanted to change careers and start a business through which he could help people in Houston. He bought a 1-gallon hand tank, put it in the back of his Oldsmobile, and started McGrath Pest Control. In 2010, he retired and his son, Scott McGrath, took over as owner. He has added some new ideas and grown the business by about 40 percent in sales each year since. In 2015, Scott said he expects sales to exceed $1 million. The company also has been an Angie’s List super service award winner for seven straight years.
Bug Doctor Termite and Pest Control/Bird Doctor Nationwide was featured as the cover story in the January/February 2014 issue of Business Fleet Magazine. The article, “N.Y. to Nationwide – How to Manage a Growing Fleet,” focuses on how the firm oversees its expanding number of vehicles for its divisions. Bug Doctor is a New Jersey-based $5.3 million company.