Against a backdrop of critical March 15 presidential primaries, NPMA Legislative Day attendees met with Congressional representatives to raise awareness of three issues impacting them: the Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed overtime rules; NPDES permits; and the role the industry plays combating Zika virus.
This year’s Legislative Day, lead-sponsored by FMC, was unique because of the circumstances surrounding it. On March 15, five states held both Republican and Democratic primary elections with several hundred delegates up for grabs. Florida and Ohio were considered the two big prizes of the night, as each state awarded all of its delegates to the statewide winner. If Republican frontrunner Donald Trump had captured both Ohio and Florida, he would have secured the approximately 60 percent of delegates needed to officially be the nominee. (As it turned out, Ohio Gov. John Kasich won Ohio, while Trump took Florida, meaning that at press time Trump needs to win roughly 60 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch it.)
PROPOSED OT RULE CHANGES. Why is the presidential election important to PCOs? Take, for example, the centerpiece issue of Legislative Day: The pest control industry’s opposition to the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime rule. The proposed rule would raise the minimum threshold to approximately $50,440 annually ($970 per week) in 2016. The final rule is anticipated to be released in summer 2016. With that timing occurring just before President Obama leaves office, it is an issue that has the potential to become highly politicized.
As background, in summer 2015, DOL proposed new overtime (OT) regulations in response to a 2014 directive by Obama to update OT rules under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). FLSA guarantees overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half the employee’s regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek. The current FLSA has a salary threshold of $23,660 annually ($455 per week), meaning ANY employee making less is eligible for overtime. Employees making more than the $23,660 annual threshold are eligible for overtime unless they fall under a specific industry exemption (teachers, doctors, lawyers) or the “white collar exemption,” which includes executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and computer employees.
The DOL proposed rule would raise the minimum threshold to approximately $50,440 annually ($970 per week) in 2016. This new proposed level is equal to the 40th percentile of weekly earnings for full-time salaried workers. The threshold will be indexed to maintain the salary threshold at the 40th percentile. The DOL estimated that approximately 4.6 million employees that are currently exempt based on the $23,660 threshold, will become eligible for overtime under the $50,440 threshold. The rule does not propose changes to the current exemptions, including the “white collar exemption,” and the duties test used to determine the “white collar exemptions.”
The rule does invite comment on these exemptions specifically, which raises concerns that the exemptions could be changed in the final rule. In September 2015 the public comment period for the DOL proposed rule closed, despite requests to extend the comment period.
NPMA’s position on this proposed rule is that while the pest management industry acknowledges the importance of implementing proper compensation mechanisms to protect employees, the proposed rule will result in pest management companies having to convert from a salary-based model to an hourly model out of necessity. This conversion inhibits employee job flexibility, earning opportunities, career growth and lowers morale, NPMA says.
(Update: On March 17, just two days after Legislative Day, Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Representatives Tim Walberg (R-MI) and John Kline (R-MN) introduced the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act, which requires the U.S. Department of Labor to conduct a comprehensive economic analysis on the impact of mandatory overtime expansion to small businesses, nonprofits and public employers before issuing any final rule.)
NPDES PERMITS. Legislative Day attendees also encouraged members of Congress to revisit the newly finalized Clean Water Act (CWA). The original CWA, enacted in 1972, gives EPA the authority to regulate all of the waters of the U.S. (WOTUS), historically defined as “navigable” waters, including interstate waters and territorial seas. On May 27, 2015, EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized the Clean Water Rule, which expanded the definition “waters of the U.S.” to include “tributaries and waters that significantly affect the chemical, physical or biological integrity of the aforementioned traditional navigable waters.”
The expanded WOTUS definition is not expected to have a significant impact on those who perform structural pest management; however, included in the final rule is language that would maintain the current status quo concerning the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). NPDES is a national permit program that regulates the point source discharge of pollutants and chemicals into waters of the U.S. EPA has delegated NPDES authority to the states; currently 46 of the 50 states regulate NPDES permits independent of EPA. NPMA’s position is that NPDES permits are unnecessary, redundant and a costly burden because pesticides are already reviewed and regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
There are two pieces of legislation NPMA is encouraging its members to support. In the Senate, the Sensible Environmental Protection Act of 2015 (S. 1500) was accepted as an amendment to the Bipartisan Sportsman Act of 2015 (S. 659) which passed the Committee on Environmental and Public Works, and awaits a full Senate vote. In the House, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2015 (h. 897) has been recommended by the Committee on Agriculture for a full House vote.
ZIKA VIRUS INVOLVEMENT. The pest control industry also used its Capitol Hill visits to raise awareness of the role the pest management industry plays in combating the Zika virus. Zika is an emerging mosquito-borne virus that currently has no specific medical treatment or vaccine.
NPMA is encouraging legislative and executive action to highlight the important role the pest management industry plays in preventing exposure to mosquitoes. There are 20,000 pest control companies who collectively employ more than 150,000 service technicians. Many are trained to identify and treat for mosquitoes in residential backyards, subdivisions, commercial properties and other public and private settings.
In addition to Capitol Hill visits, Legislative Day included sessions on pesticide issues (e.g., pesticide re-registration and fumigation updates) and business issues (e.g., labor issues). Attendees also were treated to presentations from Washington pundits. For the Monday luncheon, sponsored by FMC, Paul Begala paired off with former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer to offer perspectives on the 2016 Presidential campaign. Political analyst Nicolle Wallace reviewed why partisanship can be good, in a speech sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, and political commentator SE Cupp gave her thoughts on the presidential race, in a session sponsored by Control Solutions Inc. MGK hosted the “Headquarters on the Hill” luncheon event at the Rayburn House Office Building, a congressional office building for the U.S. House of Representatives.
The author is Internet editor and managing editor of PCT and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Florida Panthers fans, in an effort to maintain the team’s good fortunes throughout the NHL playoffs, brought back an old tradition: throwing rats onto the ice.
In a March 31 game between the Panthers and New Jersey Devils, Panthers fans threw toy rats onto the ice during the second period (the toy rats were distributed to all fans as part of a promotion).
As ESPN reported, in the 1995-96 season, player Scott Mellanby famously dispatched a rat that had the temerity to try to traverse the Panthers locker room before a game. He scored twice that night, and Mellanby’s feat was described by netminder John Vanbiesbrouck as a “rat trick.” By the time the playoffs rolled around, thousands of plastic and rubber rats were finding their way onto the ice in celebration of the upstart franchise. The Panthers advanced to the Stanley Cup finals that spring before being swept by the Colorado Avalanche.
Since that finals appearance the Panthers have struggled with losing seasons and dwindling attendance. This season, however, the Panthers turned things around, capturing the Atlantic Division. When the winning returned, so did the rat-throwing. (Update: The team’s winning ways ended in the playoffs; the Panthers lost to the New York Islanders in six games.)
Throwing objects onto the ice is not a new NHL phenomenon. Fans in Detroit, for example, are known to throw octopi onto the ice at Detroit Red Wings games. According to website http://redwings.nhl.com, the octopus first made its appearance on April 15, 1952, during the Red Wings’ Stanley Cup playoff run. Two Detroit brothers, Pete and Jerry Cusimano — storeowners in Detroit’s Eastern Market — threw the eight-legged cephalopod on the ice at Olympia Stadium. Each tentacle of the octopus was symbolic of a win in the playoffs. Back then, the NHL boasted only six teams, and eight wins (two best-of-seven series) were needed to win the Stanley Cup. The Red Wings swept the series that year, and the octopus has come to be the good luck charm ever since.
The tradition carried over to Joe Louis Arena on opening night in 1979 when several found their way onto the ice. During the 1995 playoffs, Bob Dubisky and Larry Shotwell, co-workers at a meat and seafood retail company near Detroit, tossed a 38-pound octopus onto the ice during the National Anthem prior to Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
Terminix Survey: Household Pests Scarier Than Zombies
Ninety-three percent of Americans are afraid of pests, with many experiencing nightmares about them, according to a new survey from Terminix. Though dangerous encounters with spiders, cockroaches and mice seem far-fetched, the threat is more real than many think. For example, nearly six in 10 homeowners (59 percent) admit they’re cohabitating with one or more pests right now. Terminix partnered with Kelton Global to survey more than 1,000 homeowners ages 18 and older to expose their biggest fears about pests. The results revealed homeowners are not only terrified of pests, but also are unprepared to deal with them. In fact, 21 percent of millennials say they’ve considered moving just because they spotted a pest.
Other key findings from this survey include:
Critter infestations trump common fears: For many, a pest invasion is scarier than public speaking (32 percent), global warming (26 percent) or a celebrity/reality star running for president (25 percent).
A single pest can be a relationship deal-breaker: One-quarter of female homeowners said they would stop dating someone whose home had even one cockroach — with three percent reporting they’ve actually called it quits after seeing a critter. To put this in perspective, fewer would consider conflicting political views (17 percent), terrible style (13 percent) or lack of a college degree (7 percent) worthy of a breakup.
The worst of the worst: Scorpions are the pests homeowners fear most (65 percent), followed by rats (55 percent), bed bugs (54 percent), bees/wasps (51 percent) and spiders (49 percent).
Despite these fears, the survey shows homeowners aren’t leveraging the most effective methods to eliminate or prevent pest infestations (a PMP). For example, close to a quarter (22 percent) admit their go-to weapon to fight pests is a shoe.
Communication Tips for Fast Issue Resolution and Satisfied Clients
When dealing with many pest issues, gaining customer cooperation is crucial for resolution. Getting them to understand what role they play and getting their buy-in is vitally important to resolving many issues. However, not everyone takes the time to think about what they are telling their clients before they open their mouths or hit submit on their reports. Ultimately, knowing how to ask for cooperation is what is going to make or break the communication needed for success.
One of the rising issues we have as an industry is the client’s level of maintenance. This includes maintaining their equipment, general cleaning and storage habits, among others. One way to set the stage for good client and PMP cooperation is ensuring you state the issue clearly with minimal subjectivity and lots of detail. For example, if a restaurant has a sanitation deficiency, don’t tell them, “You have a small fly problem because you have poor sanitation.” Approach it differently by stating, “Your food debris and water build-up are contributing to the small fly issue.”
The first statement regarding the sanitation issue is blunt and implies fault, which may make them defensive and less cooperative. Most owners and managers have pride in their business, and do not want to be told that they are doing a bad job. Using the second statement that pinpoints the root cause of the sanitation issue without using accusatory language will generally encourage better cooperation and faster resolution. Think about how your significant other would respond if he or she were told there was a dirty kitchen and he or she caused the pest issue. It may be true, but the sting from the words does not help the situation.
When talking to clients, make sure they understand their role and its importance in the resolution. If they expect that you do everything and they don’t have to participate (“pest management is the PMP’s problem”), then they are taking a passive approach. In some cases, they may not understand that being passive can actually make a bad situation worse.
If they are passive, explain to them that it will take longer to resolve their issue. Outline a reasonable time frame for resolution, why it will take that long and if there is anything they can do to accelerate the resolution process. Managing the client’s expectations has to be a part of the conversation.
PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATIONS. Even if you have a great relationship with your client, remember to keep all communication professional. Clients with whom you have a positive, chatty relationship may be the easiest to work with, but you still have to be mindful of what you are telling them. Do not make the mistake that these people are your friends — it’s still business. When problems occur, even your most friendly client may proverbially “throw you to the wolves” if questioned or confronted about a pest situation, particularly if it means negative consequences for them.
Always follow the direction from the most senior person working for the business, whether it’s the manager, a corporate stakeholder or both. This is particularly important for third-party-audited facilities. If the corporate entity wants you to write up every little thing, make sure you follow those directions. It may cause some pain with your local contact who may not want full disclosure of challenges in the facility, but politely explain to them the direction you have been given and suggest they approach the decision maker to request any changes.
The old adage, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it,” comes into play daily for PMPs. In many cases, it is tempting to become frustrated with lack of client cooperation, and sometimes even lash out in defense. Even if you feel justified in your communication, resist the urge to react, stop and think about the best phrasing to get better results, and then speak. Taking these simple steps could make a world of difference in your client relationships, improve the results of your service and lead to better client cooperation.
David Moore is a board certified entomologist and received his master’s degree in entomology from Virginia Tech specializing in urban entomology. He serves as the manager of technical services for Dodson Bros. Exterminating.
Copesan is an alliance of pest management companies with locations throughout North America. To learn more, visit www.copesan.com.
As a pest control company, you provide tremendous value to the people, communities and businesses you serve. Understanding and being able to express the value of what you do, our industry and the services you provide is key to growing a successful business and becoming a respected member of the community.
The pest control firms featured in this issue are examples of companies who are doing it right. Congratulations to all! The majority of these PCT Top 100 companies started as small, family businesses and have grown into trusted pillars of their communities. If you’ve made the decision that you want to grow, these folks are exemplars of what to do to achieve your goals.
REPOSITIONING THE INDUSTRY. At times, consumers can be quick to assume that pest problems are easily controlled with do-it-yourself measures or that they could do the job just as well if they only had the wherewithal to handle the pests themselves. Unfortunately, this mindset may skew their opinions of the pest control industry, specifically their need for professional help or advice regarding an infestation. The truth is that pest professionals have extensive training and knowledge with regard to pest biology, behaviors and can provide the most effective methods of control.
While this knowledge is vital, consumers have varied tolerance levels for pest problems. Some homeowners will call in a professional at the first sight of an ant, while others wait until an infestation has become more severe. Because of this, your audience has a range of views on the need for hiring a professional, and it is important to continually educate them through positive interactions and messaging that speaks to their concerns. Promote messages that show the value of the services you provide.
The biggest value message is the role you play in protecting public health and property. The industry has made significant advancements to reduce pest threats. In fact, public health officials attribute the quality of life we have today to three things: better pharmaceuticals and vaccines, better sanitation, and better pest control. Historically, pests are known to carry and transmit many dangerous diseases, as well as destroy food meant for human consumption. To combat this, we now provide more targeted and innovative solutions in both consumer and commercial applications. At the forefront is the adaptation of IPM, developing customized plans to eliminate sources of food, water and shelter to remove breeding grounds and areas of attraction and the judicious use of EPA-approved products to solve problems.
Communicating messages that showcase the widespread knowledge and continuous advancement of the industry is essential to the consumer education component of your company’s success. This is something that every company faces and needs to tackle. But, don’t feel alone. While you have a voice in your community, you are joined by companies around the country, as well as the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA), which for 19 years has served as a unified voice for the industry.
SHOW YOUR WORTH. While performing the day-to-day activities associated with pest problems, pest professionals often forget they have an incredible story to tell and may miss the chance to showcase the value they provide customers. Don’t squander this opportunity!
Understanding your importance can help you feel empowered and encouraged to use your voice to share messages of industry value — how we protect public health, food and property from the diseases and dangers of pests. Working to build a community of trust is often a top priority. This will take your company closer to reaching your goals of growth and success.
There are three overarching messages that speak to the value we provide:
Pest control is a contributing factor to the quality of life we have today.
Pests can be dangerous if not managed correctly.
Pest professionals are protectors of public health, food and property.
Sharing these messages often means connecting with customers on multiple levels. The more you can interact with consumers, the more likely they are to understand the importance of working with you. Consumer education can be addressed in multiple ways. Some say that company branding, face-to-face interactions and word of mouth marketing are the most successful tactics. However, it’s also important to have a strong online and social media presence — whether it’s a blog, website or company Facebook account, and that your sales collateral reflects these value messages as well.
Now is the time for the industry as a whole to embrace consumer education. For the past 19 years, PPMA has been leading the charge for pest control companies to express their value and worth, and the more companies communicate these core messages to their communities, the louder and clearer our collective voice becomes.
Whether you’re a part of the Top 100 or are aspiring to grow your business, you have a strong, meaningful voice in the industry and it is essential that you share messages of positivity, credibility and value. And, knowing that you have a partner in PPMA — and other companies who are sharing the same messaging — you can feel empowered to share your story.
Mannes is executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance/vice president of public affairs for NPMA. Visit www.npmapestworld.org/ppma.
Xcluder has two new products: Xcluder Pest Control Astragal Door Seals and Xcluder Pest Control Block Caps. Xcluder’s Astragal Door Seals are designed to protect entry doors, sealing the gap between double doors or between a single door and its frame. Xcluder’s Pest Control Block Caps prevent rodents traveling and nesting within hollow block walls.
Xcluder Pest Control Astragal Door Seals protect the tiny gap between pairs of entry doors with a sturdy, 96-inch retainer and reinforced EPDM rubber gasket lined with Xcluder fill fabric — a patented combination of stainless steel and poly-fiber that is virtually impenetrable to rodents and other pests, the firm says. The retainer, available in aluminum or bronze and a choice of adhesive or hardware application, can be trimmed to accommodate handles, locks and shorter doors. The Xcluder-lined rubber gasket is available in black or grey and creates a durable weatherseal, Xcluder adds. Also available are new Glass Door Threshold Astragal Gap Seals, designed for double-swing doors where there is a gap at the threshold. These 6-inch seals are attached using a weather resistant, pressure attached adhesive strip and feature a heavy-duty reinforced EPDM rubber gasket and Xcluder core.
Xcluder Pest Control Block Caps help prevent rodents from living in cinderblock walls by covering their entry point. Ideal for new and existing construction, each 6- by 8-inch tin-plated steel cap features a stamped inset and overlapping design for quick and easy placement. Installation is simple, the firm says: four drops of landscape adhesive and no tools are required. Using two caps per block, the caps protect both the holes within each block and the opening created where two blocks meet. The caps will not rust and provide energy conservation benefits that match or exceed other cinderblock wall cappings, the manufacturer says.
Until June 30, PMPs who buy one 24-count box of any size Green Drain floor drain trap seal will receive a $48 per box ($2 per unit) rebate direct from the manufacturer. The rebate is paid at the end of the program. Submit invoice copies for rebate payment to: CCJ/LLC Green Drain Products, Spring Rebate, P.O. Box 342, Farmington, NM 87499.
Syngenta Professional Pest Management announced Altriset termiticide is now labeled for control of drywood termites, in addition to eastern subterranean and Formosan termites. With this label addition, Altriset can help offer more complete termite control for PMPs and their businesses, the firm says.
To provide pest management professionals with greater flexibility in controlling termite infestations, the updated label also includes an expanded application rate range option to increase the amount of active ingredient per finished gallon of solution, from 0.05 percent to 0.1 percent. Upon application, Altriset paralyzes the mouthparts of termites within hours of exposure, stopping further damage immediately. In addition, its unique mode of action increases termites’ aggregation and grooming behavior, which allows affected termites to expose other colony members to the termiticide.
To control drywood termites, Altriset can be applied as a foam treatment to penetrate difficult-to-reach areas, such as inside wall voids and structural beams. In a study conducted by the University of California, Altriset achieved 100 percent control of Incisitermes minor drywood termites within one month of application, Syngenta reports.
Bird Barrier America has released its 2016 Bird Control Catalog, which is replete with new products to make bird control installations faster and easier, the firm says. Some of the newly introduced products include: net magnets, black net rings, BirdSlide end caps and seam connectors, Bird-Shock cellular monitor, extension poles, Sparrow Trap Door pole mounting, and Trap Door Repeater.
Gotcha Sprayer Pro has unveiled a new Connector, which attaches to any standard threaded extension pole. The original connector fit on some poles, but not all of them, the firm says. 4Most Innovations designed a new Connector that not only fits any standard pole, but also includes a new attachable String Strap for easy storage. In addition, the Gotcha Sprayer Pro can now trigger the Gotcha Spray Bottle, a 16-ounce aluminum bottle can used and reused from the end of an extension pole.