UK-based pest management journalist Frances McKim shares her experience of PestWorld 2022, held in Boston, USA.
The professional pest control industry was out in force at this year’s PestWorld 2022 event held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA over the four days of October 11-14, 2022. For most international delegates it was the first opportunity to attend in three years due to Covid restrictions. Here, UK-based international journalist Frances McKim shares her experience of the event.
The organisers, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), extended a warm welcome to all delegates and there was certainly something of a party atmosphere throughout the event. The exhibition was a complete sell-out with 186 exhibitor stands, accompanied by 1,360 exhibitor staff. Add to this over 2,400 registered delegates, 383 of which came from a total of 58 different countries and you start to appreciate the scale and significance of these PestWorld events.
A notable leadership change for NMPA was announced during the event, with Justin McCauley stepping into the role of NPMA president. At 40 years old he is the youngest person ever to hold the position.
The future of the association and the industry seems to be squarely in the hands of the younger generation.
A common problem
The problem of managing to attract and retain quality staff appears to be a global problem, according to Dominique Stumpf, NPMA chief executive officer. “We’re not alone. Every industry is feeling the pinch when it comes to finding people and grappling with defining and living a workplace culture that makes those people want to stay.”
NPMA is working to address the staff shortage in the US via its Workforce Development Program. It is working to break stereotypes, increase pride in the industry and help recruit a new generation of workers – a program delegates from other countries would be wise to examine.
So what was new?
As to be expected, a selection of new products and services were exhibited, but there was a notable absence of major new product launches.
However, it was interesting to spy the preview model of the Mantis Qualis LED insect light trap unit from PestWest. The unit uses LED tubes to give 360° UV coverage and so enhanced fly catch rates. The use of LED tubes in Europe is now widespread, but surprisingly, is slow to catch on in the US. The same product, but known as the Chameleon Qualis, is available in Australia from PestWest Starkeys.
The increasing number of digital products on show fell clearly into two categories: software packages for business management and electronic remote monitoring systems, such as the ActiveSense rodent system from Corteva and Bell Labs’ iQ range of monitoring devices.
Making its global corporate debut was Envu (pronounced “ehn-view”), the standalone company of what was Bayer Environmental Science following its acquisition by Cinven. This was the new organisation’s first large-scale public outing in its new livery.
On the second day of the event, news broke of the industry’s largest ever merger: Rentokil Initial plc had completed the acquisition of Terminix Global Holdings, Inc. This makes the new, combined business not only the largest in the world but also the market leader in North America. Globally, the combined business will cover approximately 4.9 million customers with 57,700 employees.
In further industry news, the Global Pest Management Coalition met and released a set of global standards for the pest management industry prepared by a special global coalition taskforce. This framework for pest management standards will give the Global Coalition members a tool for promoting legislation in their countries and professionalising the pest management industry around the world.
Time to learn
As well as the exhibition, the three days of concurrent educational sessions covering technical and business management topics formed a significant part of the event.
One of the most popular sessions was presented by rodent expert Dr Bobby Corrigan of RMC Pest Management Consulting based in New York. Dr Corrigan stressed that “Pest professionals must be increasingly more resourceful, more innovative and more tech-savvy. They must pursue rodent work with a strong drive towards higher level assessments prior to beginning the work.”
In his review of bed bug treatment options and management procedures, Jeffrey White of White Mantis Consultants shared his view of how Covid has affected the bed bug treatment industry. Whilst social distancing has hugely impacted the flow of bed bugs, the effects appear very regional. In the north-western states of the US, where lockdown measures were highly restrictive, bed bug infestation levels are down 30-50% with some as much as 70%, with sales of bed bug products reflecting this.
Next year’s dates for the diary are October 17-20, with PestWorld 2023 being held at the Hawaii Convention Centre, Honolulu.