FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — Last month, Virginia PMPs converged in Richmond, Va., at the Sheraton Park South for the 6th annual Virginia Pest Management Association (VPMA) State Technical Meeting. The State Technical Meeting is structured to provide a full day of business management training, followed by a full day of technical training by nationally renowned speakers. With this year’s attendance holding strong, VPMA seems to have the right formula for creating a top-notch, value-packed learning experience.
Headlining business management speaker, Cindy Mannes (Arrow Exterminators) led a session on the role of sustainability in a company. Using Arrow’s current model of sustainability as the backbone of their company culture, Mannes shared how it is used to operate every facet of their business. A panel of VPMA members (Mike Angove; Dodson Bros., Gena Lupini; Loyal T & PC, Neal Straker; ProTech PC of VA, Eddie Connor, Jr.; Connor’s Pest Protection and Chuck Roach; A-Active T & PC) shared their real world experience in dealing with the business of bed bugs. This panel covered many aspects of the business end of providing bed bug services. It touched on topics from contracts to consumer education; from the time and cost of doing a proper inspection and treatment to recordkeeping, and an exploration of several non-chemical tools in the bed bug toolbox.
Jim Fredericks, technical services director at NPMA, followed this panel with a discussion of NPMA’s Bed Bug Best Management Practices (BMPs). This document, developed by a committee of researchers, regulators and PMPs, has been widely circulated since its release in January of this year. Fredericks hit the high points of the BMPs including the guiding principles. The principles are: integrated methods, community-wide approach, education and consumer protection, all from a stance of professionalism. The BMPs provide guidance in the areas of service agreements, recordkeeping, technician and sales staff training, client education, disposal of beds, furniture, possessions, bed bug detection, treatment methods, and health and safety concerns.
Marie Horner, Director of Operations for Bruce-Terminix, talked to the conference attendees about utilizing every person in your organization as a Partner in Growth (PIG). Using Bruce-Terminix’s model of PIG, she explained how tapping into the potential sales growth inherent in your current accounts can develop all the growth your company needs or can handle.
VPMA, for the first time in STM history, welcomed a representative of the EPA to the podium. Lee Tanner, an Environmental Protection Specialist with the EPA, warmed to the pest management crowd with a smile and good-natured outlook. Tanner shared clarifying information about the green building industry in general, and how it specifically relates to pest management. While that made up the bulk of his presentation, he did touch on new EPA initiatives like School IPM and vector borne disease strategies.
The final session for the business management day was given by industry heavy-hitter, Mark “Shep” Sheperdigian. Shep, VP of Technical Services for Rose Pest Solutions out of Michigan, put his heart into discussing how important personal protective equipment is to the safety and well-being of our industry.
VPMA held its annual meeting and Pest Fest following the first day of training. The evening’s event was anchored by the extraordinary barbeque talents of Harry Bryan, with Nisus. Having driven his “Q” rig up from Tennessee, Harry helped us host the first annual Swine Ball. The pig calling contest, with 5 contestants, was a highlight of the evening. Congratulations to our winner, the Virginia Prince of Pig Calling, Roger Lamm with Federal Exterminating. The entire evening was a great success. It featured the Association’s annual meeting, election results and the awarding of the 14th annual VPMA Industry Lifetime Stewardship Award to Jeff Johnson, VPMA’s current president and long time board member.
In addition, VPMA made scholarship awards to three students doing research at the Dodson Urban Pest Management Lab at Virginia Tech, under Dr. Dini Miller. Beth Duncan, Chair of the Scholarship Committee shares, “VPMA is in a unique position to financially support the VT students who are doing the research that will benefit our entire industry – this is research that Dr. Dini Miller is presenting all over the country.” On top of the business of the evening, the Association raised over $1,000 for the VPMA Scholarship Fund to support ongoing research of graduate students at Virginia Tech.
The hallmark of the State Technical Meeting is the second day’s technical training. With an all-star cast of speakers from around the country, VPMA provided the nearly 200 people in attendance with a unique opportunity to learn from the nation’s leading entomologists. Headlining speaker, Dr. Bobby Corrigan, was welcomed back to Virginia to speak to the conferees about the Evolution of Applicators to Analyzers in the Pest Management Industry. His fast-paced presentation covered the evolving nature of our pest management tools, as well as the changing character of our customers. These changes have contributed to the evolution of professionals in our industry from applicators to analyzers.
Later in the day, Dr. Corrigan also shared his expertise on his favorite topic – Rats and Rat Control. Dr. Corrigan reminded us that due to the complexity and sophistication of commensal rodents, inspection is a vital first step in rodent control.
Shep returned to the podium during the technical day to discuss the biology and control of filth flies. Tackling the tough problems using the biology of these flies was a vital part of this presentation. Shep used the idea of “Integrated Fly Management” to highlight all the aspects of fly control.
Dr. Faith Oi (University of Florida) spoke on fact and fiction surrounding termites and the other “reportable” wood destroying insects. Being able to discern the difference between fact and fiction is critical to providing correct treatment and decreasing the liability associated with WDIs.
Liza Fleeson, Program Manager for VDACS-OPS, addressed the crowd about the good, the bad and the necessity of pesticide regulation. Liza’s lively presentation about changes at VDACS-OPS and new and pending state and Federal regulations gave our State Technical meeting attendees valuable information that helps keep their businesses compliant!
The State Technical Meeting featured Virginia’s favorite entomologist, Dr. Dini Miller (Virginia Tech) speaking on how application methods for German Cockroach control can improve efficacy in public housing. This hot-off-the-presses research-based information is valuable in deciding what tools to use in the battle against cockroaches, and how best to use them.
Molly Stedfast and Reina Koganemaru, two graduate students working under Dr. Dini Miller who are also VPMA scholarship recipients, gave updates on their bed bug research at the State technical Meeting. Molly spoke on the effectiveness of diatomaceous earth against bed bugs. Reina spoke on the bed bug’s cuticle as a first defense against insecticides.
“VPMA can provide this caliber of speakers as a result of the heavy sponsorship provided by supplier members of the Association,” said Nick Lupini, Education Committee Chair. “The highest level of sponsorship is provided by BASF, Bayer, Bell Labs, CNI & Fireman’s Fund, Dow Agrosciences, Dupont, Forshaw, Nisus and Residex Turfgrass.” In addition to these “Gold” sponsors, VPMA reports dedicated sponsorship by “Silver” sponsors: Ehrlich, Ensystex, FMC, LiphaTech, ThermaStor, TAP Insulation, Univar and Zoecon.
Conference attendees had several opportunities to visit the 28 exhibit tables throughout the two-day conference. Sponsors and exhibitors used this time to share new products and services, as well as promote tested products that have served our industry well over the years.