LOS ANGELES – Bird Barrier America headquarters announced that Randy Hobbs will be the new bird control specialist for the Canadian market. Hobbs will focus on bird opportunities exclusively and his role will be to support current customers in Canada and bring focus to new bird project opportunities.
NEW YORK – On May 26, New York City councilman Eric Bottcher, who lives in the city's Chelsea neighborhood and sees the city’s rat problems first-hand, introduced a bill requiring that applicants for some construction permits confirm that they have employed a pest management professional for their projects.
Bottcher told the New York Daily News, “I’ve never seen so many rats in my life. They’re running over our feet. They’re dashing out in front of us as we walk. They’re climbing into trash cans on the corners.”
PCT reached out to several New York City pest management professionals for their rat observations during the past two years.
Timothy Best, technical manager, Terminix, Manhattan, concurred with the councilman that Chelsea is a “hot spot” for rodents now, and that Terminix has been working the neighborhood with a fair amount of regularity. “We saw some significant shifts in rodent behavior during the pandemic that have yet to otherwise ‘normalize,’” he said. “I cannot provide quantified empirical data, but anecdotally speaking from our own service and inspection reports and trending data, complaints of Norway rats have certainly become denser between 8th and 10th Avenues, from as far south as 15th Street up to 29th Street.”
Another PCO who confirmed an explosion in rodent work in Chelsea (and throughout New York City) is Timothy Wong, owner of M&M Environmental Services, Long Island City, New York. “We do tons of rodent work in that area, including rodent exclusion work, burrow treatments. Rodents have been a big issue in New York City the past couple of years and it's been worse during the pandemic.”
One way to gauge New York City’s rodent problems is by comparing year over year complaints registered by the city’s 311 rodent complaint hotline. As reported in the Associated Press, through April, people have called in some 7,400 rat sightings to the hotline, an increase of 6,150 during the same period last year, and up by more than 60% from roughly the first four months of 2019.
While these sightings, as well as pest control company data, do indicate rodents are thriving in the Big Apple even more today than in years past, PCOs said the “city being overrun by rats” narrative should be tempered, noting that increased rodent sighting by the public are related to (1) an uptick in construction projects; and (2) COVID trends, including people spending more time in their homes, gardens and parks, thus noticing rodents more.
MORE CONSTRUCTION. COVID-19 stopped existing construction projects and pushed back start dates of others. As the city came out of strict COVID restrictions, construction picked up again, including in areas like Chelsea.
As Wong noted, “When they're doing construction nine out of ten times there will be always rats on the construction site because you're lifting the dirt and you're disrupting their homes.” In this example, it’s most likely that citizens are not witnessing a new rat population, rather they are now just seeing an existing rat population.
New York City already does addresses rats on construction sites with a regulation requiring that prior to demolition buildings must be inspected and baited by a licensed rodent pest management professional.
While pest professionals say demolition regulation has some impact on rodent populations at the demo sites – and they appreciate the business opportunity – it is hindered by (1) a lack of oversight and (2) builders awarding contracts to pest control firms that provide the lowest bid. “What the city needs to do is stop [awarding] the lowest bidders on city properties,” said Joseph Sheehan, CEO, Colony Pest Management, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Moreover, rodent abatement on the demo site is only part of the problem. What really is needed, they say, is a regulation requiring builders to contract with a pest management professional for a rodent abatement program throughout the entirety of a construction project.
Gil Bloom, president of Standard Pest Management, said the real increase in rat activity at a construction site comes from the “army of laborers” whose temporary work shacks don’t have a sanitation plan. “So the trash builds up around these construction sites. Harborage increases with pipes, cement and beams, and all the all the stuff that it takes to build a building. And the surrounding areas are tangentially affected because garbage trucks can't get through, and things pile up. So, you really have a change in the environment. It's not as simple as putting a hole in the ground and rats pour out. You are changing this micro-environment to be supportive of rodents.”
Wong agreed with this need for rodent abatement throughout construction, adding “You're talking about millions of dollars of development and you're talking about a few thousand dollars for pest control,” he said.
PMPs contacted by PCT said Bottcher’s proposed bill will have a limited impact if it does not go beyond mandating the installation of exterior bait stations on demolition sites.
“The onus of responsibility to manage or otherwise ‘control’ rodents cannot be the sole responsibility of the PMP, and this bill, as it’s written (or at least interpreted by me), may inadvertently imply that,” said Best. “We all know that rodent management takes a collective effort, so the contractor(s) should be aware of their roles and responsibilities as well; for example, maintaining sanitation on the job site (among other tasks). If I was in a position to inform the councilman about this proposed bill, I would perhaps recommend to at least include some additional language via subclause(s) that speaks to known best practices for rodent pest management, and better, more clearly defines roles and responsibilities by party.”
COVID-RELATED IMPACTS. While COVID-era construction is one factor cited in increase rodent sightings, there are several other important ones.
“It’s all things COVID- related,” said Sheehan, “Outdoor dining. The economy. No one paying their bills. No one working. Commercial spaces cutting back on pest control.”
New York City restauranteurs pivoted during the pandemic, creating make-shift outdoor dining areas. “Outside dining is one of the best things that could have happened for rodents in New York City,” said Bloom. “It is it is a nightmare. It is unregulated.”
One example Bloom provided was restaurants adding aesthetically pleasing dirt-walled traffic barriers (e.g., planters). “Rodents are burrowing in the very walls of these outside [structures],” he said.
Also, these outdoor dining areas are constructed with plywood as platforms atop 2 by 4s. “One they are hard to clean and two they provide shelter underneath for rodents,” said M&M’s Wong.
Bloom said there is really no provision to enable cleaning underneath these platforms. “The water flows, the food flows. Sanitation can't come through with the trucks and clean the streets anymore. The garbage restaurants are throwing out, which was bad enough when it was curbside, it's now sandwiched between one wooden village and another. And it's totally horrendous.”
New York PCOs also cited issues related to garbage pick-up as reasons for the rodent explosion in New York City.
COVID-19 threw off regularly scheduled trash pick-up, allowing garbage to pile up. And budget cuts have had an impact. As Best noted, “In a residential neighborhood like Chelsea, the cuts in the sanitation budget meant more garbage (more food) for the rats. There was illegal dumping of refuse and waste on the streets, street corner wastebaskets were billowing with trash, lengthy delays between trash pick-ups; all equating to rats having easier access to these resources.”
Botther’s bill is not the only the only anti-rat efforts being pushed for at New York City Hall. As the Daily News reported, in April, NYC mayor Eric Adams announced the city was expanding a pilot program bringing sealed trash bins to the five boroughs, and in May, Councilman Chi Osse introduced a bill that would mandate annual reports on rat mitigation from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
TRENTON, N.J. – Communication is the cornerstone of every relationship, personal or professional, yet it is one of the top skills we take for granted in refining. Ineffective communication can cost more than just a customer, it has financial, personal and professional implications.
The cost of poor communication causes companies to lose an average of $26,000 per employee but it can also result in lost sales, low employee morale, missed performance goals, project completions, productivity and more.
According to Salesforce research, 86 percent of employees believed that “ineffective communication is the underlying reason for workplace failures.”
With all of these repercussions from poor communication, what can businesses do to improve their communication?
“Learning to recognize that soft skills, such as communication, are just as important as hard skills is the first step to improving your business,” said Phil Cooper, Evolve YT CEO. “Business leaders often forget that as much as we emphasize training for hard skills, soft skills are equally, if not more important, to be sharpening.”
With almost two million bachelor's degree graduates entering the workforce this year, these candidates already come “preloaded” with the technical skills required for their job positions, yet many of them lack the interpersonal skills needed to succeed.
“Effective communication is critical for all aspects of a business,” Cooper said, “from the customer service representative to the CEO, no position should be left out. Learning how to communicate effectively can transform a company.”
Cooper went on to explain that through his experience as a second-generation pest control business owner, he noticed the discrepancies that ineffective communication had on his business and decided to develop a process for correcting it. During this time, he created the What + How = WOW communication process, which quickly took hold of businesses across the country.
“The principles that are taught in Evolve YT’s Exquisite Communications course are from the foundations of the What + How = WOW book,” Cooper said, “with tactics that can easily be implemented to turn miscommunication situations into what we call ‘WOW’ moments.”
Students in the Exquisite Communications course can expect to learn the five steps of “WHAT to Communicate” and the 12 steps of “HOW to Communicate.” By the end of the course, students should be able to effectively communicate with their teammates and clients alike as well as how to address problem resolution with efficient communication.
“By giving your employees proper training on communication and other soft skills, you’ll be able to increase productivity, morale, and engagement while reducing friction,” Cooper said. “Not only will you see the improvement within the walls of your team, but its positive effects will ripple beyond the company to your customers.”
Although spoken communication is important to refine, Cooper also mentioned that nonverbal communication is necessary to understand and identify.
“It's estimated that body language accounts for 93% of the total communication process, leaving only 7% for verbal communication,” he said. “Understanding that body language dramatically influences how the messages we communicate are received by our customers will significantly boost customer satisfaction rates, repeat sales, and ultimately the bottom line.”
Nonverbal communication doesn’t just end with customers, it plays an important role with colleagues. According to a Forbes article by Jon Michail, “nonverbal communication can help you gain a person’s trust, confidence and respect way faster than verbal communication. Nonverbal communication ‘talks’ all the time, even when you are not verbally speaking.”
Whether verbal or nonverbal, understanding and executing effective communication can make a world of difference for your company’s employees and customers.
“By giving your employees the soft skill training they need to succeed, you’ll reap the rewards of increased production, morale, engagement, and gross profit,” Cooper said. “Investing in your employees can only benefit them, as well as your company, for the long haul.”
TAMPA, Fla. – McCall Service announced its second annual Partners in Pest Management Summit (PIPM), an immersive educational experience developed to support industry and business professionals, will be held in September. Formerly the Commercial Pest Management Summit, McCall created this opportunity for attendees to network, discuss the industry trends and critical issues facing all, and to hear from pest experts from across the country. PIPM is held in Tampa, Fla. on Sept. 15, 2022 and will begin with an optional cocktail reception sponsored by PIPM title sponsor Veseris for all attendees Sept. 14, 2022.
PIPM was originally created from the life-long learners within McCall, giving access to Continuing Education credits and invaluable information to not only other pest experts but also business owners wanting to take control of their integrated pest management solutions. Led by Cory Goeltzenleuchter, B.C.E., P.H.E., PIPM will once again welcome Keynote Speaker Dr. Bobby Corrigan, along with other notable industry names, to this one-day summit.
“With the pest industry constantly evolving, being able to offer this type of learning opportunity and bring other pest and business professionals together is incredible,” said Goeltzenleuchter, McCall’s director of technical services and operations support. “I’m looking forward to hearing from our expert lineup and growing alongside other professionals! I hope to see everyone there in September.”