[On the Road] Regulatory Issues, NPMA Relationship Focus of UPFDA Spring Conference

A strong educational program and multiple networking opportunities drive a 10-percent increase in attendance at this year’s event.

With attendance up 10 percent at the United Producers, Formulators & Distributors Association (UPFDA) Spring Conference, and fresh off the news that additional representation on the NPMA Board of Directors has been given the green light by association officials pending final approval by the general membership this fall, the industry’s only trade association devoted solely to manufacturers and distributors of pest control products is experiencing a renewed sense of purpose.

Held for the second consecutive year at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla., the two-day event welcomed representatives of more than 40 companies from across North America, with attendees benefiting from educational sessions devoted to regulatory and legislative affairs and the relationship between PMPs and product suppliers, to the burgeoning relationship between UPFDA and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).

Rick Bell, vice president of government affairs, Arrow Exterminators, kicked off the education program with an update on the pollinator health issue, a subject that has generated extensive coverage in the national media recently. He pointed out that a number of factors impact bee health including parasitic mites, pathogens, beekeeping practices, exposure to pesticides and hive management. “There are a lot of factors that figure into this thing,” he said, and it is industry’s job to make sure any regulatory decisions that could adversely impact the structural pest control industry’s treatment practices are science-based rather than emotion-based.

Bell’s co-presenter during the “National Legislative Watch” educational session was Chris Gorecki, vice president of government relations and environmental stewardship, Rollins Inc. The veteran PMP said while the industry has had some big wins on the regulatory front this past year, it’s no time to rest on our laurels since activists are working at the state and local level to introduce anti-pesticide legislation. “They’ve got an agenda and the agenda is to get rid of pesticides,” he said. “Period!”

Gorecki noted three states where regulatory activity has been particularly intense this past year:

  • In Massachusetts, there is an ongoing struggle between the state, industry and the New England Pest Management Association concerning proposed rule changes that could prove detrimental to PMPs. The proposed changes would require every company to “maintain a Product Application Guidance Sheet” for each limited use and restricted use pesticide registered in the state, as well as “maintain a daily vehicle inventory log of all restricted use pesticides and state limited use pesticides,” Gorecki said, a paperwork nightmare for PMPs if it passes. Also being considered are changes in the standards for supervision of non-certified applicators, specifically that “a certified applicator may supervise not more than 20 non-certified applicators.”
  • In New York, Gorecki said the industry missed an opportunity to turn back the clock on the sea of paperwork that is impacting every pest control business when it failed to fully support the governor’s budget proposal which called for eliminating reporting of commercial pesticide applications and dramatically scaling back the amount of data that is made available to the public. Under pressure from activists and various special interest groups, “both the senate and assembly’s budget proposals rejected the governor’s proposed changes,” he said. The industry could have done more to support this initiative, according to Gorecki, which would have lightened the regulatory burden on PMPs, while modestly increasing the regulatory requirements on distribution. Gorecki said he wasn’t at the UPFDA meeting “to throw stones” but the industry could have done a better job of communicating with one another on this important issue, working with the distributor community to support the governor’s proposal. “It was an opportunity of a lifetime that was missed,” he observed.
  • In Georgia, there have been a number of positive developments, including removal of all requirements for ventilation standards for subterranean termite treatments and changes to state language on ventilation to the Residential Building Code. In addition, Georgia has joined 43 other states in accepting electronic reporting, another step forward for the industry.
  • At the federal level, Gorecki updated attendees on the status of Clean Water Act as it relates to the pest management industry and the impact of pyrethroid label changes on environmental hazard statements and directions for use.
     

“All outdoor applications (except fogging) are now limited to spot or crack and crevice treatment,” Gorecki observed. “Exceptions include applications to soil or vegetation around a structure, to lawns, turf and vegetation, and to building foundations up to 3 feet high.” There are also some exceptions for overwintering pests.

One of the industry’s big wins this past year related to protecting the industry’s uses of sulfuryl fluoride, a popular fumigant used to control a variety of pests. The industry backed an amendment to the Farm Bill that directed the administrator of the EPA to exclude non-pesticidal sources of fluoride from aggregate exposure assessments required under section 408 of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) when assessing tolerances associated with residues from the pesticide.

“It was a huge win,” Gorecki said. “Everyone was engaged and moving in the right direction and we had a great outcome.”

In concluding his remarks, Gorecki predicted the industry’s next great battle will involve the topic of IPM. “Everyone has their own definition,” he said, “which is kind of scary. My concern is I think they’re (activists) gaining ground on us,” particularly at the local level. “They’re organized. They’re coordinated. They’re nimble.”

As a result, Gorecki says the industry has to do a better job of “promoting what we do. We’re not doing a good enough job of getting the message out. We’re getting painted with a broad brush.”
 

NPMA and UPFDA.

In a second well-received session, Bob Rosenberg, NPMA executive vice president, and Alexis Wirtz, director, meetings and exhibits, NPMA, updated attendees on the burgeoning relationship between the two trade groups.

Before beginning his presentation, Rosenberg recognized UPFDA Executive Director Valera Jessee’s impending retirement from the Georgia Pest Control Association, acknowledging “how much she has done for the industry. I am so happy she is staying with UPFDA,” he said.

Rosenberg said the NPMA, under his leadership, is an association that “values integrity and openness,” citing the NPMA’s five core values moving forward: (1) right-sizing the association; (2) sound governance; (3) strategic partnering; (4) enhanced member benefits and services; and (5) outreach to underserved communities, including the industry’s product suppliers.

In strengthening the association’s relationship with UPFDA, Rosenberg said “nobody has done more than Alexis (Wirtz),” who has been working with the trade group on a number of initiatives including:

  • Improved coordination with UPFDA
  • Greater supplier involvement on NPMA committees
  • A dedicated portal for suppliers on the NPMA website
  • Evaluation of sponsorship opportunities and marketing packages
     

“A lot has been accomplished this past year,” Wirtz observed, pointing out the NPMA Board of Directors recently approved additional supplier representation on the NPMA Board at Legislative Day this year. In all, three supplier-oriented positions have been added, pending approval by the NPMA membership this fall. They include:

  • A chemical manufacturer, who shall serve a two-year term and be selected by the NPMA Nominating Committee and ratified by the NPMA Board of Directors.
  • A chemical or equipment distributor, who shall serve a two-year term and be selected by UPFDA and ratified by the NPMA Board of Directors.
  • A representative of an allied member in a business other than chemical manufacturing or chemical or equipment distribution, who shall serve a two-year term and be selected by the NPMA Nominating Committee and ratified by the NPMA Board of Directors.
     

“We welcome your (enhanced) involvement,” Wirtz said. “The relationship we have with you is as important as anything we do,” Rosenberg added. “We know that.”

Wirtz also pointed out that steps have been taken to enhance the NPMA’s regional meetings, making them more supplier friendly, including the addition of new locations and day patterns, increased visibility for exhibitors, and food and social function improvements.

In addition, increased exhibit hall hours have been added to NPMA PestWorld, a “Suppliers’ Connection Lounge” has been created and a “Black Friday” promotion designed to drive exhibit hall traffic on the final day of the show is once again scheduled for this year’s conference.
 

PMPs’ Perspective.

In a session titled, “What Do PCOs Want from Suppliers?” Jeff Annis and Dena Thomas of Advanced Services, Augusta, Ga., shared their thoughts on the PCO/Supplier relationship.

The two PCOs, who lead the popular Discovery Retreat program, said in order to attract and maintain a pest management professional’s business, suppliers must do four things. Suppliers need to “get to know me and what we do (as a business),” Annis observed. “All PMPs are different, so take the time to get to know us.” Second, “keep an eye on important label changes.” Third, “don’t over-supply and over-sell me.” And finally, have your customers’ back.

“PMPs need to know you have their best interest at heart,” Thomas said.

Other key factors in developing a healthy PMP/supplier relationship include ready access to training, troubleshooting problem situations, regular updates about new product offerings, attractive pricing, accurate billing and promptly fixing things that inevitably go wrong.

“We all know there are going to be issues, there are going to be complications in the (business) relationship,” Thomas observed. “That’s just the way it is.” The key is to address any problems proactively and to do everything you can do to satisfy the customer. “If you’ve never gotten a customer complaint, you probably aren’t seeing enough customers,” she warned.

Finally, Annis said PMPs are looking for manufacturers to be the industry’s “regulatory warriors. We look to manufacturers to be the knight in shining armor,” representing the industry’s interests on a national level in Washington, D.C.

In other news from the UPFDA Spring Conference:

  • The Board of Directors voted to continue its financial support of ASPCRO, donating $500 to the organization.
  • A new UPFDA promotional flier and nomination form has been created by the PCT Media Group. The flier highlights the key features and benefits of the association.
  • Bonnie Rabe, representing the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO), updated UPFDA members on “What’s Happening in the States and EPA.”
  • Representatives of Bayer, Rockwell Labs Ltd, Central Life Sciences, Natural Misting, UPI, BASF and J.T. Eaton shared their latest product news during the “Suppliers Forum” portion of the conference.
  • The Board approved two new members: Mattress Safe, Cumming, Ga., and ADAPCO, Sanford, Fla. Membership Director Donna Giacalone reported 10 to 12 additional companies have expressed an interest in joining UPFDA. “There definitely is growing interest in the organization,” she said.
  • The Summer Board Meeting is scheduled for Aug. 7 at the Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway Hotel. It is open to all UPFDA members.
     

The next general membership meeting of UPFDA is planned for Oct. 24 at NPMA PestWorld in Orlando, Fla. The site for next year’s spring conference is still under consideration. For meeting updates or additional information about UPFDA, visit the association’s website at www.upfda.com.

 


The author is publisher of PCT magazine.

June 2014
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