[Technician of the Year Awards] Taking Ownership of His Route

A dedicated IPM practitioner, Robert “Corky” Long handles some of Presto-X’s most challenging commercial accounts.

It’s often been said that “your job is what you make of it.” This might explain, at least in part, why PCT’s 2013 Commercial Technician of the Year, Robert “Corky” Long, Presto-X, Springfield, Mo., is a standout at what he does. You see, Long takes ownership of his route as if he was an owner.

“Running a route is like having a business of your own without having some of the headaches of a business, such as the pain of finances,” he said. “I’m fortunate to be in a situation where I am able to run my route pretty much the way I want to run it.”

Presto-X has recognized that Long’s way of running a route is a winning way. He’s been entrusted with some of the company’s largest — and most challenging accounts — including bakeries and pet food manufacturers.

“Corky has been a dedicated employee for Presto-X for nine years, providing a very high level of quality service and professionalism,” said Sam Fears, manager of Presto-X’s Springfield, Mo., office. “He does a really good job in all aspects of running a commercial route, and has developed outstanding customer relationships.”

What Long’s Customers Say

A sample of the praise that customers have for Corky Long:

“He is always present the day of an audit to make sure his documentation is correct and the traps along with bait stations are clean and in good repair. He always calls the day after an audit to make sure the pest control section went well. If anything is found [which I have only had a couple of minor non-conformances] they are all dealt with quickly and professionally. When it comes to audits the pest control portion is always one of the highest scores.”
— QA Supervisor

“I would like to say what an outstanding job Mr. Long has consistently performed for [the school district]. Not only does he serve us in a professional manner, but a friendly one as well. He is always willing to put forth an effort in helping for any problem that may arise. The service your company provides is superior and very beneficial to our school.”
— School Maintenance/Grounds Director

Former Owner.

That Long brings an ownership perspective to his job is not surprising considering that prior to joining Presto-X he owned and operated a business that manufactured custom mattresses and box springs. The Joplin, Mo., native came into that business through his first wife. After graduating high school in the late 1970s Long worked 10 years for a packaging company before his father-in-law approached him and his then-wife about taking over the mattress-making business. While the venture was successful, it involved long hours and he was looking for a change. After 20 years there, he quit. He would later start-up a new mattress shop after getting remarried in 1996 (to wife Binda) but the business fell victim to a downturn in the economy.

Through his connections at church, Faith Assembly Church, Joplin, Mo., Long became aware of an opening at Presto-X, and the job appealed to him.

“I always had a mechanical background and I’m good at finding deficiencies, and a lot of what pest control is about is finding and fixing deficiencies,” he said. “For example, you might be in a house and the deficiency is a non-tight seal and the solution is that door sweeps are needed.”

This attention to detail is one of the traits that makes Long such a standout technician, said Fears. “Corky routinely helps his clients prepare for third- party audits and has an outstanding record for receiving perfect scores on these audits,” he said.

Long also handles organic facilities where either no pesticides, or very few pesticides, can be used indoors. “I have one account that is 100 percent organic and no pesticides can be used indoors, and other accounts where only certain pesticides can be used, and those are used for knockdown, nothing with a residual,” he says.

In these accounts, Long must have a thorough understanding of products, application procedures and — most importantly — the ability to perform thorough inspections to find any and all possible access points for pests. In fact, Long has a pet food account in which he is paid to come in each week and do a thorough two-hour inspection and fix whatever is necessary to prevent pests, primarily stored product pests, from gaining access. “On top of a normal inspection I am really digging deep into stuff and inspecting,” he said.

In organic facilities where pesticides are used, since these are products with no residual, it takes vigilance to track pest activity on an ongoing basis, and again Long has excelled at this sometimes weary task.

Whether its zero or limited pesticide use in these accounts, they are in good hands with Long, a dedicated IPM practitioner who emphasizes the use of door sweeps, exclusion services, web removal and vegetation management.

Away From His Route

When Corky Long is away from the office chances are he is spending time with his family.

He has five children: Tim (age 35); Manny (33); Crystal (32); Katie (21) and Dalton (17). He also has eight grandchildren with whom he enjoys spending time.

Corky opened a new chapter in his life in the mid-90s when he married wife Binda. He had known Binda growing up and later reconnected with her once he began attending Faith Assembly Church, Joplin, Mo. The couple were married in 1996.

Long’s other passion is singing — primarily Southern gospel, as well as some contemporary gospel. He recently had an opportunity to perform at the Carthage, Mo., Maple Leaf Festival, the largest parade in Southwest Missouri.

So how did Robert “Corky” Long develop his colorful nickname? “When I was born, my grandpa and brother came to the hospital to look at me through the glass, and my grandpa said, ‘He looks like a real corker.’ And the name stuck.”

Wears Many Hats.

Presto-X has recognized Long’s abilities and has given him additional responsibilities, including fumigation and fogging work.

“When I first started doing this work I was a little reluctant, but Presto-X reassured me and they have been really great with training,” he said. “They told me they would send someone with me until I was comfortable doing it myself.”

Now, Long has become the company’s top fumigator and is in charge of challenging and important accounts, such as rail cars.

In addition to fumigation work, Long has become a leading sales professional and trainer, a responsibility he really enjoys.

“I’ll have them follow me and check traps and we’ll also get into the finer points, such as what to look for with construction issues,” he said. “I’ll also work with them on paperwork, and this is important as we are a very paperwork-driven company,” he said.

Fears and others at Presto-X appreciate Long’s ability to be a team player. “He is always willing to assist fellow coworkers and lend a hand whenever and wherever necessary,” Fears said.

Long, in turn, appreciates that Presto-X has supported him and looks out for its employees. “It’s a company that is for the workers and is there to give employees a ‘pat on the back’ when they do well, and I’ve worked for other companies that haven’t been that way. I appreciate that [PCT] saw fit to recognize me, but there are a lot of better people at the company that have taught me the ropes.”


The author is Internet editor and managing editor of PCT magazine and can be contacted at bharbison@gie.net.

December 2013
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