[Viewpoint] Why are you in business

Why are you in business? For many it’s likely a desire to provide a better life for one’s family. For others it’s simply their passion, a way to satisfy the competitive instincts that are an inherent characteristic of all successful entrepreneurs. For those in second- and third-generation pest control businesses, it’s all about building a family legacy. Regardless of your motivation for being in business, however, it has been my observation that those who experience the greatest satisfaction from their work — regardless if they’re young or old — are those who use their financial gifts and enhanced standing in the community to help others. These outreach activities may take the form of assisting employees in need, donating to a worthy cause, or taking on a leadership role in a civic group or community service organization. In all cases, however, such actions represent the finest qualities of the human spirit, something all of us should aspire to in the coming year.

After covering the pest management industry for more than 25 years, I’ve also discovered that it’s virtually impossible to predict who is going to be the most charitable among us, regardless of how well we think we know our industry colleagues. The old saying, "you can’t tell a book by its cover" is certainly true when it comes to identifying those individuals who are likely to exhibit the greatest altruistic tendencies. Often, the individuals who appear to be the most competitive, the most outspoken in highly charged business situations, possess the biggest heart. Such is the case with Lon Records, president of Target Specialty Products, Santa Fe Springs, Calif. Lon is one of the most competitive people I know, an individual who will defend his position passionately, protect his turf at all costs, but at the end of the day still knows what’s most important in life — relationships.

For the past seven years, Records and his colleagues at Target Specialty Products have sponsored a charity golf tournament that has generated thousands of dollars in donations for the American Cancer Society. This past year, the tournament was dedicated to Malcolm Stack, founder of Bell Laboratories, as well as two recent cancer survivors, Chuck Dal Pozzo of Monterey Agricultural Products, and Steven Stringer of Cleary Chemical Co. The tournament raised $61,000 for the American Cancer Society in 2006, a new record for the company.

Target Specialty Products also adopted a U.S. Army soldier and his platoon this past year through a program called "My Soldier." The program matches corporations and private citizens to men and women serving in the military, encouraging support of U.S. troops through letters, cards, e-mails and care packages. "We learned about the My Soldier program from Chris Donaghy, CEO and owner of Residex, a New Jersey-based distributor, that recently sponsored a soldier," Records said. Target employees in Arizona, California and Oregon raised more than $1,600 in donations for the troops, purchasing military calling cards, DVDs, sunscreen and dry goods for the platoon, which is serving in Afghanistan.

These are just two examples of the sort of outreach programs supported by Target Specialty Products that are making a positive difference in people’s lives, a practice that is repeated every day by numerous suppliers serving the pest management industry, as well as hundreds of pest management companies throughout the United States and the world.

Why are you in business? It’s not an easy question to answer, but it’s an important one to thoughtfully consider, for how you respond to it — and your subsequent actions — ultimately will determine your legacy.

The author is Publisher of PCT magazine.

January 2007
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