As part of his presentation during December’s Global Bed Bug Summit in Denver, Colo., presented by NPMA and BedBug Central, University of Kentucky researcher Dr. Michael Potter framed the next two day’s worth of discussions by asking this question: “Are we making progress?”
Perhaps the most accurate answer is “yes and no.” From the time these pests re-emerged in large numbers in the mid-2000s until today, the pest control community — including university researchers, pest management professionals and manufacturers — has made great strides in better understanding bed bug biology and behavior; refining training, policies and procedures (as well as business models); and introducing new and innovative products.
Despite these strides, bed bugs remain problem pest No. 1 for many pest management professionals. Potter cited a 2010 NPMA and University of Kentucky bed bug survey in which 76 percent of PMPs surveyed responded that bed bugs were THE most difficult pest to control; that same survey was repeated in 2013 and, again, 76 percent responded that bed bugs were THE most difficult pest to control. And bed bugs are being found in more non-residential areas. Again, Potter cited the NPMA/University of Kentucky bed bug surveys from 2010 and 2013 to illustrate this point (see graph on the right).
It’s for this reason that industry events like the previous Bed Bug Summits have served as great forums for opening dialogue and BedBug Central President Phil Cooper noted that partnering with NPMA for this year’s Summit has brought new participants and perspectives. During this year’s Global Bed Bug Summit, industry experts addressed the global bed bug challenge from a research, field and business perspective. Highlights included:
In addition to the many sessions, attendees had numerous networking opportunities and got a first-hand look at the latest bed bug products from leading manufacturers at the exhibit hall.
The author is managing editor PCT magazine and Internet editor of www.pctonline.com.
For additional coverage of this event, including a photo slideshow, visit online extras on the PCT Online homepage.
New ideas can be born from necessity. They also can be born out of sheer luck but many times they come about because an individual displays the entrepreneurial spirit and acts on an opportunity.
Veteran Oldham Chemicals Equipment Manager Ellis Jones saw an opportunity while he was working with SnugTop, a leading manufacturer of commercial and recreational truck toppers, on a fleet equipment retrofit project with a large pest control customer involving more than 500 vehicles.
“We worked as a team on the project and the client was very satisfied with the results so after completion SnugTop called and suggested we put together a program for the entire industry,” says Jones.
To complement the partnership Jones reached out to Toyota, whose Tacoma pickup is a popular choice for pest and lawn care professionals, and custom truck “upfitter” Knapheide. The foursome agreed there was an opportunity to develop a program that would allow industry professionals to buy or lease a fully-equipped truck with fewer hassles and greater financial efficiency.
“The goal was to work out a plan that would work for the guy with three trucks or 5,000 trucks,” says Jones. “They can order anywhere, pick up locally and enjoy the benefits of volume pricing.”
Jones says owners or fleet managers in the pest management and lawn care industries are asked to wear many hats and that the program’s objective is to help remove the barriers between the various vendors — whether financial or logistical.
“By working together we take advantage of the synergies each organization offers and are able answer buyers’ questions faster, resolve issues quicker and present them with options they did not know were available,” says Jones.
The normal process of buying or leasing trucks and outfitting them with spray rigs and caps, starts with a visit to the local truck dealer to select the vehicle. From there the truck cap and spray rig is ordered and shipped from separate suppliers — at a substantial cost — to the truck dealer or a local installer who will finish the job.
Under the Oldham plan, pest and lawn care professionals can order their truck as well as the cap and spray rig, have it professionally installed and delivered to their local Toyota dealer without incurring additional shipping charges.
“We set out to streamline the process and make it easier for everyone involved and by using Toyota’s dealer ship-through program we can greatly reduce costly shipping charges for the buyer,” says Jones.
Another important benefit is that buyers can lease or finance their purchase as a complete package — Toyota truck, spray rig, truck topper and installation.
The flexible financing elements of the program are especially valuable for small companies that can avoid having to make a large capital outlay and in the process free up valuable cash flow that can be used in other areas of the business.
For larger companies staying on top of fleet and equipment maintenance issues and improving operational efficiencies are important benchmarks.
Jones says the program was rolled out at NPMA’s recent PestWorld tradeshow and eliminates confusion over what type of sprayer to purchase by offering three versatile units. By identifying the most commonly used units, pest management and lawn care professionals can keep maintenance costs in check.
“We spend a lot of time at Oldham handling equipment maintenance issues and see companies using a variety of equipment brands,” says Jones. “By streamlining the process companies do not have to buy and stock as many replacement parts and repairs are easier.”
The program is also designed to remove some of the barriers start-up companies face when looking to break into the pest management or lawn care field. By guiding industry newcomers through the equipment selection process and offering attractive financing options, start-up operations can hit the ground running faster and with less debt.
Customer reaction to the program has been positive and after hearing the details, owners and fleet managers who had previously been buying and installing trucks and rigs piecemeal are “getting” the advantages of the new offering.
Another noteworthy benefit of the program is the positive impact it has on a company’s branding initiatives. And with service vehicles serving as mobile advertising platforms for companies, this aspect can’t be overlooked.
Having the installation done by one outfit provides consistency and uniformity in the look and functionality of each service vehicle,” says Jones. “This not only is a benefit to the technician but projects a positive image to consumers who sees the truck driving in their neighborhood.”
The author is a partner of B Communications, www.b-communications.com, an integrated communications/marketing firm. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For packages offered by Oldham Chemicals and its partners, see below.
For More Information
If you are interested in learning more about Oldham’s truck program, contact Ellis Jones at 800/888-5502 or email@example.com.
The packages Oldham Chemicals and its partners Toyota, SnugTop and Knapheide, have developed to assist pest management professionals expand, upgrade or better manage their truck fleets and spray rigs, are designed with simplicity and efficiency in mind.
The packages offer pest management and lawn care fleet managers three versatile spray rig options to match a variety of application requirements and all include a professionally installed SnugPro CHU Topper.
“The three packages that are offered are universal and match the needs of 85 percent of our customers and provide them with maximum flexibility for a variety of applications,” says Oldham Chemicals’ Ellis Jones.
Designed for perimeter pest control.
Designed for perimeter pest control and light-duty termite work.
Designed for perimeter pest, termite and mosquito control work.
It is ironic that a project filled with activity and energy was inspired by a visit to a museum full of truly inanimate objects — stones. This is how Chris Koerner described the inspiration for starting Ozane Termite & Pest Control’s Insectropolis, a 7,000-square-foot living, crawling and flying museum dedicated solely to insects.
“My wife and I were visiting various children’s museums with our daughter and we came across the Stone Museum that had displays on minerals and precious stones,” says Koerner. “I was impressed at how they took what was interesting about a general topic and made it appealing to visitors.”
Koerner says following that visit he began thinking that a museum dedicated to insects would be a good way to promote Ozane’s services and to educate and inform the public.
Koerner’s father, Tom, and brothers agreed the museum project was a worthwhile venture and would offer benefits to both the community and Ozane, and thus the Insectropolis was born.
But how does a pest management professional learn to be a museum curator? Koerner says a lot of trial and error took place during the planning phase and he conducted extensive online research and visited other museums for ideas on setting up displays and how to create interactive experiences for visitors.
Koerner says he spent time with Steve Kanya, owner of Steve’s Bug Off Exterminating, in Philadelphia, one of a handful of PMPs who pioneered the concept of pest professional-owned museums with the opening of the Insectarium in 1992. He says his visits with Kanya helped shed light on what Koerner needed to do to attract visitors and maintain the energy and creative levels beyond the first year. “We spent a lot of time researching how to set up the displays, and how to mount and present the insects,” says Koerner, a graduate of Rider College with a degree in organizational management who had thoughts about a career in education prior to joining the family business. “It was very time-intensive and we hired a professional to help us set the foundation.”
Following four years of intensive planning, gathering specimens and designing exhibits, the Insectropolis opened in late summer 2005 on property shared with Ozane‘s corporate office in Toms River, N.J., 70 miles south of New York City along the New Jersey shore.
Now in its ninth year, the Insectropolis has developed an impressive array of interactive displays for visitors of all ages. The exhibits, which are designed in-house by Chris Koerner’s sisters-in-law, Diane and Valerie Redzinak, are intended to both educate and entertain the more than 30,000 annual visitors.
Like many who chose to make a career in pest management, Koerner feels that education is a significant part and responsibility of the job.
From helping homeowners identify the critter they caught inside their basement and brought in a plastic bag to the Insectropolis to the busses full of schoolchildren and teachers that take tours, there are opportunities to educate at every turn.
“People in this industry are educators and help customers better understand what type of pest problem they have and how to correct it,” adds Koerner. “A better informed customer is a customer that sees the benefits of pest management services.”
Koerner admits there is irony in owning a museum dedicated to insects right across from the parking lot at Ozane, whose mission it is to eliminate insects from homes and businesses.
“Each insect has its own place in nature and one of our objectives with the Insectropolis is to separate what is a harmful insect from what is a beneficial insect,” says Koerner. “What visitors discover sometimes surprises them.”
One example of a pest that is not fully appreciated for its positive role in the environment, Koerner points out, is the spider. Spiders give a large portion of the population the chills if they see one crawl across the floor but spiders are actually one of the more beneficial insects because they eat other harmful pests. In addition to hosting groups at the Insectropolis, Koerner and his staff, led by outreach bug keeper, Jesse Herdman, have developed a growing outreach program that takes insects on the road into classrooms and other groups who can’t make the trip to the Insectropolis.
And what are the most popular insects at Insectropolis? Koerner says the rose-haired tarantula, which visitors can actually touch, Giant African millipede, emperor scorpion and Madagascar hissing cockroach top the list of most popular insects for wide-eyed visitors.
Koerner says Insectropolis and Ozane share cross promotion synergies. There is an information stand inside the museum promoting Ozane’s services and Insectropolis visitors receive a Bug Club discount card with museum information on one side and a discount coupon for pest or termite services on the other. “One of the most satisfying aspects is seeing those busses of school children pull up and realize that we transformed an idea into reality and are giving back to the community in a positive way,” says Koerner.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never trusted colleagues in the office with meticulous workspaces. I can accept orderly. I can even put up with neat. But meticulous — not a single paper out of place; freshly sharpened pencils strategically positioned in a readily accessible desk “cozy”; the smell of lemon-scented Lysol Disinfectant Wipes wafting through the air — makes me question not only their competence, but their sanity! Who has the time, or energy for that matter, to live out the Gospel according to Martha Stewart: “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
My desk, on the other hand, looks like something out of one of those Hollywood thrillers about the CIA, where a hostile power is about to overrun our embassy (think Ben Affleck in “Argo”) and everyone is frantically rifling through their files to destroy our country’s most sensitive documents, dozens of folders lying on the floor, papers strewn about throughout the office in a sea of white; in short, controlled chaos! It makes for a great movie, but it’s not nearly as compelling in real life, just ask my co-workers. And it’s not because I don’t look anything like Ben Affleck or, despite dedicating my career to the written word, failed to win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Damn that Ben Affleck!
That’s why my heart skipped a beat recently when I came across a story in the Sept. 22nd edition of The Sunday New York Times Magazine that highlighted groundbreaking research out of the University of Minnesota trumpeting the benefits of a messy desk. (I found the article, not surprisingly, under a pile of file folders and a half-eaten bag of Fritos in the corner of my workspace. Ironic huh?!?)
Titled “Clean Up Your Desk!” by Gretchen Reynolds, the article chronicles three different experiments that shed light on the pros and cons of orderly environments vs. disorderly ones. In the first experiment, a research team led by Kathleen Vohs, Land O’Lakes professor of excellence in marketing at the University of Minnesota, randomly selected college-age students who spent time in adjacent offices, “one of which was exquisitely neat, the other wildly cluttered with papers and other work-related detritus,” according to Reynolds. “The students spent their time filling out questionnaires unrelated to the study. After 10 minutes, they were told they could leave and were offered an apple or a chocolate bar as they exited. Those students who sat in the orderly office were twice as likely to chooose the apple than those who sat amid the mess.” Hence, an orderly office promotes healthy eating apparently. Who knew?
In a second experiment, however, 48 students were asked to come up with creative new uses for ping-pong balls, with participants completing this rather daunting task in either an orderly or disorderly room. “Those in messy spaces generated ideas that were signficantly more creative, according to two independent judges, than those plugging away in offices where stacks of papers and other objects were neatly aligned,” Reynolds reported.
“Being in a messy room led to something that firms, industries and societies want more of: creativity,” Vohls said in a press release from the Association for Psychological Science, which published her findings in its journal Psychological Science. “The researchers also found that when participants were given a choice between a new product and an established one, those in the messy room were more likely to prefer the novel one — a signal that being in a disorderly environment stimulates a release from conventionality. Whereas participants in a tidy room preferred the established product over the new one.”
“Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights,” according to Vohs and her fellow researchers. “Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe.”
It’s nice to know there are at least some benefits to a messy desk. It makes all those years of searching for that article I misplaced or that note that went missing somehow worthwhile, validating my workplace habits, while nurturing my creativity and “out-of-the-box” thinking skills. And no less an authority than Albert Einstein agrees. He once famously said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
I rest my case!
The author is publisher of PCT magazine.