Texas A&M's Mike Merchant recently had the opportunity to visit with scientists at Research Associates Labs in Addison, Texas. Merchant learned about a new application of DNA fingerprinting that he believes could have exciting uses in the pest control industry. Merchant recently chatted with one of Research Associates' scientists, Dr. Kate Johnson, who was explaining the service to PMPs attending the first ever Bed Bug Academy of the Southwest sponsored by the Texas Pest Control Association. See what Dr. Johnson had to say in the following video.
On the Dec. 28 episode of TLC's "Hoarding: Buried Alive," viewers met Sherry, a woman who's coped with depression and the loss of her mother by not coping with the growing mess in her own home. It's driven her husband out of the house and provided the perfect environment for a slew of creepy crawly tenants. Click here to watch.
The insects were, in fact, skittering across surfaces throughout the house. An open can of food in the kitchen alone was filled three inches deep with roaches. Even the refrigerator, or what one exterminator called "an incubator," was packed with them.
And as it turned out, unbeknownst to Sherry, roaches weren't her only pest problem. Hidden beneath trash on her kitchen floor, exterminators found a nest of black widow spiders.
"I'm really concerned about the safety of you and your kids in that house," a psychologist warned Sherry after the spider discovery. "This is a really disturbing environment. It's not safe."
We are about to start 2012 and being ready for third-party audits that will occur in your clients' facilities is vital. While government agency audits are important, more often clients are audited by third-party auditing bodies as a requirement to sell their product to another processor or retailer.
Our clients' compliance with third-party audit requirements and the resulting audit scores determine the completion or continuation of their contracts to sell their products. Thousands or millions of dollars could hang in the balance. While our portion of these audits is usually one fifth or less of the total score, pest issues can trigger an automatic failure. That places a great deal of importance on having our portion of these audits compliant and ready. So how do we prepare for these audits?
Know your standards. The first step in meeting audit requirements is to know the various standards. This sounds simple, but it is not always so easy. It's a challenge to obtain the latest copies of all standards so be sure you have the correct standards for the industry you are working with.
Compile files with the standards for every auditing body you are aware of. As you hear of new standards be sure to obtain them. Then make a spreadsheet to compare the different standards of each auditing body. Determining the most common and the strictest standard will prove useful to your sales team moving forward. I obtain the standards through the auditing bodies' website and from my clients. Know the standard. It's imperative if you wish to have a knowledgeable and professional meeting with your client.
When working on a specific client's audit compliance, schedule a meeting with your client's point of contact to review what is required from their point of view. During that meeting I request a copy of the standards they've been asked to meet. Occasionally I find their copy is different than what I've downloaded. In addition, sometimes the client's corporate QA department has developed its own SOP that must be integrated into the audit standards. In some cases the corporate SOP already has combined the client's requirements and all of the audit standards they've agreed to have.
Once you have the standards for your client clearly in mind, read your agreement with them to see if it complies with the standard. Every audit of a pest control program starts at the front of the logbook with a review of what the contract indicates you will do at the facility. If the contract or service agreement does not comply with the standards, the entire program will be under suspicion. It has given the auditor the impression that you and your client have not developed a pest control program that will meet the required standards. The auditor will wonder if you really know what you are doing. Your client will be wondering the same thing.
Communicate. Several crucial elements of an audit are out of the control of technicians, field managers and QA staff. Those elements may be contracts; licenses; certificates of insurance; tracking and trending information; and approved material lists. Your corporate office may handle most of these items. They may not understand how their part can play a "make or break" role in an audit at your client's facility. Communicating this will help the staff pull together and prevent stress at audit time.
The sales team will be a great asset in getting contracts that comply with your client's standards. The easiest time to get into compliance is from the start. From the first contact with the prospective client you should be inquiring about auditing standards. There may be any number of standards: AIB, Silliker, NSF, SQF, BRC, ISO and more. Asking for previous audit results in the pest control area and related comments will help you know where to focus. Design the program to meet the standards and you will be on your way to success.
Finance and regulatory team members may not know how critical licenses and insurance renewals are in an audit. This is normally the second thing an auditor inspects. While we know that we can complete our portion of the license renewal and return it well before the due date, we also know that we are at the mercy of the state to process the license. If a current license copy is not in the client's book, they will expect you to get a current copy in a matter of hours. The same holds true for certificates of insurance. Planning ahead and striving to have these documents renewed before the expiration date arrives is stressful, but far less stressful for all concerned than dealing with it during an audit the day after it expires. If you see that a state is running behind, contact them and ask for a letter stating that you have submitted your renewals. Supply a copy of this letter and the renewal forms to your client to be added to the logbook. This has satisfied almost all auditors who I have encountered.
The IT team is becoming indispensable if you want to be ready for an audit. The audit standards have propelled most of us into the electronic data-capturing mode. This is the easiest way to comply with most of the newer requirements of mainstream auditing standards. Having great communication with IT is critical, helping them to understand the atmosphere in an audit is paramount. Ask an IT team member to accompany your QA team member while an audit preparatory QA is being conducted. It will give them a vital understanding of just how important their role is during a third-party audit. Then they will be in the best place to assist you in getting the required information on the service reports and knowing how to best develop the tracking and trending so crucial in today's auditing world.
The technical team is usually plugged in to the audit process more than most, but everyone can get behind schedule, resulting in a necessary component in the client's logbook being out of date. An approved material list must be updated in the field (as new situations arise) and in the office. Even if the list has not changed, many audit standards require that they be reviewed and signed on a yearly basis.
The QA team is a technician's best friend. By developing a checklist that will ensure you have met the standards and have all of the required documentation, you'll have the fail-safe system you need to be prepared for an audit. A simple Excel spreadsheet will do the job. The checklist is the best way to prevent forgetting the smallest issue that needs to be checked or addressed when correcting any deficiencies found in the auditor's review. I have been auditing facilities many years and still use the checklist to prevent mistakes. It's the single most important tool after establishing the standards and developing your program in preparing for the audit.
The QA team usually leads in collecting and maintaining the auditing body's standards, auditing the facility site maps for accuracy, performing annual assessments, and giving instructions for archiving log book contents early each year. They are keenly aware that a messy logbook will frustrate an auditor and often result in lower audit scores.
Service & Document. This may seem to be a given for the technician, but meeting the standards for audit day may be impossible if you have not followed the standard during each of the previous services. This is especially true with electronic documentation.
Review the standards and the contract so you know what is required. Always keep your ear open to any hint that your client may be adding a new auditing standard since upgrading to a more demanding audit is a fact of life.
Ensure your equipment is clean and meets all standards. This is difficult in some facilities, but "you never have a second chance for a first impression." In this case, your equipment will give the auditor a first impression about your level of service after he inspects the first few stations, traps and monitors.
Ask the QA team for a copy of its checklist so you can be audit-ready at all times by auditing yourself. If they do not use one, or your company does not have a QA team, develop your own checklist. Anticipate unannounced audits. Be ready.
Update yearly. Many audit standards require yearly re-evaluations. Don't make this a routine and unproductive effort. Use this to re-evaluate the program and determine if it is meeting the needs of the facility. This should be a joint effort with input from the technician, manager, QA and the client's facility team. This is the time to discuss issues that you believe can enhance the pest control program, or issues that are making the program less than effective. If the client is upgrading its audit standards, this is the time to hash through it. In the end, a plan that you and your client agree to will define the service for the next year.
The author is an Associate Certified Entomologist and director of technical services at Gregory Pest Solutions, Greenville, S.C. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
Copesan is an alliance of pest management companies with locations throughout North America. To learn more, visit www.copesan.com.
Enter your name to win a copy of ‘The Real State of America Atlas’, a book cited in the December PCT feature "Mapping the Myths and Truths of the United States."
Click here to enter.
Virginia Prep Course Delivers ACE Training
FREDERICKSBURG, VA. — The Virginia Pest Management Association conducted an Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE) Prep Course in August that helped prepare 23 participants to take the Entomological Society of America's (ESA's) exam.
The certification is designed for pest professionals who have the knowledge and experience (at least seven years) of pest identification, behavior and treatment, but don't have the formal education to attain their Board Certified Entomologist (BCE) designation.
Dr. Dini Miller of Virginia Tech and Jim Fredericks, technical director of NPMA, conducted the full day of training that included a review of general pest knowledge for biting and stinging pests, cockroaches, ants, rodents, stored product pests and wood-destroying insects. Pest management tools and practices and pesticide safety, laws and labels were also covered.
Prior to the VPMA ACE Prep course, Virginia had only a handful of ACE certified professionals. VPMA President Jeff Johnson, who attained his ACE designation through a prep course offered in Florida in 2010, was instrumental in bringing the ACE program to Virginia. VPMA plans to hold another ACE Prep Course during the winter of 2012. Those interested in taking the exam must submit an application with ESA at least 30 days in advance.
Nine professionals recently earned ACE certification through the VPMA program:
Industry Group Launches Pyrethroid Information Web Site for PMPs
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The pest management industry now has an online resource dedicated to keeping it abreast of new labeling and regulatory requirements related to products containing widely used pyrethroid pesticides, an industry group announced recently.
The site, www.pwg2pmp.com, is intended to serve as the "go-to" pyrethroid resource for pest management professionals, according to officials from the Pyrethroid Working Group (PWG).
"There are major developments at both the federal and state level that will have a direct impact on PMPs and how they conduct business," said Fred Pearson, chairman of the PWG. "Because of this, we believe it is important to assist our customers who apply our products commercially."
Pest control operators may soon be required to make changes in how they apply pyrethroid pesticides. The new requirements are contained in updated surface water regulations proposed by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CPDR) and in label changes required by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help ensure that pesticides are applied in a manner to minimize runoff that may reach surface waters.
The web site offers an overview of the new labeling requirements in development at EPA, Pearson said, as well as related regulations under consideration at the state level, especially in California. "This issue is on the front burner in California," he added. "CDPR is implementing the federal changes more quickly and is promoting regulations that target urban uses."
The new website provides PMPs with an easy way to monitor and participate in the regulatory process by enabling them to subscribe to e-mail alerts, which will notify them of new developments. For more information, visit www.pwg2pmp.com.
The Pyrethroid Working Group is comprised of following companies: AMVAC Chemical; Bayer CropScience; Cheminova; DuPont Crop Protection, Stine-Haskell Research Center; FMC Corporation, Agricultural Products Group; Syngenta Crop Protection; and Valent BioSciences Corporation.
"Pest Quest" Children's Show Debuts Second Season
FAIRFAX, VA — The NPMA's Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA) has debuted its second season of "Pest Quest," the educational children's show designed to teach youngsters about the fascinating world of insects, rodents and small wildlife. New this season is the "Critter Crafts" feature, which directs viewers to a series of bug-inspired arts and crafts videos on the website kidcrittercrafts.com. The new season of "Pest Quest" is available on the NPMA websites pestworld.org and pestworldforkids.org.
A group of energetic pre-teens host the show from their colorful science lab, and topics delve into what makes insects, rodents and wildlife so interesting. From red mouse tears to glowing scorpions and flying squirrels, the pest facts are designed to keep kids engaged. PPMA says the Critter Crafts videos create a new layer of entertainment and offer activity ideas for parents and teachers.
"The response to the first season of 'Pest Quest' was so great that we had to create more of this entertaining and educational content for viewers," said Missy Henriksen, executive director of PPMA. "With the addition of Critter Crafts and new fun facts, we hope that children will further develop an interest in the fascinating world of entomology and also learn about the importance of keeping some of these species out of our homes where they can become pests posing risks to our health and property."
Twenty-four episodes have been produced for the second season of "Pest Quest," which includes pests from all over the world. New episodes will be posted to the Pest Quest Channel, www.pestworld.com/pestquest, twice a month. Following the success of Season One's inclusion in MagRack for distribution via OnDemand, Season Two will also be available in Mag Rack's Kid's section. This coverage is designed to bring "Pest Quest" and the industry's core messaging objectives directly into the homes of consumers across the country, PPMA says.
All industry members can direct customers to this free family and school-friendly content as part of their community programs. As with the previous season, PPMA investors are able to link to the Pest Quest show from their own websites. And, starting this season, PPMA investors can also include the Critter Crafts logo and link on their websites as an added bonus.
PPMA offers a variety of programs designed for use in the classroom and on the family computer for children in grades K through 8. Lesson plans, science projects, report writing programs, interactive games and other fun facts are available on www.pestworldforkids.org.
Jan. 16-18: W.C.T. 18th Annual Seminar, Flamingo Las Vegas, Nev. Contact: 815/286-3039.
Jan. 17-19: Structural Pest Management Association of Ontario Conference, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Contact: Visit www.spmao.ca or call 800/461-6722.
Jan. 18-20: NPMA Eastern Conference, Bally’s Atlantic City, Atlantic City, N.J. Contact: NPMA, 703/352-6762 or visit www.npmapestworld.org.
Jan. 23-27: Florida Pest & Lawn Care Expo, Orlando. Contact: 800/426-4829 or visit www.flpma.org.
Jan. 23-25: Action Canine Institute’s Canine Handler Seminar, Manistee, Mich. Contact: http://actionwdi.com/canine-team-seminar or call 231/723-6888.
Jan. 26-27: NPMA Southwestern Conference, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Albuquerque, N.M. Contact: See Jan. 18.
Univar PP&S Redesigns PestWeb
AUSTIN, Texas — Univar Professional Products & Services has redesigned its website, www.pestweb.com, detailing the company's resources in the structural pest control market.
The new website features easier access to content and a bold new look and feel, the company says. Whether accessing PestWeb from a PC, tablet or smart phone, visitors will find PestWeb.com to be faster and easier to navigate, the company says. Enhanced pest and product information across multiple categories can be accessed through the new Pest Information section. The site's Premier Services area offers time-saving tools for service professionals, such as the EZ-Order Online Catalog & Order Entry; Product Documents (providing access to MSDS sheets and product labels); Pest and Weed ID Applications; Master Technician Online Training (which has approved online CEU status for 33 states and one Canadian province); and Ask Mr. Pest Control (where questions are submitted and answers are generated from industry- and manufacturer-provided information).
AB Bait Products Adds Distribution Partners
BETHLEHEM, PA. — AB Bait Co., supplier of the Brigand Rodenticide lines, has added The Bug Stop of Chicago, Ill.; Wildlife Control Supplies of East Granby, Conn.; and Harvest Supply Company of Fort Worth, Texas; to its distribution network.
AB Bait said the additions will improve availability of Brigand Soft Bait and Brigand Wax Blocks for PMPs in the Midwest, northeastern United States and central Texas. Brigand rodenticides are manufactured by PelGar International in the United Kingdom.
|Comings & Goings
If your company has added new personnel, send a photo and press release to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Memoriam: Bettie Portwood
AKRON, OHIO — Elizabeth "Bettie" Portwood, who, with her late husband Norman, was a longtime owner of Akron, Ohio-based TNT Exterminating, died on Oct. 21. She was 93.
In addition to her involvement with TNT Exterminating, Portwood was an active association member and was the first and only woman to serve as president of the Ohio Pest Management Association.
TNT Exterminating was founded in Akron in 1935 by Norman's father, Harold Portwood. In 1962, Bettie and Norman Portwood met with Akron city health officials with the goal of forming a local professional pest control association. The Summit County Pest Control Association was born with 18 members, including Dick Schroeder of Southern Mill Creek Products. Bettie served as the Summit County Pest Control Association's first secretary/treasurer, a role she held for 44 years. In 1973, Bettie served as first and only woman to be elected president of the Ohio Pest Management Association. It's for these contributions that PMPs such as Rich Kozlovich, owner of Pest Management, Mentor on the Lake, Ohio, referred to Bettie as "Ohio's First Lady of Pest Control."
"Her impact on people in the pest control industry can't be overstated," said Kozlovich.
Bettie and Norman Portwood owned TNT Exterminating until 1988, when they sold the company to Gerry and Janet Grace. The Graces ran TNT for seven years before selling the business to son Mike Grace, the company's current owner, in 1995.
"What allowed my parents to follow through with the acquisition was the knowledge that Norm and Bettie had such integrity," Mike Grace said. "There was never a concern that it was a questionable venture. They were first-class people — just very humble and very gracious."
Bettie is survived by daughter, Jean Davis Almquist; grandsons, Liam and Colm Davis, all of Evanston, Ill.; two nieces and one nephew. — Additional information for this story provided by Rich Kozlovich
BASF Debuts "Pest Talk" Blog
ST. LOUIS — BASF launched its first blog, BASF Pest Talk, at www.pest-talk.basf.us. The blog was developed as an online forum on industry issues, trends and regional happenings for BASF and its customers.
"Over the past few years, our customers' online demand for information and feedback has increased greatly," said Dan Carrothers, business unit manager for BASF Pest Control Solutions. "We're hopeful the blog facilitates peer-to-peer discussions about industry challenges and opportunities and helps address pest management professionals' latest issues and successes."
Pest management professionals can visit BASF Pest Talk to react to pest problems, keep up on trends and industry insight, and access tools and resources. BASF Pest Talk also offers technical expertise to help ease issues relating to pest management. PMPs interested in pest control tips, insect identification and frequently asked questions can visit BASF Pest Talk to learn more. Regular content will cover industry news, events, people and solutions, the company said.
For more information on BASF products and solutions visit www.pestcontrol.basf.us.
Please send press releases about your firm to email@example.com.
Isotech Pest Management, Pomona, Calif., was named to Inc. magazine's 5000 Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies. The company's rapid growth earned it a spot on the list for the second consecutive year. Isotech is featured on Discovery Channel series, "Verminators."
Delsea Termite and Pest Control, Kenvil, N.J., added BedBug Chasers heat treatment services to its list of offerings to combat bed bugs. BedBug Chasers is the rental source for Avtron BedBug Chaser heaters, high-temperature electric forced convection heaters.
Terminix Service was a major sponsor for the 3rd annual "Golfing with the Phil" event in September at the Member's Club at Woodcreek in Columbia, S.C. (see photo below). All proceeds from Golfing with the Phil support the South Carolina Philharmonic's Masterworks and education programs.
Pestmaster Services, Bishop, Calif., renovated and relaunched its website, www.pestmaster.com. The new site provides more information about the company's green extermination practices. In addition, consumers can locate Pestmaster franchisees in their area, and many customers now have access to online bill pay.
HomeTeam Pest Defense acquired Atlantic Pest Solutions based in Jacksonville, Fla., owned by Kevin Maxwell. This is the third time HomeTeam has acquired a business owned by Maxwell.