Strategic Plan Unveiled at UPFDA Spring Conference

Features - Industry Events

At the United Producers, Formulators and Distributors Association (UPFDA) Spring Conference, held in Florida in April, a comprehensive strategic plan for the 54-year-old organization was unveiled.

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June 13, 2022

(Left to right) Karen Furgiuele, Gardex Chemicals; Art Assad, Agrisel; Jackie Angulo, Superior Angran; Debra Logue, BASF; and Scott Riley, MGK, enjoy the cocktail reception on the first day of the conference.

By Dan Moreland

After patiently tolerating two years of Zoom meetings prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 50 product suppliers and other industry stakeholders traveled to the Sunshine State in late April to meet face to face at the UPFDA Spring Conference, where a comprehensive strategic plan for the

54-year-old organization was unveiled.

The productive, two-day event featured a well-attended board of directors meeting, celebratory cocktail reception and jam-packed educational sessions featuring presentations by Steve Good of Good Strategies, Kemp Anderson of Kemp Anderson Consulting and Jeff Braun of Primera.

The meeting was a much-needed respite for those who experienced the disruption of the past two UPFDA spring conferences, one canceled in 2020 and the other held remotely in 2021 because of health concerns related to the pandemic. Yet even this year’s meeting could not completely avoid the ongoing impact of the pandemic with Braun giving his well-received presentation via Zoom “out of an abundance of caution” when he was exposed to the virus shortly before the event.

In kicking off the board of directors meeting on the first day of the conference, UPFDA President Tom Forshaw said, “I know we’ve gotten a lot done during Zoom meetings these past two years, but there’s no substitute for in-person get-togethers. That’s one of the reasons we’re so excited about this meeting.”

Steve Good of Good Strategies led two educational sessions, one on the importance of strategic planning and the second on how product suppliers can help PMPs achieve their goals.

And that enthusiasm was matched by UPFDA Executive Director Andrea Coron and Associate Director Kristin Coron, as well as the staff of the historic Don CeSar Hotel, a Mediterranean-style resort affectionately known as the “Pink Palace.” It rolled out the red carpet for UPFDA attendees as it has done for generations of visitors to the Gulf Coast since opening its doors in 1929 at the height of the Great Gatsby era before falling into disrepair in the wake of the Great Depression.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Don CeSar was saved from the wrecking ball and re-opened as a full-service resort in 1973, gaining renewed fame when it was featured in the movie “Once Upon a Time in America,” starring Robert De Niro and James Woods, as well as the MTV documentary “Southern Accents,” which included a rooftop performance by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

Much like the Don CeSar, which experienced its fair share of ups and downs during its storied history, UPFDA members and their association were impacted significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic, but that didn’t mean the organization wasn’t working diligently behind the scenes to address its future. In fact, during the pandemic shutdown, UPFDA embarked on an ambitious strategic planning process, the results of which were unveiled by Committee Chairperson Jackie Angulo on the second day of the conference.

The yearlong process, facilitated by industry consultant Mark DiNunzio, president of MarketPoint Solutions, resulted in a streamlined committee structure, long-term strategic plan, and updated mission and vision statements.

The new committee structure includes an Executive Committee led by Tom Forshaw of Forshaw; an Internal Committee overseen by Karen Furgiuele of Gardex Chemicals; and an External Committee chaired by Cisse Spragins of Rockwell Labs. Various subcommittees will perform additional tasks of importance to UPFDA and its members. An overview of the three-tiered committee structure appears below:

Executive Committee

  • Advocacy & Ethics
  • Nominating
  • Governance & Bylaws
  • Strategic Planning (Ad Hoc)

Internal Committee

  • Finance
  • Membership
  • Meetings & Collaboration

External Committee

  • Liaison
  • Public Relations
  • Regulatory & Government Affairs

“The new structure was designed to support committee chairs and help with the transition of new chairs so the history of what each committee has done can more easily be transferred,” Forshaw said. In this way, UPFDA hopes “to build transparency and flexibility, all in an effort to supply more benefits to our members and help sell UPFDA to partners who aren’t yet members.”

In providing an overview of the strategic plan during the educational portion of the Spring Conference, Angulo said committee members wanted to be respectful of UPFDA’s past while addressing the association’s future.

“The founders of our small group were able to create an organization where we could meet and talk about difficult subjects and bring solutions that would be beneficial to the industry,” she said. As the vice president of a third-generation business herself (Superior Angran) Angulo said she has been attending UPFDA events from the time she was a child.

“When I was young, people were always good and well intentioned, constantly teaching me the big lessons in life,” she said. “Now that I’m older and wiser, I understand that people only shared these very personal experiences and lessons because they believed in what they were doing and wanted to pass it along. It is in this spirit that we want to keep this organization moving forward.”

While serving on the Strategic Planning Committee with fellow committee members Donna Giacalone, The Bug Stop; Debra Logue, BASF; Rick McDonald, Catchmaster; Scott Riley, MGK; and Forshaw, Angulo said, “I have learned to see the beauty in the process of change. I’m convinced that UPFDA is firmly positioned to serve our industry members.”

The historic Don CeSar Hotel, built during the Great Gatsby era, hosted the UPFDA Spring Conference.

Yet despite all that’s been accomplished this past year, Angulo said the committee’s work isn’t done. “Overall, we believe this process will continue to add more value to the organization. Every year the strategic thinking process will continue as annual plans are constantly refined for the betterment of UPFDA.”

Following Angulo on the program were a series of high-profile speakers that addressed the current and future state of the pest control industry, providing insights about how to survive during one of the most volatile periods in the history of the industry.

Good’s session, “Designing, Building & Executing a Winning Strategy,” couldn’t have been more timely given the multiple challenges facing the industry, from supply chain issues to an inflationary economy and employee recruitment to regulatory issues.

“Every organization needs some type of a strategic plan,” he said. “Every business needs a growth strategy.”

Good, a graduate of the University of Memphis with a degree in economics, added, “It’s all about strategy, structure and people. … But you can’t start with the people. You have to start with the strategy. Then you put the right people in the right places to fulfill your strategy.”

Kemp Anderson’s session took a look at the past, present and future of pest management, which not only survived but thrived during the pandemic thanks to the business acumen and creativity of pest management professionals, product suppliers and other various industry stakeholders.

Anderson, who holds an MBA in finance and operations management from The Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College, echoed Good’s comments, urging members to take a strategic interest in their customers’ businesses.

“You need to be more strategic today and you need to help PMPs be more strategic than in the past,” he said, because the industry is a fleet-based, route-based business that is under enormous inflationary pressure due to skyrocketing fuel, labor and vehicle replacement costs.

“And we’re still recovering from what happened in Q2” of 2020, when the pandemic caused numerous lockdowns and business closures. “It’s hard to imagine that there’s not a recession on the horizon,” he said.

Primera’s Braun, a member-owned cooperative of independent distributors serving the pest control, turf and ornamental markets, followed Anderson. In his high-energy session titled “Positive Connection in a Seemingly Always Connected World,” Braun shared valuable insights about how to build and connect world-class teams that transform organizations.

“Connections are mutual,” he said. “There have to be benefits for both [parties],” citing the work of Dr. Brene Brown, a research professor, author and podcast host, who describes connection as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

“A true positive connection gives more than it receives,” Braun observed, walking attendees through an exercise whereby they created their own “Personal Connection Plan.”

Rounding out the educational portion of the program was a second presentation by Good titled, “How Suppliers Can Help PMPs Achieve Their Goals.”

In other association news:

  • Casey Prewitt of Neogen was elected to the UPFDA Board of Directors, replacing Tom Wharton of FMC, who has moved on to a new role at FMC.
  • Shardra Cropchem Limited was approved as the latest UPFDA member company.
  • Patrick Lynch of Bell Laboratories has been selected to serve as the UPFDA representative on the NPMA Board of Directors, succeeding Tom Forshaw.

Corporate sponsors for the UPFDA Spring Conference included Bell Laboratories, Superior Angran, Catchmaster, Nisus, PCT and Forshaw.

To learn more about UPFDA or to become a member, visit www.upfda.com.

The author is publisher emeritus of PCT magazine.