One of my favorite songs of all time is “Over the Rainbow.” Made famous by actress Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz,” the beloved tune won an Academy Award in 1939 and was voted the greatest song of the 20th century by the Recording Industry Association of America. Penned by composer Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg, “Over the Rainbow” has been embraced by generations of Americans, in part, because it speaks to the powerful attraction of “home” in all of our lives. As you may recall, “Over the Rainbow” is performed within the first five minutes of “The Wizard of Oz” as young Dorothy wrestles with the stark reality of life in rural Kansas, a black and white world very different from the Technicolor tableau of Oz, where she will soon travel “over the rainbow” and “beyond the rain” to experience numerous adventures with Toto, her loyal companion throughout the film.
I was reminded of these memorable movie moments while proofreading an article in this month’s issue of PCT magazine titled “First Responders”. It chronicles how the pest management industry reacted to the devastating floods that displaced so many families and damaged 146,000 homes in and around Baton Rouge, La., this past summer. With rainfall levels exceeding 31 inches in some areas, the “no-name” storm that caused the flooding proved more devastating for many local residents than Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The impact of this latest Gulf Coast natural disaster was devastating, according to Laura Simpson, president of Dugas Pest Control, a family-owned business that has served the region for many years. “It’s mind boggling how many people ... lost everything they own.” Fortunately, she says, “As a community, I think we’ve done a great job of pulling together,” something I’ve witnessed time and time again throughout my career covering the industry, particularly in the wake of a natural disaster, personal tragedy or catastrophic fire — stories that we chronicle in the pages of PCT magazine.
A case in point is Massey Services, the fifth largest pest control company in the United States with a long history of community outreach and team member involvement at the local, state and national levels. The flooding in Baton Rouge hit particularly close to home for company founder and CEO Harvey Massey, who grew up just an hour away in the tiny town of Melville, La., where his grandfather operated a general store.
So when he heard Baton Rouge was in trouble and the vast majority of residents impacted by the storm didn’t have flood insurance, Harvey Massey — like so many PMPs before him — jumped into action. In addition to giving money to the recovery efforts, Massey Services donated hundreds of free pest control services to local residents, taking at least one household worry off their plate during a particularly trying time in their lives.
“You look at situations like this and ask, ‘what can we do that’ll make the greatest impact?’” said President Tony Massey. “We began with a donation to the Red Cross. But we wanted to do more for our team members and neighbors. So we said, let’s provide our pest services free of charge so they have one less thing to worry about. After all, it’s the right thing to do for our community.” Which is exactly what Massey Services did, helping customers and non-customers alike get back on their feet, while serving as an inspiring example of how to make a positive difference in people’s lives during times of crisis.
“You can’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands,” Harvey Massey told i4 Business magazine several years ago. “There isn’t a Sunday when I go to Mass that I don’t give thanks for all I have received, but I always ask that I be a better steward and be equally good at giving as I am at receiving.”
Within days of the flooding, Simpson said she “received calls from pest control companies throughout the country” offering their financial support to affected employees and the community. The outpouring of support is “a testament to how close knit the pest control industry is,” she observed.
It’s also a testament to the essential goodness of so many in our industry, men and women like Harvey Massey and Laura Simpson who selflessly give back to their communities in good times and in bad. That’s because they understand that no matter where their dreams may have taken them during their distinguished careers, there’s no place like home.
The author is publisher of PCT magazine. He can be contacted at email@example.com.