[Meetings & Conventions] "New" Bayer Unveiled At Pinehurst Event

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October 7, 2003

More than 175 leading pest management professionals from throughout the United States recently traveled to Pinehurst, N.C. – home of golfer Payne Stewart’s historic U.S. Open victory in 1999 – to attend a three-day conference hosted by Bayer Environmental Science. Titled "Profit With Premise," the high-profile meeting was in fact a coming-out party for the "new" Bayer following the protracted FTC/European Union divestment proceedings that effectively hamstrung the company for much of the past year.

In his opening remarks to attendees, Steve Burt, vice president, professional pest management, said, "We’ve undergone a change in culture, a change in organization and a change in the way we’re moving forward. What you’re going to see in the next three days is the new Bayer."

The conference, boasting a six-figure price tag, featured a keynote address by Hall of Fame football player Mike Ditka; an overview of a Bayer-sponsored re-treat study; a panel discussion of prominent PCOs and several industry researchers; and a tour of the company’s 281-acre research facility in nearby Clayton, N.C. (see related story, page 139).


SIX-MONTH STUDY. The centerpiece of the first day of the conference was a discussion of a controversial re-treat study conducted by Bayer ES earlier this year. Dr. Nick Hamon, director of development and technical services, said company executives expected the industry to view the results of the six-month study with skepticism, but that’s okay. "The goal of the project was to determine if we had a premium product or an also-ran," he said. "What we learned after collecting the data and analyzing the re-treat rates is we have a premium product, and we’re going to market it that way."

The six-month study was designed to track the performance of Premise since being introduced in 1996, the first non-repellent termiticide on the market. In February, members of Bayer’s Development & Technical Services Group fanned out across the country to ask customers if they would be willing to provide them with access to their Premise termite records on a confidential basis. For those who agreed to participate in the project, a manual search of the files was conducted to identify data relating to 40 different treatment variables, including construction type, treatment method and rate of application.

In all, 34 companies in 23 states provided data on more than 11,000 structures. The identity of the cooperating firms was kept confidential, but Bayer says they cover a cross-section of the industry, including 14 companies with annual revenues in excess of $2 million. No effort was made to "cherry-pick" the data to enhance results, according to Hamon. "We wanted this to be as accurate as possible so we would know exactly what was going on in the field, both good and bad," he said.

Interestingly, the study revealed there was no obvious correlation between re-treat rates and particular types of home construction. Soil type didn’t seem to make much of a difference either. Across all treated structures, "partial" treatments produced the highest retreat rate (1.95%), followed by perimeter treatments (1.24%), and conventional, full-label applications (0.68%). Across all types of treatments, the retreat rate was .88%, according to Hamon. "In greater than 99% of cases, Premise eliminated structural infestations within 30 days," he said.

While Hamon admits the study is likely to be viewed skeptically by the industry, he invites anyone who is interested to review the data. "This project took 6,000 man hours to complete so it was an expensive undertaking," he said. "With such a significant financial investment, we’re happy to provide the data to all who are interested so they can draw their own conclusions." Dr. Douglas Mampe, president of DM Consulting, is currently auditing the data to validate the results of the study.

"As exciting as this database is to us, we’re even more excited about what it represents to the industry," Hamon said. "It’s a tremendous resource, providing valuable insights into how various application rates, construction types, and other variables impact a termite treatment. It’s a mammoth piece of research we’ll be mining for years to come."

"During the last 15 years, we’ve had the privilege to live through the most dynamic period of change in the history of the industry," added Dr. Byron Reid, product development manager, Bayer ES. "We can use the lessons we learn from this database to do a better job in the future, which should be everyone’s goal, regardless of whether you’re a manufacturer or a PMP." To receive an overview of the research report, call Bayer ES at 800/331-2867.


MARKETING SUPPORT. Bayer executives were so emboldened by the results of the Premise retreat study that they unveiled an enhanced guarantee for its flagship product, which has lost considerable market share to Termidor in recent years. "While the old Premise guarantee was good, we believe our new guarantee is even better," Pete Farno, director of marketing, said.

In the past Bayer would cover only 50% of materials and labor costs in the event of a retreat; it will now cover 100% of materials and labor costs. In addition, over and above the guarantee, Bayer ES is now offering the "Premise Challenge" whereby the company will pay $50 per retreated structure if a firm should experience a retreat rate above 1%.

Farno also announced several enhancements to the company’s Accolades loyalty program. "The biggest frustration we heard was requiring PMPs to mail in their invoices. That’s why, effective January 1 we’re going to a paperless points system." In addition, the company is moving to a tiered benefits program and offering a "revamped" catalog of rewards that includes more "business-building" tools, including NPMA convention packages, laptop computers and Bayer products. "It’s all about offering tools that will help PMPs build their business," he said.

Day two of the conference was devoted to a panel discussion on "The Future of Termite Control" featuring Dr. Brian Forschler of the University of Georgia and Dr. Roger Gold of Texas A&M University, as well as Robert Hartley, Truly Nolen of America, Tucson, Ariz.; William Hoffman, Hoffman’s Exterminating, Mantua, N.J.; and Joey Harris, Cook’s Pest Control, Decatur, Ala.

They were followed on the program by a question and answer period with Bayer executives and a keynote address by NFL broadcaster Mike Ditka, the spokesperson for Bayer’s new drug Levitra, which was launched earlier this year. Ditka, a Super Bowl-winning coach and sought-after motivational speaker, urged attendees to keep success in perspective, while always setting new goals, regardless of one’s age.

"What is success?" he asked. "Is it money? Is it Super Bowls? Is it being in the Hall of Fame? I don’t think so. Find something you like to do and do it as well as you can," he said. "That’s what success is all about to me … climbing a mountain. And once you get to the top of that mountain find another one to climb."

CONCLUSION. On the final day of the conference, attendees boarded buses and toured Bayer’s new research facility in Clayton, N.C. With more than 33,000 square feet of research space on 281 acres, PCOs learned about the company’s latest research efforts, as well as new product developments, including newly registered Maxforce roach gel and the Maxforce Tick Management System.

Ultimately, however, the three-day conference was a bold effort by Bayer to regain the ground it has lost in recent years in the highly competitive termiticide market. Only time will tell if the "new" Bayer will have more success than the "old" Bayer in reinventing its termiticide business.

Bayer ES Looks To The Future With field Research and training center

As part of its renewed commitment to the pest management industry, Bayer Environmental Science (ES) has upgraded its field research and training center in Clayton, N.C., including increasing its staff fourfold, to provide the industry the highest quality products and support.

Bayer ES invited a select group of owner/operators, technical directors and others to tour the field research and training center in September.

Located on 281 acres, the Clayton facility includes both laboratories and field-testing sites to assist Bayer ES in the process of bringing new active ingredients (AIs) to market. The Clayton facility will provide for further testing, more collection of toxicological data and expanded field research. A number of buildings on the grounds were renovated and converted into laboratories for purposes such as product testing and insect rearing. In total, the Clayton facility now includes more than 8,000 square feet of laboratory space.

Products are further tested in the field. For example, the site includes various soil types, so termiticides can be more thoroughly tested to determine how well they work in different soils, as well as their environmental impact. In addition to pest management and vector products, turf and ornamental products also are tested at the Clayton facility. Part of the reason Bayer decided to include turf and ornamental product testing at the Clayton facility is because many PCOs have crossed over to this market.

Also included on the grounds is Bayer Termite University, a model of a home’s foundation where Bayer representatives, as well as pest management professionals, learn how to apply termiticides around a variety of structural entities such as pipes, walls, decks, etc. The site will eventually include an entire home. Moreover, Bayer Termite University is available for loyal Bayer ES customers to use for customized training programs.

"New Bayer has rededicated itself to serving (PCOs) better and the Clayton facility is really the centerpiece," according to Steve Burt, vice president, professional pest management. "It is the only site that is independent for environmental science products. We don’t get involved in agriculture at all. It is 280-plus acres dedicated to professional pest management, vector and turf and ornamental products."

The Clayton facility is an ideal site for a variety of reasons, most notably location. The region experiences seasonal changes, while at the same time its hot, humid climate makes it a moderate to heavy subterranean termite zone. In addition, Clayton is centrally located in the eastern United States, thus making it more convenient for pest management professionals and leading university researchers to visit. — Brad Harbison

Bayer ES Looks To The Future With Field Research and Training Center

As part of its renewed commitment to the pest management industry, Bayer Environmental Science (ES) has upgraded its field research and training center in Clayton, N.C., including increasing its staff fourfold, to provide the industry the highest quality products and support.

Bayer ES invited a select group of owner/operators, technical directors and others to tour the field research and training center in September.

Located on 281 acres, the Clayton facility includes both laboratories and field-testing sites to assist Bayer ES in the process of bringing new active ingredients (AIs) to market. The Clayton facility will provide for further testing, more collection of toxicological data and expanded field research. A number of buildings on the grounds were renovated and converted into laboratories for purposes such as product testing and insect rearing. In total, the Clayton facility now includes more than 8,000 square feet of laboratory space.

Products are further tested in the field. For example, the site includes various soil types, so termiticides can be more thoroughly tested to determine how well they work in different soils, as well as their environmental impact. In addition to pest management and vector products, turf and ornamental products also are tested at the Clayton facility. Part of the reason Bayer decided to include turf and ornamental product testing at the Clayton facility is because many PCOs have crossed over to this market.

Also included on the grounds is Bayer Termite University, a model of a home’s foundation where Bayer representatives, as well as pest management professionals, learn how to apply termiticides around a variety of structural entities such as pipes, walls, decks, etc. The site will eventually include an entire home. Moreover, Bayer Termite University is available for loyal Bayer ES customers to use for customized training programs.

"New Bayer has rededicated itself to serving (PCOs) better and the Clayton facility is really the centerpiece," according to Steve Burt, vice president, professional pest management. "It is the only site that is independent for environmental science products. We don’t get involved in agriculture at all. It is 280-plus acres dedicated to professional pest management, vector and turf and ornamental products."

The Clayton facility is an ideal site for a variety of reasons, most notably location. The region experiences seasonal changes, while at the same time its hot, humid climate makes it a moderate to heavy subterranean termite zone. In addition, Clayton is centrally located in the eastern United States, thus making it more convenient for pest management professionals and leading university researchers to visit. — Brad Harbison