KAILUA, Hawaii – In 2019, Ashley Ortogero, general manager of Kilauea Pest Control, Kailua, Hawaii, attended NPMA PestWorld in San Diego. While there, she met Allie Allen, executive director, QualityPro, National Pest Management Association.
Ortogero was impressed with the participation and visibility of the Professional Women in Pest Management (PWIPM) at PestWorld, and asked Allen how she could get involved in the Hawaii PWIPM chapter. When informed by Allen that Hawaii did not have a chapter Ortogero responded, “Can I start one?”
Allen provided Ortogero with all the necessary information to launch a chapter and she got started by networking. Ortogero found that other women were interested, and in 2020 the Hawaii PWIPM chapter was officially launched. Due to strict COVID restrictions, 2020 was limited to virtual meetups. She said, “We had to put a bit of a pause on 2020 activities, but in 2021 we started back up again, reaching out to members and contacting vendors – we’ve got an event sponsor (Veseris) – and now we are up to about 60 members.”
Another PWIPM chapter that launched recently was Wisconsin, and Ortogero has been in touch with Breanna Neerland of Kwik Kill Pest Control, Madison, Wis., who launched Wisconsin PWIPM. Neerland has been a great sounding board for Hawaii PWIPM, Ortogero said.
One of Ortogero’s goals was recently achieved when the Hawaii Pest Control Association (HPCA) announced the donation of a booth to the PWIPM Hawaii Chapter for the HPCA Annual Conference. Other goals for Hawaii PWIPM, Ortogero said, are to get women opportunities for advancement within their companies; to help them get a wide range of certifications; and to attract more women to the industry. “So internally it is supporting and elevating PWIPM members, and externally it is attracting talent,” she said.
That Ortogero has taken the initiative to launch and grow Hawaii PWIPM is no surprise to Kilauea Pest Control President John Speed. She has helped grow Kilauea from the only admin in an eight-person company to leading a team of over fifty in just nine short years. During her time at Kilauea, Ortogero has helped develop HR, marketing and best management practices. Within the company, she has been a champion for bringing more women into the industry. In 2021, women represented 38% of Kilauea’s work force and 43% of upper management.
“She's an incredible asset to us,” Speed said. “Like most general managers she serves two roles — general manager of the company and assistant to the owner. And she does both those flawlessly.”