83rd Purdue Pest Management Conference Stresses Important Role of Service Professionals

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February 6, 2019

FMC’s Arnold Ramsey, right, presented with Dini Miller, center, and Mark Sheperdigian, left.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — An important goal of the annual Purdue Pest Management Conference is to provide attendees with information they need to help move the pest control industry forward. This year’s conference, held in January at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., was highlighted by industry experts who presented on a variety of cutting-edge pest management topics.

Kicking off the program was a Pi Chi Omega-sponsored session titled “The Avengers,” which examined the important role technicians play in safely applying products and protecting health, property and food. For this session, Arnold Ramsey, FMC; Dini Miller, Virginia Tech University; and Mark “Shep” Sheperdigian, Rose Pest Solutions, played the roles of Sgt. Safety (Ramsey), Habit Hero (Miller) and Mr. Perfect Practices (Sheperdigian).

Ramsey, a U.S. Marine, discussed common safety mistakes service technicians make and how to avoid them. Some of the hazards he reviewed included:

  • Insect stings and allergens — Ramsey noted that 2 million Americans are allergic to insect stings and that allergens can be found in certain foods, plants, pollen, microorganisms, medicine, etc.
  • Attics — Ramsey said attics present PMP threats ranging from broken or damaged ladders to protruding nails in plywood.
  • Crawlspaces — these threats can include structural issues and wildlife pests, as well as the possibility of contaminated soil.
  • Driving hazards — these include distractions caused by cell phones, something Ramsey says has challenged him. He said he broke the bad habit of talking while driving by keeping his phone in the back seat of his car.

Miller said she would like to see the industry transition away from the term/concept of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which was developed for agricultural pesticide applications. Instead, she encouraged PMPs to practice what she calls Assessment-Based Pest Management (APM), which involves a thorough investigation and the development of a customized pest control plan. Miller said that the pest control industry needs to improve its professional image and service technicians are the best ones to do so. Miller provided a number of examples of little, but significant actions service technicians can take. For example, pest control firms should encourage residents to be on-site whenever possible, so technicians can ask questions, explain their intended actions and answer questions/concerns. “Talk to them before the first treatment. Ask them questions. Let them know how you think. Let them know you are on the same team,” she said.

Sheperdigian kicked off his presentation by reviewing how mice once interrupted the New York Stock Exchange by chewing on and shorting out computer wiring. In another example, Sheperdigian said too many citizens get stung trying to remove nests themselves instead of calling on a licensed PMP who wears a protective bee suit and understands the proper way to remove nests.

Another highlight was a rodent tract presented by Claudia Riegel of the New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board (NOMTRCB) and industry consultant Dr. Bobby Corrigan. Riegel reviewed how NOMTRCB is using video and other electronics to measure rodent populations. She said it’s an exciting time for PMPs doing rodent work because they can use a mix of old and new technology and products. For example, she said NOMTRCB reviews video footage of rodent activity to observe how rodents approach traps and choose which baits they prefer; PMPs then adapt their strategies accordingly. She also showed how this technology can help with client “buy in.”

For example, NOMTRCB was able to get a client to seal off an open pipe after Riegel showed the client video of a rat emerging from the open pipe. Corrigan built off Riegel’s presentation, noting that with the advent of video and electronic rodent monitoring, “We are learning that we have woefully underestimated the complexity of rodent infestations, colonies and populations.” He encourages PMPs to use this equipment, record results and rethink their rodent control strategies, particularly when it comes to rodent bait station placement. As effective as this technology is, however, Corrigan said these are tools, and there is no substitute for smart, well-trained service professionals who will get on their hands and knees and crawl in tight spaces.

This year’s conference also featured presentations on termites, bed bugs, cockroaches, ants, flies, wildlife pests, mosquitoes and more, as well as an exhibit hall filled with the latest product innovations from industry suppliers. Another highlight of this year’s show was tours of Purdue’s entomology labs, in which attendees got to see first-hand some of the work being performed by Purdue students and researchers. — Brad Harbison

Dr. Gary Bennett Recognized at Purdue Conference

Bennett

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — One of the highlights of the opening ceremonies at this year’s annual Purdue Pest Management Conference was the recognition of Dr. Gary Bennett for having led the conference the last 50 years.

As professor and director of the Center for Urban and Industrial Pest Management at Purdue University, Bennett has been the longtime organizer of the conference, which is one of the premier educational events in the pest control industry.

In addition to leading the conference, Bennett has taught numerous courses in urban entomology and led research programs on the biology, behavior and management of bed bugs, cockroaches, ants, rodents, termites and more.

Industry consultant Dr. Bobby Corrigan, a Purdue graduate, reviewed many of Bennett’s contributions, including his research into the science behind pest management. “If we look at the breadth of knowledge and the reach he has had over the years, we realize that many of the things you are doing as pest management professionals, many of the products you are using, and the technology you are using, can be traced back to Gary Bennett.”

Bennett also has trained and mentored subsequent generations of entomologists who have carried his research forward, including 44 graduate students.

A native of Lake Charles, La., Bennett’s family owned and operated a pest control business and he worked summers for the family company. One of his career highlights was the discovery of Formosan termites in and around the Lake Charles port (the first identified infestation of this species in the U.S.), and being visited by Purdue’s Dr. John Osmun who came to collect some of this new invasive species.

Bennett earned two degrees from LSU (where he was involved in surveying New Orleans for Formosan termites, which were found to be widely scattered along the Mississippi River port area). He then moved with his wife, Milta, to Raleigh, N.C., to study urban entomology at North Carolina State with Drs. Charles Wright and Harry Moore (a Purdue graduate). He received his Ph.D. in 1970 and moved to Indiana, where he and Milta started their family (which includes daughter Nikki and son Chris) and where he joined the faculty at Purdue.

In reflecting on his time leading the Purdue Pest Management Conference, Bennett recalled that his first day on the job after accepting the Purdue position in 1970 was attending the Purdue conference as an observer. “I remember thinking this was a pretty darn good meeting, and I am happy to be here, and happy to be a part of the team that will put on programs that have, hopefully, been beneficial to you guys.” — Brad Harbison


Judy Black Joins Rollins

Black

ATLANTA — Rollins Inc. announced that Judy Black has joined the company as vice president of quality assurance and technical service.

With more than 32 years of industry experience, Black ’s knowledge, leadership ability and research-based approach of identifying and developing service and training programs will help strengthen and advance Rollins’ technical and quality assurance goals, the company says.

Prior to joining Rollins, Black had been vice president of technical services for Rentokil North America since 2015 and for The Steritech Group from 2005 to 2015. While at these companies, she managed the technical services and education training groups and supported quality assurance initiatives. Rollins said her international experience will help Rollins as the company continues its global expansion.

A well-known and respected member of the pest control industry, Black received the National Pest Management Association Women of Excellence Award in 2012 and the PCT/Syngenta Crown Leadership Award in 2011.

Black received a bachelor of science degree in agriculture (emphasis on environmental protection) and a master of science degree in entomology from West Virginia University. She is also a NEHA Certified Professional – Food Safety.


Plague Confirmed in Third Wyoming Cat

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Laboratory testing at the University of Wyoming recently confirmed a Johnson County cat was infected with plague, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH). The illness was confirmed by the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory in Laramie. No human cases have been identified.

This is the third plague-infected cat identified in Wyoming over the past six months; the others were in Sheridan and Campbell counties. Only six human cases of plague have been exposed in Wyoming since 1978 with the last one investigated in 2008. There is an average of seven human plague cases each year in the United States.

“Plague is a serious bacterial infection that can be deadly for pets and people if not treated as soon as possible with antibiotics,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH. “The disease can be passed to humans from ill animals and by fleas coming from infected animals. We are letting people know of the potential threat in the cat’s home area as well as across the state.

“While the disease is rare in humans, plague occurs naturally in the western United States in areas where rodents and their fleas become infected,” Harrist said.

Plague symptoms in humans can include fever, swollen and tender lymph glands, extreme exhaustion, headache, chills, coughing, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. People who are ill should seek professional medical attention.

Information about plague is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/plague/.


United Phosphorus Inc. (UPI) Announces Name Change

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. — The North American operation of United Phosphorus Inc. changed its name to UPL NA Inc. effective Jan. 1, 2019.

“The new UPL brand name for the North America business more accurately reflects the global corporate identity,” said Manish Sirohi, director, strategy and innovation. “The change aligns our business with our corporate parent and their subsidiaries around the world.”

UPL globally has a presence in more than 130 countries on six continents. With 33 manufacturing and formulation facilities situated in 11 countries, UPL says it is a leader in the manufacture of high-quality brands used to protect crops and property, including turf.

“Our company mantra is ‘Doing Things Better,’” said Sirohi, “and Doing Things Better is all about raising the bar in global agricultural productivity. UPL has invested heavily in R&D activities that produce innovative solutions, leading to the global launch of more than 100 new products in the past two years.”


Termite Awareness Week Plans Set for March 10-16

FAIRFAX, Va. — The Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA) is asking for the industry to join in with its efforts to educate consumers on the importance of protecting against termites during Termite Awareness Week, March 10-16.

“Every year, we make a concerted, organized effort to drive awareness around the prevalence of termites and the damage they can impose on homes, businesses and other properties by launching various media relations and social media campaigns to bring our messages front and center with consumer audiences,” said Cindy Mannes, executive director of PPMA. “We collected a ton of compelling video and photography with our Tiny Termite House project last year and we’ll be using these assets in new digital campaigns to continue to show just how devastating termite infestations can be.”

In honor of Termite Awareness Week, PPMA will build a new section on www.pestworld.org to host materials from the Tiny Termite House project, taking consumers on a visual journey from termite biology, to infiltrating a home and the devastation left in their wake. PMPs are encouraged to check out pestworld.org in early March for more information and to share or link to the content from their own channels.

“This year, Termite Awareness Week is especially important following the momentum from our Tiny Termite House last spring,” added Mannes. “After we finished the project, we still had an incredible amount of quality footage that could be used to educate the public and show the destructive nature of this pest. We’ve done the heavy lifting of curating the content. Companies that invest in PPMA can take advantage of and share widely on their channels to help amplify our industry’s message and hammer home the need to call a professional for termite control.”

PPMA works to operate year-long, comprehensive marketing and communications programs and is funded solely through voluntary investments from pest control companies, suppliers and other industry leaders to grow, promote, protect and defend the professional pest management industry. In turn, the group gives back to its investors with exclusive access to ready-made marketing materials on PPMAMainframe.org. PPMA encourages investors to log on to access the 2019 Termite Awareness Week toolkit containing press materials, suggested social media posts, and photography that they can share as their own content with local media, customers and make available on their websites and social pages.

For more information about PPMA and all its marketing programs or to subscribe to Mainframe, visit www.npmapestworld.org/ppma.


Website Dedicated to Wood-Boring Beetles Education

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Nisus Corporation announced the launch of a new website, woodboringbeetles.com. This new site will help homeowners and PMPs identify wood-boring beetles, the company said.

According to Nisus, most people are familiar with the threat of carpenter ants and termites, but wood-boring beetles can be just as devastating. The company added that wood-boring beetles rank just behind termites in the amount of damage they do annually.

To make matters even more confusing, four major species of beetles are responsible for most beetle-based structural damage to wood. Unfortunately, wood can be infested with these pests and the homeowner may never know because the hidden larvae cause most of the damage. It can take up to five years for larvae to mature into adult beetles and eat their way to the surface, creating visible exit holes.

Homeowners will find useful information about how to identify beetle damage, what kind of beetle might be infesting their home and options for controlling the problem using a professional pest control expert.


Claude Thomas Retires From B&G Equipment Company

JACKSON, Ga. — Claude Thomas recently announced his retirement from B&G Equipment Company. Thomas came to B&G early in his career and Bill Brehm, the company’s founder, became his mentor. During his decades with B&G, Thomas has worked as sales representative, technical director, marketing director, new product developer and, most recently, the senior technical sales representative for the southeastern U.S.

“My passion for our industry and knowledge of application technology made it easy to carry the B&G brand around the world,” Thomas said.

Thomas added that he plans to continue to use his knowledge and passion for pest control to serve the industry into the future.


Douglas Products Creates Plant Health Division

LIBERTY, Mo. — Douglas Products announced the formation of a new plant health division following the addition of two companies known for innovation in biological plant nutrition and soil health, the company said. Growth Products, based in White Plains, N.Y., joined Douglas Products in October 2018, and AgriEnergy Resources, based in Princeton, Ill., joined in December 2018.

“We are excited to expand our resources and expertise with the addition of two companies, each with more than 30 years of a proven track record for developing innovative solutions aimed at improving soil health and increasing plant productivity,” said Wes Long, CEO of Douglas Products. “The mergers are a major step in our company’s vision to expand its branded specialty chemicals and biological solutions portfolio for the agriculture and turf and ornamental segments.”

Growth Products produces and markets liquid nutrient and biological technologies serving the turf and ornamental, agriculture, arbor care and residential markets, in addition to the citrus market in Florida through its G.P. Solutions division. AgriEnergy Resources specializes in the development and production of microbial and other soil fertility products for horticulture and row crops.

Vince Adams, chief business development officer for Douglas Products, added that the announcement of the new plant health division “addresses an important issue within agriculture and T&O: the demand for proven sustainable biological technologies.”

Growth Products and AgriEnergy Resources will continue to operate from their current headquarter location

Rollins to Acquire Clark Pest Control

ATLANTA — In January, the pest control industry in California was reshaped when Rollins announced it had agreed to acquire Clark Pest Control, a $130 million firm based in Lodi, Calif. Geotech Supply is included in the acquisition and will continue to expand its current operations, the firm said. Rollins expects to close in the first quarter 2019 subject to regulatory approvals.

The acquisition of Clark, which operates in 26 locations serving residents and businesses throughout California and northwestern Nevada, makes Rollins the largest pest control provider in California.

Clark becomes part of the Rollins Specialty Brands division, which is led by Jerry Gahlhoff. Robert Baker — who most recently served as vice president of operations — becomes president of Clark Pest Control, which will continue to operate under the Clark brand. “In our experience, we find that successful brands continue to prosper based on their unique connection with their customers, community and marketplace,” Gahlhoff said.

In addition to Baker, Clark members who will be instrumental in the transition are: Dave Shewmake, vice president; Nicole Kirwan-Keefe, vice president of strategic growth; and leadership members Heather Garcia, Larry Bragg, Matt Beckwith and Darren Van Steenwyk.

Gahlhoff added that Rollins will support Clark in its goal to maintain its independent culture “while also providing resources that will further improve efficiency, employee growth opportunities and expertise, without compromising their great culture.”

A CrOWN JEWEL. While Rollins already had an impressive California presence — with brands that include Orkin, Home-Team, IFC, Crane and Critter Control — the Clark acquisition strengthens Rollins’ position in this all-important market. “They have a great mix of business and service offerings that help round out our footprint in California and Nevada,” said Gahlhoff.

Although California’s economy has had ups and downs in recent years, it is still the largest in the United States, boasting an estimated $2.9 trillion “gross state product” — which is the sum of the market values or prices of all final goods and services produced in an economy — as of 2017. On the residential side, the most expensive and largest housing markets in the U.S. are in California, with some communities boasting average housing prices in the $1 million to $2 million range. Commercial pest control opportunities also abound in California, which boasts everything from science and technology sectors (e.g., Silicon Valley) to agriculture throughout inland areas. These market conditions and opportunities made Clark an even more attractive acquisition target. As industry consultant Kemp Anderson noted, “When you think about this transaction, despite whatever rumors you may hear, it is easy to justify going quite large in an acquisition when you think about the true size and economic opportunity of California. Rollins and Orkin will now have the leg up on all competitors eyeing California both in terms of residential and commercial service.”

AN ERA BEGINS, AN ERA ENDS. While the deal is a new beginning for Rollins, as well as Clark employees, it also marks the end of a remarkable 68-year run in the pest control industry for the Clark family. Despite operating in highly regulated environments, and having to navigate complex family business issues, Clark Pest Control continued to prosper under the current-day leadership of Joe, Terry and Jeff Clark — sons of the late company founder Charlie Clark. The decision for the Clark family to sell was not easy, and it came after they had exhausted their options internally for a family succession plan, said Clark spokesperson Kirwan-Keefe. “They ultimately decided that entrusting the future of Clark Pest Control to a responsible new owner whose primary mission was to maintain the legacy of their family’s brand and culture, and foster its future success, was the right path.”

Charlie Clark, who founded Clark Pest Control in 1950, died in 2018, but Kirwan-Keefe said, “The sale of Clark Pest Control had been in deep negotiations for quite some time prior to Charlie’s passing, and he was very aware, involved and supportive.”

Once the Clark family began examining external succession options, Kirwan-Keefe said they decided Rollins was “the right home for its future because of their commitment and proven track record for protecting and fostering the brand, independent operations and culture of its acquisitions.”

Joe Clark, president of Clark Pest Control, stated in a press release, “The Clark Pest Control family is proud to become a member of the Rollins Inc. team. We are excited for the opportunities this brings for the Clark employees.”

Effective immediately, the Clark family has exited the day-to-day operations of Clark Pest Control, but they will remain engaged with the leadership and Rollins teams through the transition.

The deal does not include Clark Pest Control of Bakersfield, which is an independent operation with five branches in Visalia, Fresno, Bakersfield, Santa Clarita and Lancaster, Calif. The company was advised by LR Tullius Inc. — Brad Harbison