What would a 50th anniversary be without a celebration? That is exactly what UPFDA is planning as it heads to Chicago and The Drake Hotel, April 17-19, for its annual spring conference.
The event will feature an outstanding lineup of speakers offering their insights on topics of interest to formulators, distributors, and manufacturers of pest control products, as well as issues of importance to other key industry stakeholders.
The program will include an update on the current state of legislative and regulatory affairs from David Crow, president of DC Legislative and Regulatory Services; a discussion of challenges and opportunities in the mosquito control market by Stan Cope, vice president of technical products and services, AP&G; a PMP thought-leader session featuring Bob Dold, president and COO of Rose Pest Solutions; and a state of the industry report from Dan Moreland, publisher of PCT magazine.
In addition, the association will celebrate its golden anniversary with a special final night banquet where 50 years of dedication to the structural pest management industry will be celebrated and those who guided UPFDA through the years honored. Tommy Reeves, vice president of Oldham Chemicals, will serve as the master of ceremonies and Chicago Bears Hall of Famer Dan Hampton will be the keynote speaker.
Hampton was a key member of Mike Ditka’s Chicago Bears, which defeated the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX. Prior to his 12-year NFL career, Hampton was an All-American football player at the University of Arkansas, where he led the Razorbacks to an Orange Bowl victory in 1978. After being drafted in the first round, Hampton was voted to the NFL All-Rookie team where his fierce style of play earned him the nickname of “Danimal.” He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1982 and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002. Following his football career, Hampton has worked as a color commentator on NFL games and as a radio host, as well as served as a spokesperson for such well-known brands as Chevrolet and Firestone.
“While all our conferences are outstanding, the 50th Anniversary UPFDA Spring Conference promises to be a notch or two above,” says Executive Director Valera Jessee. “We hope product and service providers serving the pest management industry will make a special effort to attend this year’s conference. It will be a time to make new friends, visit with old acquaintances and celebrate the work that we do in the specialty pest control industry.
“It will be like a family reunion as we honor the people who have contributed so much to UPFDA and the industry since its inception,” she added. “You will leave Chicago fulfilled and energized on how we can help grow the industry in the years ahead.”
For those arriving early or staying after the conference, Jessee said the city of Chicago offers first-class restaurants and a variety of sightseeing and entertainment options, including the 360 Chicago observation deck on the 94th floor of the John Hancock building, an architecture river cruise, gangster tour and multiple music venues.
Sponsors of the two-day event include: AP&G, AMVAC, BASF, Bayer, BedBug Central, Bell Laboratories, Bug Stop, Central Life Sciences/Zoëcon, Dow AgroSciences, FMC, Forshaw, Gardex Chemicals, Liphatech, MGK, Neogen, Oldham Chemicals, Paragon, PCT, PMP, Syngenta and Target Specialty Products.
2018 was a grind at Terminix. Strategic acquisitions and an internal focus on people and processes are helping build a culture of serving, caring and delivering at one of the industry’s most recognized pest control operations.
At a series of five town hall meetings across the country in early 2018, involving all 800 front-line leaders of Terminix, the new president of its residential pest control and termite business tuned in to days of listening.
“This is a fast-paced business where you can drive a lot of change in a short period of time if you are driving the change correctly,” says Matt Stevenson, who stepped into the role in October 2017 after a career in the auto industry, where he dealt with wholly owned distributors, dealers and franchisees. He knows how to motivate the front line in a branch-based network.
Change in the automobile industry — for example, rolling out an innovation — could take years. “That is not the case here,” Stevenson says of pest control, digging into what’s known on Wall Street as the Terminix Transformation.
“We can make changes that improve employees’ and customers’ lives, and we can literally do that in days and start to see the impact,” he says.
An overnight turnaround of a nationally recognized residential brand that had collected some dust over the years might be a bit ambitious. But the truth is, in just one year, Terminix is making measurable headway on a culture rebuild and strategic objectives focused on serving customers, taking care of employees and delivering profitable growth. “We call that our ‘wheel of life’ here,” Stevenson quips.
These initiatives are a direct result of listening — and therein lies the opportunity to improve, Stevenson says. “Terminix has an amazing brand, but it was an organization that hadn’t been listening to customers and employees the way they should have been. There was a big disconnect relative to what our front-line teammates were asking for and needed, and what was being driven from the home office.”
Terminix’s residential business had lackluster Net Promoter scores; a notable number of cancels were related to service delivery, based on equity research by the firm William Blair. The company had seen more team member turnover than desirable, with 70 percent of sales representatives citing their reason for breaking up with Terminix was because of an old compensation structure.
“My staff and I, alone, visited 100 branches last year,” Stevenson reports. “We met with small focus groups of technicians and outside sales professionals, we connected with branch leadership and did ride-alongs. We visited customers.”
Dialogue centered on a few themes: customer service, policies and procedures, and work-life balance. They relate to the “wheel of life” that Stevenson and his leadership team are driving as they build a culture focused on what matters most: people. “It’s about serving, caring and delivering,” he says.
RE-ENVISIONING EXPERIENCES. The Terminix turnaround is not limited to its residential business. Terminix Commercial’s interim president, Deni Naumann, is leading an integration of the businesses — particularly, merging national accounts by assessing client portfolios across the businesses and leveraging synergies.
“At Copesan, one thing we are very proud of is our rich history of doing national accounts best, and that’s evident through our great client retention — higher-than-normal Net Promoter scores,” says Naumann, who is wearing two hats and also serves as president of Copesan.
“We have been able to take our model, which we feel is value-added for national accounts, and move that into Terminix national accounts,” Naumann says.
The Terminix Transformation includes growth in the commercial market, a commitment made by ServiceMaster CEO Nick Varty in 2018. Naumann points out that since 2000, commercial pest control has grown 146 percent, while the residential pest control sector has grown by 35 percent. “From a commercial perspective, regulation has actually been our friend,” Naumann says, pointing to an elevated awareness of and demand for pest control services following the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Naumann is passionate about the industry’s mission to preserve and protect public health — and she believes Terminix will move onto a more visible stage from an association involvement and advocacy perspective. “We have the same mission, which is to protect food, health and property,” she says of the industry at large. And, regarding the Copesan and Terminix Commercial integration: “Any time you can bring in best practices and improve service delivery to build client loyalty, that’s a positive thing for pest management.”
Client loyalty is a focus of the Terminix Transformation, and Stevenson points to the company’s investment in systems to improve the customer experience. The culture is shifting toward one focused on digital technology, retention and growth. For example, a Salesforce partnership was announced in November 2018 and is guided by ServiceMaster’s chief transformation officer, Pratip Dastidar. Salesforce will help ServiceMaster, including Terminix, leverage data so technicians can better recommend products and services.
Terminix has an amazing brand, but it was an organization that hadn’t been listening to customers and employees the way they should have been.” — Matt Stevenson, president, residential pest control and termite business, Terminix
“We are living in a world where people want instant gratification,” Stevenson says. “We are evolving our processes and systems so we can get a 360 view of the customer. Using AI to see their buying patterns and knowing everything about their interactions will help us know their expectations before they even ask for something.”
Just as important is understanding what employees need to perform. Again, Stevenson’s listening. “Employees who are doing the work at ground level are helping us redesign processes as opposed to people in the home office who don’t do it every day,” he says.
Employees are seeking consistency, he adds. “There have been a lot of people in my job. They want longevity — a leader they can trust, with a strong culture and direction. They’re overwhelmingly saying, ‘Let’s stay on the same path.’”
SMART BUYS. In the last 15 months, Terminix’s parent company, ServiceMaster, has closed 29 M&A transactions (as of February 2019), and perhaps the most notable is the Copesan acquisition for $150 million. Copesan continues to operate its business under three brands: Copesan National Accounts, Wil-Kil Pest Control (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan) and Holder’s Pest Solutions (Texas).
Last year, ServiceMaster purchased Cooper Pest Solutions, “which brings a great level of expertise in bed bugs, as well as an anchor in the New Jersey/Philadelphia area,” Naumann points out. It also acquired Hometown Pest Services in Florida’s Palm Beach and Broward County region, bringing in a lawn care offering. The acquisition of Assured Environments elevates visibility in the commercial space. Assured Environments specializes in property management, hospitality, retail, education and food- processing facilities. Its blue-chip clients include some seof New York City’s landmarks: Rockefeller Center, Madison Square Garden and the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
Naumann says M&A has accelerated since Varty joined ServiceMaster (July 2017). The M&A strategy is centered on acquiring capabilities, systems, processes, platforms and people.
Meanwhile, ServiceMaster renamed its franchise services group ServiceMaster Brands.
Expect Terminix to expand on a global scale, with the William Blair report noting management’s interest in leveraging Terminix’s strengths and capabilities in fast-growing international markets where pest control services are increasing 20 to 30 percent annually.
Of the transition so far, Naumann says, “We’ve seen positive impact in client retention and Net Promoter scores on the Terminix brand, and we can see that those best practices are impacting the Terminix commercial and national accounts businesses.”
On the residential side, Stevenson says the grassroots approach to restoring a historically strong culture is paying off. “We’re getting back to [what’s important] — listening to employees, empowering them and putting customer service first,” he says. “We’re definitely in a better place.”
At an annual awards meeting, top- performers in the Terminix business were honored for their work. “We got great feedback about how personable they thought the home office was — how we are listening to them for the first time in quite a number of years, and they felt really valued and appreciated as employees,” he says.
Stevenson says a number of times, a colleague would tap him in passing and say, “Thanks.”
“We are gaining some trust,” he says.
Stevenson, who describes his leadership style as direct and fast-paced, yet humble, is excited to continue the momentum. And, he’ll keep listening. “We’re getting a foundation now — it was always there, just dusty, so we’re firming that back up — and we’re getting the morale going,” Stevenson says.
The author is a frequent contributor to PCT.
Phil Cooper to Lead Newly Formed Terminix Specialty Brands
In March, ServiceMaster announced the formation of a new business unit called Terminix Specialty Brands. The unit is comprised of 11 companies acquired by Terminix in recent years that are retaining their brand, along with new brand equity acquisitions.
Terminix Specialty Brands will be led by Phil Cooper, former owner of Cooper Pest Solutions, Lawrenceville, N.J., which was acquired by Terminix in May 2018. In this new role, Cooper will help drive process improvements, appropriately transition and integrate several long-standing acquisitions, and help integrate new acquisitions.
Cooper also will be part of the strategy and business development team, reporting to Dion Persson. He will help in identifying companies with brand equity to join the Specialty Brands division, which includes A-Pro (California), Capelouto (Florida), Catseye (New York), Certified (Texas), Cooper (New Jersey/Pennsylvania), Godfather’s (Minnesota), Hometown (Florida), Schendel (Kansas/Oklahoma/Arizona/Missouri), Seitz Brothers (Pennsylvania) and SOS Exterminating (Arizona).
“Terminix has a great collection of brands with tremendous brand equity and we are adding more. We are creating a platform to leverage these brands, supercharge their revenue, gain operating efficiencies and put their teams into winning positions.” Cooper says. “These powerful brands will be part of a proud new tradition, resulting in new raving fans of Terminix, ServiceMaster and the culture we are designing.”
Nik Varty, CEO of ServiceMaster, added, “Acquisitions are and will continue to be an important source of growth. We are focused on bringing in companies that deliver incredible shareholder value through synergies, much needed capabilities and outstanding talent. Phil is an entrepreneur who understands what it takes to build brand value through superb customer service and great care of the front line.”
Copesan Services, including Wil-Kil and Holder’s, and Assured Environments, Terminix’s recent acquisition in New York City, will continue to be managed by their current leadership.
ServiceMaster Acquires Inspect-All Services
ServiceMaster, through its subsidiary, Terminix International, in April acquired the Atlanta-area pest control division of Inspect-All Services, headquartered in Conyers, Ga. The company ranked #81 on this year’s PCT Top 100.
Under the leadership of brothers Brian and Brandon Lunsford, who purchased Inspect-All in 2006 from their father, the company has become one of the industry’s fastest-growing firms and is on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies.
Inspect-All Services, founded in 1984, will continue to operate under its current name and will complement ServiceMaster’s presence in the residential services market.
“Our top priority was to make sure the acquirer’s core values aligned with ours so that our team and customers would be in good hands moving forward,” said Inspect-All Services co-owners Brian and Brandon Lunsford. “After thorough research and many discussions with our adviser and the ServiceMaster team, we are confident that Inspect-All Services will continue to flourish under the new leadership.”
Not included in the sale was Inspect-All Services’ multi-state home inspection division, now called LunsPro Home Inspections, and its Jacksonville, Fla., pest control operation, now called Kingfish Pest Control. The Lunsford siblings will continue to own and operate those businesses.
Paul Giannamore of The Potomac Company acted as exclusive financial adviser to Inspect-All Services. Mike Stanczyk of Lynn D’Elia Temes & Stanczyk acted as legal counsel to Inspect-All Services. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Engaging Millennials in Pest Management: From Training to Recognition
Columns - Tech Talk
Millennials now account for the largest percentage of the population — about 35 percent. PMPs must make adjustments in the way they attract, train and manage this younger generation in the business of pest management.
With people living longer, the age of retirement increasing and most adults working outside the home, many different generations occupy the workforce today. However, millennials, or those aged 22-37, account for the largest population, or about 35 percent, of U.S. workers. In our business, we have had to make adjustments in the way we attract, train and manage this younger generation in the business of pest management.
There is a lot to consider when working with younger workers — and it starts with your company’s training program. We assessed if our training program was meeting the needs of these younger employees and, in so doing, we learned a few lessons. First, it is critical to embrace and incorporate technology into any training program. Technology is no longer a luxury add-on feature, but a standard requirement of daily life, and training programs should be designed with this in mind. At Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions, our field personnel receive a training schedule that outlines their training for the next five years.
We try and build that training progression around the typical career path we have established for each job description. After joining the Rottler team, our professionals have the option to pursue a supervisor/manager path or to explore a sales path. Both paths have specific training modules that align the education and opportunities with the training needs of each position. We have found that our staff appreciates this method of giving them something toward which to work.
Our team members can use their smartphones, tablets and apps to perform their regular day’s work, so we have found that it’s important in all our training to also introduce this format early on in their training.
Here are some of the different training formats we use:
Kahoot. Kahoot is an app that allows you to build challenges that can be used in large or small group settings. Basically, you build a quiz that everyone competes to win, scoring on accuracy and speed. The app then ranks all contestants and posts the leaders in real time. We have found this gamification of training principles keeps all generations engaged.
YouTube. Millennials also generally prefer to learn through video training versus through reading materials. Consequently, we have converted many of our lessons from text to video, often starring our younger team members.
OTHER TIPS & TRICKS. The ability to learn in a hands-on method is important, so we have even asked employees to create training videos by recording themselves. We request videos of themselves performing service; we ask them to find interesting pest issues; and we also ask them to provide videos of a “day in the life of a pest control technician” (which we use in our recruitment videos).
We have even experimented with employees participating in the creation of his or her own training. They pick the pest issue they find interesting, which increases engagement in the activity.
With all our different training formats, we always tie a quiz to the training to verify that our participants are retaining the information.
It is essential to frame your training around teaching soft and hard skills. Protocols and techniques are mandatory to understand, but don’t underestimate the importance of training in areas that can help our technicians work well with others, resolve conflict effectively and deliver excellent customer service.
Younger workers want to feel they’re making a difference. They’re motivated when they feel they are contributing positively to our business.
Some other things we have learned is that millennials tend to be more adaptive to change, so don’t hesitate to modify something that isn’t working.
Employee recognition is important to our team members as well and should be a part of any pest control company’s culture. Celebrate when technicians earn their licenses or certification by announcing it at team meetings or in an email to all team members. We have even created a “Good News Friday” newsletter that has a section that points out all team members’ accomplishments.
FINAL THOUGHTS. New recruits in the pest control industry have a lot to learn and they must learn it quickly. The ability to reach them in a meaningful way will help them come up to speed faster and with greater knowledge and capabilities.
Don’t keep your head in the sand when it comes to understanding different generations. In my company, communication is key. If you are a leader in your organization, you should stretch yourself to better understand the changing needs of the current workforce. And, it doesn’t stop with millennials — be on the lookout for modifications that may appeal more to the influx of fresh talent, the Gen “Zs.”
I have found that this process for training and recruiting our current workforce has accelerated the speed at which our technicians start in their routes. It does take a fair amount of time to create this type of training and modify your management approach, but it has positively impacted our ability to attract and retain team members.
Jason Everitt is technical director for Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions in St. Louis, Mo. He has been with the firm for more than 24 years and is a member of the Copesan Technical Committee. He has completed his ACE (Associate Certified Entomologist) certification through ESA. He describes himself as “a school of hard knocks guy” who has enjoyed every moment of working his way up from service technician to sales representative to commercial technician supervisor to branch manager.
Copesan is an alliance of pest management companies with locations throughout North America. To learn more, visit
when Matt Jesson established Green Lawn Fertilizing in West Chester, Pa., in 2004, his goal was to create an industry-leading company. After building the business steadily for several years, Jesson recognized an opportunity to accelerate its growth by adding a dedicated pest and termite division. He launched Green Pest Solutions in 2012, the same year his firm was named to the Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The company held a spot on that list for each of the five subsequent years; it has also been among the Philadelphia 100 fastest-growing privately held companies twice.
“A visit to Massey Services in Orlando by several members of our leadership team in 2009 was highly influential on our decision to go into pest control,” says Jesson. “We saw a world-class company that was successful in both lawn care and pest control, with great synergies between the two business units. We made the decision right then and there to go all in on pest control. It took a lot of planning and investment in the right people, but less than three years later, we were ready to hit the ground running.”
Green Pest Solutions is still running strong: Its momentum continues as the company focuses on recurring business from its primarily residential customers (89 percent) in the tri-state region of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Pest control revenues grew more than 30 percent in 2018, says Director of Marketing Ben Schloss, due in part to the firm’s environmentally friendly positioning.
“Families appreciate our IPM approach and use of water-based products,” Schloss explains. “We focus on outdoor applications, applying products indoors only as a last resort.” This “Green Band of Protection” approach has earned Green Pest Solutions local accolades, including being named 2018 Best of Philly Earth-Friendly Exterminator.
The company’s service has been lauded as well, with honors including the 2017 Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Customer Service Excellence Award and Philly.com’s Reader Choice Award for Best Pest Control. Schloss says, “We are constantly evaluating our processes, and if something isn’t working, we change it — improve it so we continue to exceed customer expectations. For example, when we noticed that a lot of customers needed follow-up service calls about a month after their initial service, we revamped our pest program to proactively get out to each customer 30 days after their initial service to get ahead of any potential recurrence.”
In terms of sales and marketing, Green Lawn Fertilizing and Green Pest Solutions do cross-sell services, but they each maintain a separate database and an independent presence on the web. “It’s important to capitalize on synergies while also building strong individual brands,” Schloss says. — Donna DeFranco
Hoffman Exterminating Company, Mantua, N.J., started in 1990 the way so many pest management companies do — with one determined entrepreneur working out of his home and knocking on doors to win customers. But after many years of steady organic growth, William Hoffman welcomed industry veteran Robert Schwenker to the company and the partners started looking at a new approach to business building: strategic acquisitions. Hoffman Exterminating, which serves the food-processing, health-care and property management industries in addition to residential customers and municipalities, has since grown to 60 employees (during the peak season) in four offices, with projected sales of $7 million in 2019.
“We aren’t flying under the radar anymore. Acquiring eight companies in the past three years has helped us become the largest family-owned pest management company in the Southern New Jersey market,” says Hoffman. The acquired companies include Shur-Kill Exterminating, Term-A-Pest, Delsea Exterminators, Mosquito Platoon, Total Pest Solutions, Ideal Pest Control, DC Watkins Company and Willow Pest Control.
Hoffman emphasizes that each of these transactions was carefully planned in collaboration with the previous owners to ensure continuity of customer care. “When we set out to grow our residential business, we found that there’s a distinct segment of small, family-run businesses interested in selling to a company like ours, with a leadership team who prioritizes customers and employees. After personally building these businesses, these owners are much more interested in ensuring that their customers are treated with dignity and respect than in selling to the highest bidder,” he says.
Word of mouth led one company after another to Hoffman, as business owners explained that the standard acquisition model simply didn’t appeal to them. “They felt that their ideas and concerns would not be heard if they were acquired by a large company. We’ve given them the opportunity to continue to have a say in how their customers’ needs are being met,” says Hoffman.
Hoffman attributes his company’s success to the talents and commitment of its people. As the firm continues to grow, Vice President Eve Pappas is focused on building a team of exceptional leaders through strategic recruitment, training, development and mentoring. Those who have been with the company since the early days, including Mike Jenzano, lead account manager; Jodie Gallagher, lead customer retention specialist; and Bethann Wheeler, controller, who all started as part-time employees, are also key players in Hoffman’s growth today.
“I set out to build a business people would be proud to work at and retire from, and now we continue to build that brand together,” Hoffman says. “Whether we’re doing our jobs or participating in local festivals or sporting events, we’re focused on connecting with our communities to let them know they can always count on us.” — Donna DeFranco