FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — The early days of the pandemic had a number of ramifications for the pest control industry in 2020, with one of the most notable being the cancellation of the UPFDA Spring Conference, an annual event attended by the industry’s product manufacturers, formulators and distributors.
Entering the second year of the pandemic, with conference and trade show activity still in the early stages of recovery, much like the overall economy, the UPFDA board of directors decided to hold this year’s event virtually rather than return to an in-person event. Results were positive.
In kicking off the half-day meeting, UPFDA President Thomas Forshaw IV said hosting the Spring Conference virtually represents an opportunity “to get more people from each of our companies educated and involved,” while reaching out to industry colleagues who may not have attended an UPFDA event in the past.
“I believe that in order for UPFDA to remain a healthy and viable organization, the association must grow,” he said. “We must be able to articulate the value UPFDA provides.”
And while everyone would agree it has been a challenging year, UPFDA members have much to be thankful for, according to Forshaw, president of distributor Forshaw. “The first thing I’m thankful for is that I’m part of the pest management industry, an industry that was classified as essential last year,” he said, “and an industry that saw growth in a year our country’s GDP shrank. The second thing I’m thankful for is 2021 is off to a great start.”
But to sustain that growth, while continuing to ensure UPFDA remains a vital and vibrant presence in the pest management industry for years to come, the organization must establish a long-term vision and enhance its brand, according to Forshaw, which is why the organization’s board of directors recently formed a Strategic Planning Committee led by Jacqueline Angulo, CEO of Superior Angran.
As part of the strategic planning effort, UPFDA retained the services of consultant Mark DiNunzio, president of MarketPoint Solutions. “This committee is working to create a plan to revitalize UPFDA’s branding and develop a strategic plan to help guide the association’s direction in the future,” Forshaw said. “The Strategic Planning Committee is in the process of developing measurable goals and creating a strategic roadmap to help us achieve those goals.”
Angulo then introduced DiNunzio, who provided an overview of the Strategic Planning Committee’s work thus far, with the goal of “future-proofing the association. Lots of industry associations have experienced challenges, not just last year, but even in preceding years,” DiNunzio said, so it’s always good to step back and assess “what value it brings to its members,” establishing a roadmap that will “enhance and expand that value proposition” moving forward.
To achieve that goal, the committee is taking a three-phase approach to the project. Phase 1 will focus on building a vision and mission for the future with measurable objectives put in place. Phase 2 will involve the creation of a strategic plan that is developed with the input from all UPFDA committees. And Phase 3 will focus on how to “communicate a really strong value proposition moving forward,” DiNunzio said.
In commenting on UPFDA’s progress thus far, Forshaw said, “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Jackie and everybody working on the Strategic Planning Committee for the energy that you’ve invested to make us a strong organization.”
PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS. The rest of the half-day conference was devoted to educational sessions focusing on such diverse topics as how to develop “Sustainable Protocols and Strategies for Continued Growth and Development,” led by Greg Clendenin, CEO of The Clendenin Consulting Group; “Achieving B2B Customer Intimacy,” featuring Mark DiNunzio, president of MarketPoint Solutions; and a highly anticipated keynote address by U.S. Air Force Retired Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Sweeney, who shared his experiences as a decorated pilot during the Gulf War to communicate the five principles of “Pressure Cooker Confidence – How to Lead When the Heat is On.”
Clendenin, who played a pivotal role in the growth of such well-known companies as Middleton Pest Control and Sears Termite & Pest Control, shared how any organization – large or small – can achieve exponential growth. First and foremost, he said, “growth is a mindset” that starts with a company’s leadership. “If you can’t see it in your mind’s eye, you can’t do it.”
In the conference’s keynote address, Sweeney shared a real-life experience of how to lead during a crisis when the KC-135 tanker aircraft he was commanding lost two engines in a combat sortie during Operation Desert Storm. Despite overwhelming odds, Sweeney and his crew of four, which were all awarded the U.S. Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross for their heroism, successfully landed the plane in Saudi Arabia after stabilizing the aircraft mid-flight.
Being able to respond appropriately “when the heat is on” requires preparation and commitment, Sweeney said. He was an active-duty pilot for six years and an Air National Guard pilot for 17 years, and during that time he worked every day “to be one percent better than the previous day.”
The same is true for business. “Every client or customer you encounter, try to be two or three percent better than the previous encounter,” he said. If you do, it will make a difference.
The UPFDA Virtual Spring Conference also featured presentations by Kristi Wells, who shared information about the Safe House Project
, a national leader in the fight against sex trafficking in America; and Cindy Mannes, NPMA vice president of public affairs, who updated members on the association’s Workforce Development Initiative (learn more at http://npmapestworld.org/workforceplan
Following the day’s activities, Executive Director Andrea Coron thanked members “for making the UPFDA Spring Conference a great success. We hope you all enjoyed the awesome line-up of presentations and some good networking time during the breakout sessions.”
UPFDA will be meeting in person at NPMA PestWorld 2021 in Las Vegas on Nov. 3 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (location TBA).
To learn more about UPFDA or to become a member, visit upfda.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 540-681-2114.
The author is publisher of PCT magazine.