In a career at Batzner Pest Management that spans 17 years, Scott Lupo, the 2014 PCT Residential Technician of the Year, has “worn many hats” at the New Berlin, Wis.-based company, but residential truly is where he “hangs his hat.”
“I like residential work because there are so many issues that can arise,” Lupo said. “Not only are you controlling common pests like mice and ants, but you can come across pests like raccoons and squirrels. Then you have customers who might have requests on how and where you treat. I like that there is a lot of thinking involved.”
Lupo, an ex-Marine, says he reverts back to skills he learned during his service. “Problem-solving is such a big part of this job. When I was a Marine it was, ‘Here’s the problem. What steps do I take to resolve the problem?’”
But perhaps more important than any technical and problem-solving skills he possesses, Lupo is a “people person” who has a knack for connecting with his customers, says Paul Matusiak, senior service manager at Batzner Pest Management.
“I’ve observed a situation where Scott built an immediate personal relationship with a new customer — a senior citizen — by listening, sharing and treating him like he was a young man,” he said. “Similarly, when talking to a young kid, Scott will give him the respect of an older person. He just has a way of making people feel real comfortable.”
Giving and Receiving from Volunteer Efforts
When Scott Lupo is not out solving customers’ pest problems, chances are he is spending time with Nisa, his wife of 13 years, and their two sons Joe (11) and Vinnie (6). He and his family actively participate in autism awareness efforts, in support of son Vinnie, who was diagnosed with the disorder at age 3.
He has been involved in Walk Now for Autism Speaks, which raises funds for research and increased autism awareness. This past year he and a coworker organized company-wide involvement in the fundraising walk and helped raise more than $2,000.
In recent years, Lupo has been volunteering his time at LifeStriders, a non-profit organization that provides life-enhancing physical and psychological therapy to individuals with special needs. He volunteers three to four hours each week as a horse-riding sidewalker. In this role, he will walk alongside horses and be responsible for riders’ safety and control, and helping with tasks and exercises. “You’re trying to help them break down walls,” Lupo said. “Each person’s situation is different. For example, there was one girl we worked with who was real quiet, so a lot of the work we did with her was to get her to talk more and open up.”
Lupo says his involvement with LifeStriders has been an enriching experience. “It’s really opened my eyes to just how many kids with special needs are out there,” he said. “I can’t put into words how it makes you feel when you see a smile on those kids’ faces.”
Another important reason for Lupo’s residential preference is more personal. Lupo is a dedicated family man, so working more of a daytime schedule is a better fit for him. He’s been able to find a balance between being a standout service professional while taking care of his family and serving his community (see related story, right sidebar).
In many ways, when Lupo joined Batzner Pest Management in 1996, it was a natural fit. A native of Waukesha, Wis., Lupo comes from a family of fixers; both his grandfather and father were mechanics. From an early age, Lupo had his sights set on the U.S. Marine Corps and enlisted soon after high school. “All the way from middle school through high school that’s what I wanted to do,” Lupo said. “I always looked up to Marines.”
Lupo was an infantryman stationed mainly in California, but he also served in Japan as well as in Hawaii and Korea. “I took a lot away from that experience. Being a Marine gives you confidence and teaches you work ethic and persistence. You have to do the job right, no matter how long it takes and what obstacles you encounter.”
After his stint with the Marines was up, Lupo enrolled at a technical college and he learned about Batzner Pest Management from the college’s job center. “It looked like an interesting job so I set up a ride-along with another technician, and the more I thought about what the job involved, it seemed like a good fit.”
Lupo came on board at an interesting time, as Batzner Pest Management was on the verge of significant growth. “The company is like a family. When I first started we only had 12 technicians and now we have more than 60, but it still has family values. They take pride in solving problems and treating customers right.”
Also during Lupo’s early years, Batzner Pest Management was implementing its IPM program, which it branded B.A.N. (Balanced as Nature). President Jerry Batzner appreciated Lupo’s willingness to adapt. “Scott embraced the protocols and philosophy of our IPM service,” he said. “He always takes great care and pride in his work, making sure he determines the best possible treatment plan that is effective and environmentally responsible.”
Examples of Lupo’s personal touch with clients — and even strangers — include:
- Helping a stranded motorist pull her car out of a snow bank.
- Carrying in newspapers and offering assistance with other non-pest control issues.
- A customer who commented, “Scott was professional, personable and answered all of my questions. We even joked together.”
Additionally, Lupo has shown initiative by leading the company’s cluster fly treatment program, a niche service that requires timely late-August applications. This job involved working 14 days straight in the heat of the summer. He also voluntarily took the lead on the company’s local transit system contract, leading his team to complete the required 2 a.m. treatment (when all buses had returned to their terminal).
As Lupo has become one of the more seasoned service professionals at Batzner, he’s taken on some training responsibilities. He is one of the service professionals who excels at teaching the finer points of bat control. For example, he’ll advise trainees to bring a bright flashlight and good pair of binoculars and provide them with tips for finding openings that can only come from an experienced in-the-field technician.
“[Training] reminds me of being a Marine squad leader,” he said. “You teach them the best way to solve a problem or the best advice for talking with customers. I really like working with the newer technicians.”
While becoming a manager one day is something Lupo says he may pursue, right now he is content being a highly productive service professional and valued mentor — roles that have been instrumental to Batzner Pest Management’s success. As Jerry Batzner noted, “Scott has been an integral member of our team, continuously improving himself, the company and those around him.”
The author is Internet editor and managing editor of PCT.