Located in the heart of the country’s bleakest real estate economies, Tim Hulett says he can’t remember seeing so many for-sale and for-lease signs in his home county of Palm Beach, Fla. Never in his 40-year career has the president of Hulett Environmental Services watched such a housing bubble — dozens of cranes building luxury high-rise condos along the beach — or experienced such a dramatic burst. And things still aren’t pretty.
“Florida was one of the most blighted areas, one of the top states with the most foreclosures,” reports Hulett, relating how inflated prices in Palm Beach County took a real blow when the economy tanked in December 2007. In 2006 and before that, people were migrating to Florida with money to invest in real estate. “They were also looking for pest control services,” Hulett adds.
That business stopped abruptly. And over a period of time in 2009 and 2010, Hulett phased out the company’s pretreat department.
“We put more resources and effort into growing the (general) pest control department, which in turn you get spin-off business, like lawn care,” he says. It also has helped that the unfortunate Asian white fly moved in as the termite market faltered. That replaced some business. “The termite market has not returned substantially, but it has increased,” Hulett says. “It’s not flat anymore, at least not the last two years.”
Despite the housing crisis, Hulett has continued to grow by zooming in on other markets, such as the Broward/Dade area.
As for termite pre-treats, those are as good as gone for Hulett. “The only homes that are selling here are the very expensive ones for those who can afford them, and the steals,” Hulett reports. Forget residential new construction, and the sale of “average Joe” homes. “The middle market is basically not moving, and it’s probably about one-tenth of what it was in its prime.
“We are just kind of standing by to see what happens,” he says.
What’s happening in housing matters very much for pest control businesses. New home construction halts snuffed out pre-treat business. Stagnant home sales stifled wood-destroying insect report business and subsequent termite treatment services. Operators that relied primarily on these markets as revenue-generators have suffered greatly. “When you combine a specialization in services with a real softness in new building, which stopped completely in some places, that puts a tremendous amount of pressure on those highly niched aspects of the pest control industry,” says Jeff Liebel, founding partner, CounterPoint Consulting.
Meanwhile, the glut of distressed housing on the market awaiting bank foreclosure only closed out more potential customers.
But there’s good news — or at least bright spots reported by numbers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). “Home sales have daintily picked up,” says Walter Molony, NAR spokesperson. NAR expects 4.62 million existing home sales this year, up from 4.26 million in 2011. That’s an 8.6 percent gain.
And an endangered species, the construction crane, is back again in Florida and other hard-hit states like Arizona. (See the Top 10 Turnaround Markets below, on the right.) “There are now cranes returning to Miami,” says Bert Putterman, president, Oliver Exterminating Corp., with offices in Florida, Arizona and Puerto Rico. He remembers counting 60 of them when he first moved to South Florida. And in 2010, there was just one, at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Hotel. “That’s it.”
Tides are turning, ever so slightly, and enough so that pest management professionals who adopt creative market strategies will continue to thrive.
A Market to Service. When people buy homes, they purchase a lot of other things, too. “There are related industries, goods and services, that benefit,” Molony says. In pest control, there are home inspections initiated by buyers who want to be sure their potential investments are safe. There are inspections requested by sellers who want to mitigate any buyer hesitation — take care of any problems before they become red flags on a home inspection report. And there’s all the treatment business that results from these inspections. Smart players like Oliver Exterminating are focused on building relationships with those buyers during inspections so their company becomes the service provider of choice after the “sold” sign is removed from the yard.
Realtor.com compiled a top 10 turnaround town report by using a formula based on price appreciation, changes in inventory, median age of inventory, searches by Realtor.com visitors and unemployment data. This report is based off of third quarter 2011 data. Six of the top 10 are Florida markets. Realtor.com says that Florida’s success is tied to foreign buyers, whose investments in homes there have increased from 10 percent in 2007 to 31 percent in 2011. Realtor.com’s top 10 turnaround towns are:
“We deal with wood-destroying insect reports as personal relationships, and when we do those we demand that the buyer be present,” Putterman says. “What we are doing is selling them our service and offering them more opportunities than the standard company that only does the report and hopes to get a little termite work out of it.”
Five years ago, most of these reports were conducted for sellers, Putterman says. “We are doing them for buyers to give them information about the property they can work with,” he explains. “And, at that time, we give them other information they can work with so they can make a qualified decision or negotiate the sale of the property.”
The more buyers, the more WDI reports. So housing plays a vital role in the service calls a pest management business may or may not get, at least for inspection services. And the same story is true with pre-treat services for new home construction.
So what’s going on with the housing market these days? Stepping back to take in a national economic view, Molony shares that housing historically leads the nation out of recession because of those ancillary purchases, including buying pest control services. “When you have an increase in housing activity, there is a rational, reasonable expected increase in all of the related services,” he says.
But this recession is a different animal because of the number of distressed homes that proliferated on the market and the scores of bad loans that were extended to unqualified buyers. Also, the current sort-of rebound is unusual because usually, housing and rentals don’t share the same ups and downs. Today, both markets are up, which is good for service companies.
“Young people are going out and renting their first apartment or buying a first home, and so the rental demand increases, causing vacancy rates to decline and rent prices to rise,” Molony says. “That encourages some renters who were on the lines to get into home ownership.”
Molony says pent-up demand for housing and rentals is resulting in a “big buildup.” So we’re seeing an increase in home sales activity, a rise in rental demand and higher turnover in rental. “So you have the same kind of expected increase for the need for pest control services there,” Molony says.
Are PCOs seeing this increase impact their bottom lines? Sort of. Stacy O’Reilly, president, Plunkett’s Pest Control, Minneapolis, Minn., says the housing market in the upper Midwest never bottomed out like other regions. Still, for O’Reilly, not growing in the real estate inspection segment the past few years was unusual.
“We noticed a drop-off in home service work,” O’Reilly says. “I’d say in the past 18 months it has picked up and become more healthy again.”
Overall, this has not affected the growth of Plunkett’s. Two years ago, O’Reilly says the company grew a couple of percentage points less than expected. “This year, we are growing a couple more percentage points than we had probably hoped, but nothing dramatic in either direction,” she says.
Russ Ives, president, Rose Pest Solutions, says his Detroit, Mich., real estate market is challenged and the region has faced a population exodus with the shuttering of manufacturing plants.
“We have a lot of houses that aren’t inhabited right now,” he says, adding that he sees some stability in the distressed home market. But that’s really affecting companies that service this portion of the residential market.
Molony says out of the 75 million owner-occupied homes in the United States, a projected 11 million are upside-down in their mortgages, meaning they owe more to the bank than the property is worth. “We are projecting that within two years, that will be down to 7 million,” he says. “That will be a gradual healing for people who have been in an under-water situation, and this is good for the broader economy, barring any unforeseen economic shock.”
Molony adds, “We can only talk about what we know.”
The commercial side of pest control is less impacted by these conditions, Ives points out. Three-quarters of his business is commercial. Ives has never been dependent on residential property transfers, and his business is thriving for it.
The same goes for Ryan Bradbury, president, Viking Termite & Pest Control in Bridgewater, N.J. The business grew 18 percent in 2011 and will match that pace this year. As long as the restaurants in his area are full at dinnertime, he knows that residents have extra money to spend. “And if someone really has pest pressure, they are not afraid to get it taken care of by a professional,” he says.
In essence, that need vs. want aspect of pest control may be the very lifeline that has protected so many pest control businesses while other service industries have suffered. Housing aside, unemployment rate aside, there are still bugs out there. And there are still homeowners who want those bugs gone — and businesses that must mitigate pest problems for safety and sanitary reasons.
“Overall, the pest control market is surprisingly resilient,” says Gary Curl, industry analyst and owner of Specialty Products Consultants. “Total revenues are not as high as they were in 2005 and 2006, but there is still a significant amount of revenue being generated in the industry. And, at the end of the day, people still don’t want to have cockroaches, ants or bed bugs in their homes.”
Diversification saves. Faring well in a tough housing market requires diversification.
The housing market has mainly affected niche pest control businesses that solely focused on churning out inspection reports. “There were companies five years ago that were doing wood-destroying insect reports by the hundreds,” Putterman says.
And if that’s all those companies were doing, then business went real bad real fast.
The same goes for pre-treat services for new home construction. Pest control companies that dabbled in that work or had a technician or two focused on those services adjusted their business models to accommodate the changing market. But pre-treat specialists weren’t getting any phone calls.
Specializing in only those housing-related services burned businesses. “If you look at the South, where a lot of new homebuilding was going on, there was a whole part of the pest control industry that provided services for new builds, and that fractured off,” Liebel says. “I think the single-service oriented operations in the pest control industry got hit very hard.”
So the lesson throughout the housing crisis has been that diversification in customer mix and service offerings rules. And the ability to adapt and change with the times is a determining factor in a company’s success. This has always been a truth in business.
“A lot of people like to complain about how the housing markets ruin their businesses, but in fact, it has had very little affect on our business,” Putterman says, specifically addressing the Arizona office. “There is always change, and companies that don’t react to those changes have a lot of difficulty.”
In Arizona, Putterman says more money is spent per capita on pest control than any other state in the country thanks to pest pressure from the Senora Desert. “People purchase pest control out of need, not as an economic option,” he says.
Arizona was hugely hit by the housing crash. It changed the demographics of the state because people working in construction left to find other jobs in other states, Putterman says. “There were pockets of the state where housing was nearly abandoned.” And, the resale market collapsed to the point where the majority of sales during a two-year period were short sales or foreclosures.
“The pest control construction pre-treat was on the wane for a number of years, and now it is basically gone,” Putterman says. “It has been turned over to the hands of everyday operators rather than pretreat specialists.”
Today, being an everyday operator is a very good thing. And thinking outside of the box is critical.
“We figured out how to re-address the real estate market so we don’t lose our market share,” Putterman adds. “Now, we do more wood reports than we did three years ago.” Oliver Exterminating performs these reports for buyers (and there’s more of them today), and keeps the relationship going after the report is delivered.
Now, in Arizona, Putterman says there is some building, mostly infill construction in the core of metro Phoenix. “That’s great for us because it fits into our existing demographic,” he says. “That’s low risk, high profit, high reward.”
As for 2013, NAR’s Molony says the focus is for sales to increase another 7 or 8 percent to roughly 4.97 million and a continued gain in home prices. “We are now looking at home prices rising at normal rates, and we have not seen that kind of performance for the past six years,” he said “That is good for the broader economy.”
But this still isn’t “normal,” Curl points out, suggesting that the sales number would need to increase to 5.2 to 5.5 million, which realistically could take until 2015 or 2017. And for the most part, termite work is flat, he reports. “Despite all the cheerleading you see around housing numbers, it’s still a very challenging market.”
Pest control businesses with diverse customer and service mixes are likely feeling that much less than other service industries, though. “I wouldn’t say our industry is recession-proof, but it is recession resistant,” Curl says.
Hulett says this fact makes him downright thankful.
“No matter how tough it gets,” he says, “we all do pretty well.”
The author is a frequent contributor to PCT magazine. She can be reached at email@example.com.
The Pacific Northwest is known to have a strong green hue on its outlook about the environment. It’s also known as an incubator to some of the most recognizable names in the world, including Starbucks, Boeing and that burgeoning computer software outfit Microsoft.
So it should come as no surprise that the 56th annual meeting of the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO), held in Seattle Aug. 26-29, would feature a mixture of “green” thinking coupled with business pragmatism.
The state regulators attending, along with their federal counterparts, industry suppliers and pest management professionals, took part in a program that looked into the future of how the pest management industry might service the next generation of customers, and sank deep into the details of current regulatory issues facing the industry.
The session that progressive pest professionals can count on as a definitive picture of the future of pest management focused on green building construction and management practices and LEED certification.
Effects of LEED? What impact will LEED have on the average PMP? When you consider the U.S. Green Building Council, the governing body for LEED certification on existing building and new construction projects, is accrediting 1.5 million square feet of commercial and residential space per day, the answer is clear — the time is now.
LEED credits are awarded to architects, builders and building managers who identify and implement sustainable building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions in their projects. As the council’s website declares, the international initiative is “redefining the way we think about the places where we live, work and learn.”
Bob Rosenberg, acting executive vice president for the National Pest Management Association and the association’s long-time regulatory affairs representative, says LEED is an important driver of green pest management initiatives in the United States.
“It presents a business opportunity for pest management professionals who want to carve out a niche service offering,” says Rosenberg. “LEED is a recognizable brand with consumers and PMPs offering services in accordance with their standards are in a position to charge a premium for those services.”
Rosenberg says industry professionals are gaining a better understanding of the LEED process and that the U.S. Green Building Council’s pending new qualification standards (LEED v4 is due out in 2013) will be more in line with EPA’s IPM policy and established green pest management standards like GreenPro, EcoWise and Green Shield (see related article at the bottom of the article).
“It will make it easier for PMPs’ clients to understand what constitutes a green pest service and obtain credits,” says Rosenberg.
Under existing standards, LEED credit can be earned in the Existing Buildings: Operations & Management (Indoor Environmental Quality EQ) category if pest management professionals and building managers design and implement programs that reduce the levels of chemicals, biological and particulate contaminants in a structure.
Sara Cederberg, manager, LEED, for the U.S. Green Building Council, says the group is working to strike a balance in the market and promote LEED as more than just energy and water conservation, and indoor air quality, and include pest management services.
“Sustainable or green building practices are about implementing a holistic approach to designing, constructing and maintaining a property,” says Cederberg.
Pest management professionals can assist owners and property managers by designing and implementing management programs based on the latest IPM strategies that emphasize inspection, monitoring, exclusion, sanitation and cultural management practices.
|Brian Forschler of the University of Georgia (gray shirt) received the ASPCRO Hall of Fame Award for his work on termite research. Here, Derrick Lastinger (ASPCRO president, left) presents Forschler with the award.|
LEED certification can also be earned on new construction projects when treating the structure for termites by the use of a physical barrier. In the proposed LEED v4 standards, the building also will qualify for points if “all cellulosic structural material is treated with a registered pesticide containing borates” or by installing “a registered bait system and providing for ongoing maintenance.”
Under current LEED standards an application of a “chemical-free termite barrier system,” will earn one Innovation in Design credit for LEED NC projects. LEED H projects can choose from various “reduced pesticide” or “reduced impact” methods to earn a half-credit each or in combination to earn one credit in the Sustainable Sites category.
While LEED certification is available for both residential and commercial structures, there are only 20,000 LEED certified residential homes in the United States. The emphasis leans heavily toward commercial properties, a market segment most pest management professionals service on a daily basis.
Steve Dwinell, assistant director of the Division of Agricultural Environmental Services for the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, says ASPCRO is forming a committee to study the green building issue and help with education.
One of the committee’s tasks will be to develop training materials for builders, property managers and pest management professionals to help foster a better understanding of how to earn LEED credits for their work.
The Regulatory Docket. The rodenticide issue that dominated the agenda at last year’s ASPCRO meeting (stemming from EPA mandates regarding the sale of rodenticides to consumers, product placement and label language prohibiting the targeting of non-commensal rodents) was once again revisited in Seattle, but this time with a more encouraging tone.
The initial mandate limited applicators’ usage of anticoagulant rodent products to within 50 feet of a building. However, after discussion with various stakeholders, the agency moved that number back to 100 feet, changed “building” to “manmade structure,” and made alterations to the requirements governing the application of product to rodent burrows.
What still remains on the table, however, is the mandate on label language prohibiting the targeting of non-commensal rodents such as deer mice and pack rats, known vectors of dangerous public health threats such as Hantavirus, which recently claimed the lives of three people who were exposed to the virus while camping at Yosemite National Park in California.
NPMA’s Rosenberg says progress is being made toward resolving the issue with EPA and he feels confident the issue will be resolved. In fact, several states already grant 24(c) Special Local Need registrations to pest professionals to use products to control these potentially harmful pests.
Attendees also received updates on two other important regulatory issues that have a direct impact on the pest management industry — pyrethroid labeling and the Endangered Species Act.
The EPA’s new use directions and environmental hazard statements for non-agricultural outdoor pyrethroid product labels is significant to the industry due to the wide net it casts over products frequently used by PMPs, including liquid concentrates, broadcast granules, dusts and liquid ready-to-use products.
The new use statements are intended to prevent pesticide run-off from entering into storm drains, drainage ditches, gutters or surface waters. The EPA’s recommendation included:
- Termite pre-construction sites must be covered prior to a rain event to prevent run-off and not to treat while it is raining.
- Not overwatering granular, liquid, dust and ready-to-use products to the point of run-off following application.
- Not applying products directly to drains and sewers.
- Limiting outdoor applications to spot or crack-and-crevice treatments above 3 feet on buildings and on impervious surfaces.
The industry’s concerns were voiced by the NPMA and ASPCRO in separate letters to EPA. SFIREG, a federal advisory committee of state pesticide regulators, also expressed concerns.
The letters requested clarification on whether some of the statements were mandatory or merely a recommendation. EPA confirmed that the statements were advisory and not mandatory, and that PMPs would not be responsible for overwatering done by others (e.g. customers) That’s good news for PMPs who feared they would have more limited product and application options.
The letters also requested that the new label directions be expanded to treat for overwintering pests and occasional invaders such as stink bugs and kudzu bugs — pests that can’t be managed effectively by spot or crack and crevice treatments in most cases.
EPA initially denied the request for an expanded label but has been actively discussing the issue with industry stakeholders and NPMA’s Rosenberg feels the discussions are headed in a positive direction.
“PMPs need more flexibility on the label in order to effectively treat for certain types of pests,” says Rosenberg. “EPA has been open to suggestions and my gut tells me something will get done.”
The industry finds itself caught in the middle of litigation surrounding the EPA’s actions regarding product registration and the Endangered Species Act. The agency has been the target of lawsuits from activist groups claiming the EPA did not properly consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service when registering products.
The courts have generally found the EPA violated ESA by not consulting with the two agencies and as a result has issued interim use restrictions on some products in certain locations. This action has put a strain on pest management professionals trying to determine where or where not they can use certain products.
“Applicators will literally have to determine by the account’s address whether or not they can use a product,” says Rosenberg. “What is OK to use on one side of the street may not be OK to use on the other side.”
The Green Side of Pest Management
There are several voluntary green certification programs currently available on the market that PMPs can choose from. All the programs listed here require companies to have a written integrated pest management (IPM) plan in place and to commit to detailed record keeping practices. Contact the individual organizations for complete details.
The author is partner of B Communications, www.b-communications.com, an integrated communications/marketing firm specializing in the needs of pest management professionals. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legendary management guru Peter Drucker famously said, “Know and understand your customer so well that the product or service sells itself.” This theory summarizes exactly what B&G Equipment has been trying to do for nearly seven decades — develop and sell pest management professionals tools to make their work easier and more effective.
“The inventing is the fun part of the business but it’s not as easy as it looks from the outside,” said Cecil Patterson, president and CEO, B&G Equipment, Jackson, Ga. “A good idea, in and of itself, isn’t enough.”
Patterson, who has been at the helm of one the industry’s oldest and largest equipment manufacturers for more than 15 years, said it requires an entire team of talented people — engineering, marketing and manufacturing — to take a product from the drawing board to a technician’s service vehicle.
The three parameters Patterson and his team work within when developing a new idea from scratch are the concept, the design and the manufacturing process. He said each must work together to create a product that is economically feasible — and that is not always easy.
“Manufacturers can come up with a great idea for a product but not know how to build it, or it may be too expensive to make,” said Patterson. “All the stakeholders in the process have to work together to create a product that is economically feasible, or it just won’t fly.”
Orchestrating this manufacturing symphony of ideas, process and results isn’t new to Patterson. In fact, he virtually grew up with the sound of equipment manufacturing ringing in his ears.
Patterson’s father, Cecil E. Patterson, was instrumental in the development of the current-day B&G Sprayer. The original sprayer was developed by Purdue University students Bill Brehm and Paul Gilmore in the 1940s. Cecil E. Patterson worked as a representative for Spraying Systems, which manufactured the B&G’s spraying components. He created a gun-type design, which was introduced on all B&G sprayers in 1964 (and is still in use today).
Working the Mid-Atlantic region as a representative for Spraying Systems, Patterson’s father knew the Brehm family well and was a frequent caller to B&G Equipment’s original offices outside of Philadelphia, and B&G was the company’s biggest customer at the time. (The company relocated to Jackson in 2003.)
Working with his father throughought high school and college, the mechanically oriented Patterson developed a liking for the manufacturing business and joined Spraying Systems as a technical sales representative.
“Spraying Systems is by far the leader in spray technology in the world and they know how to build good equipment,” said Patterson. “That is where I got all my experience.”
Eventually, Patterson took over his father’s territory and worked it for nearly a dozen years before spending a couple of years pursuing other interests. Then Patterson received a call from the current representative of Spraying Systems — B&G might be looking for new ownership. His gut told him exactly what direction to head.
“I’ve had two jobs in my lifetime: working for Spraying Systems and working for B&G Equipment,” said Patterson.
Vast Market Knowledge. If you talk with successful business executives, most will say experience is the best teacher, and B&G has several well-taught staff members working on its behalf. “We have long-established people with a lot of field experience like Dr. Claude Thomas and Dr. Bill Robinson,” said Patterson. “They’ll take ideas out in the field and get feedback. They don’t sugarcoat it.”
|Video Tour of B&G
In the late 1940's, Bill Brehm and George Gilmore got together at Purdue University with one common goal, to design and construct a compressed air sprayer for the professional pest control market. That year they manufactured and sold six. Today, B&G occupies a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Jackson, Ga., with more than 85,000 square feet of manufacturing space. To learn more about B&G’s unique history, as well as its corporate philosophy, visit www.bgequip.com/HTML/about_us.html and take a video tour of the company’s manufacturing facilities.
Adhering to Peter Drucker’s quote on finding out what customers want, the eyes and ears of B&G’s staff, starting with Patterson, are always wide open and listening. “I’m always interested in talking to prospective customers, not just our own people internally,” said Patterson.
He pointed to customer feedback on the new Versaduster (see related story at the end of the article) at last year’s PestWorld convention, and how several suggestions he received on the show floor from PMPs were incorporated into the final design.
Another area Patterson feels strongly about is keeping the price of B&G’s products in line with what the market will pay. That means keeping price in mind from the start of the development and manufacturing process.
Veteran B&G Technical Director Robinson said Patterson’s first considerations when the development ideas start flying are the price of components and the features, which impact the price and affordability of any piece of equipment. “He wants it to work well and make the job of the technician easier but he wants it to be affordable,” added Robinson.
“You can invent anything in the world but if someone isn’t going to pay for it, there’s not much use to making it,” said Patterson. “People buy what they need, not what they want. That’s very, very important to remember.”
When asked what his most significant achievement has been during his 15-year tenure at B&G, Patterson points to fixing some design and quality control issues that were present when he took over. He is also proud of restoring the company’s reputation for building high-quality products.
“The products we put out today are of the highest quality and pest management professionals can rely on them to get the job done,” he said.
Under Patterson’s watch B&G also has diversified its revenue streams and grown globally. When Patterson arrived, 85 percent of the company’s sales were for sprayers and termite control equipment. Today, those two items represent less than 35 percent of the company’s business.
B&G has expanded into selling insect monitors, aerosol systems, dusters and rodent stations among an ever-growing and diverse product line. “We’re much more than just a company that makes compressed air sprayers,” said Patterson.
Diversification has led to success in overseas markets where B&G derives 25 percent of its business. An example of the acceptance of the company’s technology overseas is the Multi-Dose Bait Gun (see related story on page 78). Until its recent reengineering and re-launch in the U.S., 98 percent of sales were overseas, especially Asia and Europe.
“Both those markets saw the economics of a properly calibrated tool that gets everything out of 30-ounce tube of bait gel,” said Robinson, B&G’s technical director for the last 12 years.
In an industry that has seen technicians become increasingly versatile and multi-functional, B&G’s equipment must keep in step with the users of its products. Smaller, more portable and with the ability to track product usage and measure the true cost of a job in regard to materials used, are among the trends B&G and its competitors face.
“Building equipment that is of real value to PMPs is not easy,” said Patterson. “There is a lot of guesswork involved and you have to be a few years ahead of the market. In the past we had some doubters about the products we were introducing to the market, but that’s no longer the case today.”
Equipment Designed With a Purpose
B&G Equipment’s latest equipment and application innovations include a duster, multi-dose bait gun and the AccuSpray, which is a spin-off of its classic 1-gallon compressed air sprayer that fits on a technician’s tool belt. Like all its equipment, B&G has sought to create products that make technicians more efficient and their applications more effective.
PCT visited with Dr. Bill Robinson, technical director for B&G Equipment, to preview the equipment and to see how it will help technicians up their game when it comes to skilled application and problem solving.
Robinson, a former professor of entomology at Virginia Tech University, is also director of the Urban Pest Control Research Center in Christiansburg, Va. His years studying and observing thousands of insecticide applications in the United States and around the globe give Robinson a unique perspective on the needs of the industry’s front-line personnel.
“We want the equipment and application tools to enable the technician to look the customer in the eye and tell them they put the exact right amount of product, in the right spot and that their pest problem will be taken care of,” he said.
Robinson said the confidence in using the latest B&G products goes beyond ensuring exact amounts of products are applied correctly. He says it also gives customers peace of mind that unnecessary or over-application of pesticide was not performed within their home or office.
Robinson’s observations on the new lineup are as follows:
With dust applications making a revival among pest management professionals due to the rise in bed bug treatments, Robinson said the Versaduster helps amplify the message that dusts are still a viable treatment option, and not just for bed bugs. “We hope it will encourage technicians to think laterally and use dusts for other pests such as cockroaches,” he added.
Robinson said the idea for developing the product had come up often throughout the years as pest management professionals voiced some concern about taking the 1-gallon sprayer into a home or office due to consumer questions over pesticide exposure.
“This started our wheels turning and asking, ‘What can we give them?’” said Robinson. “The design fits well into the reduced pesticide use mindset and is what PMPs have been asking for.”
One of the keys to a successful baiting program is the consistent delivery of the product. The technician making the application needs to be consistent with every trigger-pull. B&G Equipment’s solution to the baiting challenge is the new and improved Multidose Bait Gun.
A properly calibrated bait gun will save pest control companies money (as much as a $1,000 per technician annually) and improve the effectiveness of their treatments, according to Robinson.
The author is a frequent editorial contributor to PCT magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.
It’s an exciting time to be a reporter for PCT, especially when it comes to providing daily industry news coverage. Technology has completely revolutionized the way PCT reports news. The first significant change occurred in the 1990s with the advent of the Internet, which shifted PCT’s news reporting cycle from monthly to daily. The next wave of changes is ongoing and it is a result of the rise in popularity of mobile technology, which has changed not only the frequency in which PCT reports news (from daily to hourly) but the content (more audio and video) as well as the vehicles we utilize to deliver the news (e.g., the PCT app, weekly PCT E-newsletter, Facebook and Twitter).
Just how big is the “mobile web” becoming? In 2010, Morgan Stanley released an 87-page report analyzing online trends and predicting the future of the Internet. According to the report, “Morgan Stanley’s analysts believe that, based on the current rate of change and adoption, the mobile web will be bigger than desktop Internet use by 2015.”
PCT is working hard to meet mobile device user demands by introducing new technology of our own and providing content that is popular among these users. For example, in May 2010 we introduced the PCT app, which our readers can download from iTunes for their iPhone and/or iPad. The first version of this app allows users to view a digital version of current and past PCT issues (in the exact same format as PCT magazine) and it also provides real-time news updates from www.pctonline.com. We’ve received great feedback on this app. Our mobile device users love having PCT at their fingertips and having the ability to catch up on industry-related news and features at their convenience. We are excited to report that the newest version of the PCT app will be rolled out in early 2013. This version will include many new features and functions to provide users with a “richer, more immersive” experience, including: custom-built for iPads; offline readability; stories will be more interactive, and in some cases use animation; improved social networking sharing options; and easier access to links within articles.
How is PCT’s content adapting to meet mobile device user demand? According to that same Morgan Stanley report, “Video accounts for 69% of mobile data traffic.” It’s for this reason PCT has continued to add multimedia files including video, podcasts, webinars and photo slideshows. For example, PCT has been conducting video interviews with pest management professionals at industry events. Just last month we caught up with more than a dozen industry professionals at NPMA PestWorld in Boston for video interviews on a wide variety of business and technical topics. These videos appear on PCT Online, but they also have been formatted with specs that allow for ease-of-use for mobile device users.
Another important way PCT has adapted our news coverage is by better utilizing social media. PCT Associate Editor Bill Delaney is our point person on Facebook and Twitter and he’s done a great job of not only posting PCT-generated content, but of sharing interesting pest-related stories and even digging through the PCT magazine archives for fun “finds.”
PCT is certainly not alone in this industry in terms of adopting — and taking advantage of — new technology. We’ve enjoyed observing how other PCOs, manufacturers, distributors, members of academia, etc., are using social media, mobile technology and other tools. From pest identification apps to Groupon specials, in many ways the utilization of mobile technology is the next frontier for an industry that thrives on innovating and adapting to change.
The author is Internet editor and managing editor of PCT magazine and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.