It’s universal. Whenever you ask someone in the industry “What (or who) is the backbone of structural pest control?” you get the same answer: the technician.
After all, it’s the technician who literally takes your brand into the homes and businesses of your customers. Generally speaking, the customer doesn’t think of you, the firm’s owner, as their point of contact. Homeowners think of pest control in terms of the residential technician who is in their home, knows their kids and sometimes even has a key to the house. Hospitals, schools and food processors think of pest control in terms of the commercial technician who often has access to their account at night, when no one else is in the facility. And homeowners and commercial customers alike think of pest control in terms of the termite technician who protects their home or business from those insects that can destroy a structure from the foundation up.
It’s these individuals who take pest management “to the streets” and represent us all so professionally. That’s why it’s PCT’s honor to once again recognize our Technicians of the Year, a project that began in 1996. The program, sponsored by BASF, is one of PCT’s most important because it gives us the opportunity to honor the contributions of the industry’s frontline professionals. Each year, PCT solicits nominations from owners, managers and technical directors from across the country and our judges (Dr. Bobby Corrigan, Dr. Fred Whitford, Dr. Austin Frishman and Dr. Richard Kramer) determine the winners in three categories (residential, commercial and termite). (Be sure to read this year’s profiles in this issue, starting on page 55.)
Here’s a brief introduction to each of this year’s winners:
PCT’s 2013 Residential Technician of the Year Tony Decker, Scherzinger Pest Control, Cincinnati, Ohio, is a 19-year veteran whose skills go beyond solving pest problems. He knows technology, understands the operational aspects of the business and delivers flawless customer service. Moreover, he inspires coworkers with an infectious, positive attitude.
Robert “Corky” Long, PCT’s 2013 Commercial Technician of the Year, has been handling some of (Springfield, Mo.) Presto-X’s most challenging commercial accounts the last nine years. Long services several organic facilities where thorough inspections and IPM solutions are a must because no pesticides (or very few pesticides) can be used. Long also helps his clients prepare for third-party audits, many of whom receive perfect scores.
A specialist with more than 13 years of experience, Shawn Svehla, Turner Pest Control, Jacksonville, Fla., is PCT’s Termite Technician of the Year. Svehla’s area of expertise is managing and conducting residential and commercial pretreatments. He has single-handedly pretreated millions of new construction square feet for Turner Pest Control, tackling his schedule with a steadfast approach and a focus on details.
“This year’s honorees excel in areas that are critical to the success of your companies, including, technical abilities, communication skills, excellent service and mentoring opportunities. It’s our hope that their stories serve as examples for other service professionals,” said PCT Internet Editor Brad Harbison, who heads up this project.
And continuing along the celebratory theme, PCT and Syngenta this year honored the 25th annual class of the Crown Leadership Award winners. The first Leadership Awards Ceremony was held in a hotel room in Seattle in 1989. This year, hundreds of people packed a ballroom in Phoenix for the event’s silver anniversary. (See the photo review on page 32.)
“For 25 years it’s been a sustained effort by PCT and Syngenta,” Syngenta’s Scott Reasons said at this year’s ceremony. “We’ve had more than 250 recipients during this time...It’s not just about the efforts they put forth every day as great businessmen and great influencers, but it’s the role they play as market shapers — those thought leaders that are really doing more for the industry than just impacting their immediate surroundings or their business. They are setting trends, and that is really what we look for with these honorees.”
It’s an honor for PCT to present these awards and we look forward to doing so for many years to come. And speaking of years to come, the PCT staff wishes you, your family and your firm a Happy New Year. May 2014 bring good luck and good fortune to you and yours!
The author is editor of PCT magazine.