The October issue of PCT magazine was about to go to the printer when we received word that NPMA Executive Vice President Rob Lederer had resigned. After 17 years at the helm of the industry’s national trade association, years characterized by a number of significant accomplishments that enhanced the industry’s image both nationally and internationally, there’s clearly more to the story than initially meets the eye, nor was reported in NPMA’s press release, which — as you would expect — featured a number of laudatory quotes from Lederer and NPMA President Laura Simpson.
“Rob leaves behind an incredibly solid association — made up of individual building blocks he stacked with precision and intent,” Simpson noted. “The great work of the NPMA staff, our board and the existing programs established during Rob’s tenure as our leader will continue unvarnished while we undergo a comprehensive, national search for the right candidate.”
In that same press release Lederer stated, “I treasure my NPMA experiences, particularly the many people I’ve had the opportunity to meet and what I’ve learned over the years. But, many of us who travel intense career paths reach a point where it is time to pursue new challenges, and, now, that time has come.”
Unfortunately, Lederer wasn’t on the conference call with the NPMA Board of Directors in the event they wanted to ask him what those “new challenges” might be, or why he resigned three weeks out from NPMA PestWorld, the single most important economic contributor to the National Pest Management Association.
In short, the press release provided more questions than answers, prompting all kinds of speculation in the industry, speculation fueled by the strong opinions Lederer engendered in others as a result of his sometimes aloof, often irascible, personal style, particularly early in his career at NPMA.
The news of Lederer’s sudden departure prompted PCT Editor Jodi Dorsch to yell, “Stop the presses!” Well, not literally but figuratively, reworking the layouts for the October issue so we could report this late-breaking story in a timely fashion, as well as adding a cover “blurb” directing readers to the coverage inside (pg. 16).
We lost a day of production but we were confident we could make up the time the next week by coming in early or staying late to complete all of our work in time for NPMA PestWorld. It’s all good. No worries, right? That is, until we received word a few days later that Rentokil, which had gobbled up J.C. Ehrlich in 2006 with aspirations of developing a national footprint, had purchased Western Exterminator Co., one of the industry’s iconic brands and a company ranked #11 on PCT’s Top 100 List.
What happened next? You guessed it. Shortly after receiving the news, PCT Editor Jodi Dorsch yelled, “Stop the presses!” Well, not literally but figuratively, reworking our layouts once more to accommodate news of the sale and adding a cover headline directing readers inside, much to the consternation of PCT Graphic Designer Sean Burris, who thought he had put the cover to bed once and for all two days earlier.
In the meantime, like a well-oiled machine, PCT Managing Editor Brad Harbison jumped on the phone and began conducting interviews with key executives at the two companies so he could provide additional online coverage of the purchase. Truth be told, Harbison had a good deal of background information about both companies already on file since rumors had been floating throughout the industry for several months about an impending sale. Harbison’s coverage of this important story — one of several high-profile acquisitions to occur in the pest management industry in recent months as expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts loom — begins on page 16.
Needless to say, there’s never a dull moment in the pest management industry. If you don’t believe it, give it a day. In the meantime, we’ll be standing by to cover whatever the next 24 hours may bring. After all, that’s what makes this job so fascinating!
The author is publisher of PCT magazine.