In late March, COVID-19 sent business across the nation spiraling into a state of confusion and panic. Fortunately, NPMA quickly jumped into action and kept pest management businesses informed every step of the way.
First and foremost, the association launched an overwhelming effort to educate lawmakers about how pest control is an essential industry. (See the article detailing legislative efforts on page 22.) “The essential worker classification was one of the most valuable things NPMA did to make a difference,” says Robert Baker, President of Clark Pest Control in California. “Without that, we likely would have had to shut down—which would have been devastating not only to our employees but our customers as well. Since people have been working from home and sheltering in place, the demand for residential pest control has absolutely increased. People see the need for what we do.”
Katherine Brush, CA, owner of ABBS PC in Oklahoma, says NPMA’s support at the onset of the pandemic was a game-changer. “While there still isn’t a lot known about COVID-19, it is known that it caused a great deal of hardship for everyone,” she says. “Many were put into quarantine and businesses temporarily closed to keep everyone safe and prevent the spread of the disease further. But there were others who either couldn’t or didn’t know if they were deemed essential. We were one such company and reached out to NPMA. Not only did they keep us educated about COVID-19, they were instrumental in helping us be declared as essential in Oklahoma.”
Throughout these uncertain times, NPMA has worked diligently to keep the lines of communication open, offering members invaluable resources, information and guidance.
At the onset of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, NPMA launched a COVID-19 website at www.pestcontrolcoronavirus.com. “The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a rapidly evolving pandemic with many implications on our lives, businesses, employees and families,” the website states. “NPMA recognizes the need for our members to have accurate information as it relates to COVID-19. We will make every attempt to provide CDC and PHAC recommended actions and updates as this continues to unfold.”
The website includes ongoing pandemic-related updates for the pest management industry. This includes everything from CDC info and government resources to talking points for communicating with customers and legislators and guidance for HR departments to information about how pest management businesses can add disinfectant offerings to bridge gaps in service.
To top it off, at the beginning of the pandemic, NPMA quickly organized informative webinars to keep members up-to-date about the latest regulations. Between March 20th and April 14th, the association hosted three COVID-19 webinars, each of which drew more than 800 attendees. The topics covered included a breakdown of COVID-19 related federal funding, a critical look at what to consider before entering the disinfection services market and how member companies were adapting to the “new normal.”
“When we started having these conference calls and sharing with our peers, we discovered they were experiencing the same issues,” says Michael Rottler, President/CEO of Rottler Pest Solutions in St. Louis. “They all were sharing things they’d done and procedures they’ve changed, and that was really helpful.”
Additionally, NPMA launched its Back to the Basics webinar series. These webinars offered continuing education opportunities for members who were having a hard time finding recertification credits after many in-person events were cancelled or postponed. “NPMA’s continued response plan and efforts to develop online CEU and recertification programs that each state would accept since we could not attend in person were invaluable,” says Justin McCauley, CEO of McCauley Services in Arkansas.
Brush echoes this sentiment. “They provided valuable online training for our CEUs and weekly webinars to set up a new service for our business,” she adds. “With the knowledge they shared with us, we were able to provide disinfection services to our customers.”
On June 10th, NPMA also hosted an online workshop highlighting rodent behavior and control in the COVID-19 era.
ALL THE DIFFERENCE
Pest management leaders say NPMA’s swift response and continual communications during the coronavirus pandemic have made all the difference for their businesses.
“NPMA has been awesome during the crisis,” says David Billingsly, President of American Pest in Fulton, Maryland. “I think the speed at which the NPMA team has moved during such an unprecedented time is amazing. They quickly deployed resources to ensure pest control would be included in the essential services category and really worked hard with their members and state and local governments. Personally, I had a number of issues I brought to them, and they were available and extremely responsive.”
“NPMA, as usual, was there with detailed information about everything from PPE and making sure we were properly classified as essential workers,” says Robert Baker, President of Clark Pest Control in California. “We all owe them a big thanks for that!”
McCauley wholeheartedly agrees. “NPMA did an amazing job of leading from the beginning,” he remarks. “They didn’t hesitate and began immediate support and communication, leaping into action with webinars and educational resources, helping get our industry listed as essential service on a state-by-state basis.”
According to Rottler, the efforts NPMA made early on in the crisis were priceless. “I shudder to think what our business would like had they not gotten out in front of this early on and positioned us an essential industry,” he emphasizes. “They also gave us the talking points and documentation to share with our customers and our employees. Early on, we even had some managers whose spouses were saying you’re not supposed to be at work. So, I’d email them the documentation from NPMA and say ‘Here, read paragraph two.’ It sounds trite, but it was helpful and was critical early on. And it gave us a level of confidence in dealing with our customers and our people.”
McCauley says the most valuable part of NPMA’s response was getting pest management services listed as essential. “The pride that developed among our team because of that is immeasurable,” he says.
“Without NPMA’s help, we would have been lost during this time,” stresses Brush. “We are eternally grateful for their help and look forward to working with them even more in the future.”
By Amy Bell
Photo: WHO IS DANNY/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM