SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — More than 80 representatives of the manufacturing and distribution community headed west to the Marriott at McDowell Mountains Resort earlier this year to attend the UPFDA Spring Conference and celebrate a number of industry milestones, illustrating the growing influence of the 48-year-old organization.
Of particular significance was the multi-year effort by UPFDA leadership to gain greater supplier representation on the NPMA Board of Directors, which became a reality this year when the NPMA approved a bylaws change that resulted in an UPFDA representative and two allied directors being named to the board, giving industry suppliers three voting members. “This was a long, often arduous, process but the final piece of the puzzle has been accomplished,” said UPFDA Executive Director Valera Jessee. “We are deeply appreciative of the efforts of our leadership including, but not limited to, Tommy Reeves, Steve Levy, and Tom Eichler for the many years of effort this accomplishment required. And without the open-mindedness of NPMA CEO Bob Rosenberg and the NPMA Board of Directors, we would likely still be waiting.”
Rosenberg said he and the board are pleased with the enhanced relationship between the two groups. “We’re a better industry and a stronger industry working together as a community,” he said. The UPFDA representative named to the board is Karen Furgiuele-Percy, Gardex Chemicals, Etobicoke, Ontario. She joins allied representatives Gary Shapiro, Weisburger Insurance Brokerage, Harrison, N.Y., and Steve Levy, Bell Laboratories, Madison, Wis.
In announcing the new NPMA representatives, Tommy Reeves, immediate past president of UPFDA, said Rosenberg has “done a great job for all of our individual businesses” and NPMA Director of Meetings & Exhibits Alexis Wirtz, who also was in attendance at the conference, have played important roles in enhancing the relationship between NPMA and UPFDA.
In other UPFDA news, the organization’s board of directors voted to adopt an updated logo designed to create a consistent brand identity for the organization. The new logo will appear on the UPFDA website, as well as on all sales and marketing materials generated by the association moving forward. “We urge all members to incorporate the new logo into any digital or printed materials highlighting the various industry organizations they support as we strive to create a more consistent brand identity for UPFDA,” Jessee said.
In addition, UPFDA Treasurer Dr. Cisse Spragins reported that the association is in a stronger financial position this year than previous years thanks to a modest dues increase, strong spring conference attendance, and cost-cutting measures designed to make the organization more financially stable.
On the regulatory front, UPFDA board member Steve Levy said the past year has “provided several opportunities for our industry to work together to thwart unnecessary regulatory initiatives as well as responsibly expand product labeling/usage for the benefit of all.”
For instance, in the fall of 2014 the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) was petitioned on behalf of a coalition of wildlife and conservation groups to make second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides restricted use products, raising concerns in the professional pest management industry.
“Once aware of the petition, an industry group made up of members of the National Pest Management Association, New York Pest Management Association, manufacturers and pest control operators quickly rallied together to address the unintended consequences of NYDEC taking such action,” Levy said. Members of the group presented a unified front and met directly with NYDEC in Albany, N.Y., sharing the industry’s concerns.
In addition to reaffirming the importance of the use of SGARs by PMPs, the group reminded NYDEC that EPA’s Risk Mitigation Decision, which is now in the final stages of implementation, was already designed to get SGARs out of the hands of non-professionals. “The industry further explained that the positive benefits of this action are yet to be realized and taking further action to limit SGARs until such time that the positive benefits can be demonstrated is unwarranted,” Levy said.
The industry’s aggressive lobbying effort, including the involvement of UPFDA members, paid off when the NYDEC denied the petition.
In a well-attended educational session devoted to the manufacturers’ perspective, MGK President Steve Gullickson said he was optimistic about the future of the structural pest control industry globally, pointing out that by 2030 there will be 41 cities worldwide with a population of more than 10 million, and an additional 63 cities with 5 to 10 million residents. As a burgeoning middle class develops in these urban centers there will be a growing need for professional pest management services.
In addition, a new generation of customers has grown up with professional pest management services, with many exhibiting a desire to purchase these services in growing numbers rather than treat the problem themselves. “There’s been a pretty dramatic increase in terms of the number of people comfortable using pest control services,” Gullickson said. As a result, “this younger generation is going to embrace professional pest control more and more. Will our industry prosper in the future?” Gullickson asked. “I think the answer is ‘absolutely yes.’”
Nonetheless, in order to sustain the industry’s positive momentum, PMPs will need to gain a better understanding of the purchasing patterns, psychographics and treatment preferences of Millennials, who will be their primary customers by 2030. “Gen-Xers and Boomers are our current customers, but Millennials are our future customers,” he said, so “everyone in this room needs to be thinking about 2028” when Millennials will become the primary demographic group in the United States, citing data from the Pew Research Center.
Gullickson also noted that the regulatory and product registration process is becoming increasingly difficult for pesticide manufacturers. “The risk assessment models are being enhanced,” he said, and technology advancements are allowing scientists to detect pesticide residues at very low levels. “It creates an environment where keeping products registered will be more challenging over time,” he said.
In addition, a new generation of regulators are entering the EPA as more senior members of the agency retire. As a result, “new reviewers are using new approaches at EPA,” he said. “The continuity and consistency of reviews has dramatically changed. It’s really a dynamic environment,” which has significant long-term implications for pesticide manufacturers.
The pollinator issue also is having a detrimental impact on the structural pest control industry, with speculation that the Obama Administration may not register any more neonicotinoid products in the next five years until additional research is completed on this class of insecticides’ impact on pollinators.
In terms of future product development, Gullickson said PMPs can anticipate “an escalation of new modes of action coming to the marketplace,” eventually replacing some of the older technologies industry professionals have come to rely on over the years, as well as growth of the “green” or “natural” product category. “My perspective is they’ll be efficacious, they’ll need to be combined (with other active ingredients) and they’ll grow over time,” he said.
Gullickson also anticipates public health concerns around mosquitoes, particularly as it relates to West Nile virus and chikungunya, to grow in coming years. Based on Google Trends data, chikungunya is becoming part of the “national conversation,” he said, representing an opportunity for PMPs to educate the marketplace about this vector-borne disease. — Dan Moreland