Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why Associate?

OK, so I'm not a pest control business owner, technician or pest control salesman. And maybe I don't have a full vote on this issue. But for what it's worth, I wish every honest businessman and technician involved in the pest control industry was involved in a pest control association.

I've always viewed membership in a pest control association as a sign that a company cares about good pest control as much as it cared about making money.  If someone asks me who I recommend to call for a certain pest problem, I steer them to association members.  Belonging to an association, in my mind, is a sign of professionalism.

Maintaining a successful pest control association isn't easy. It means having good volunteers and leaders. Being involved often means extra nights away from home, sitting on a committee or finding time in a busy day to make some extra phone calls or write emails. It may involve rubbing elbows with the competition--even people you may not like that much.  But I believe the payback over the long run can literally be priceless.

Technicians from the Greater Dallas Pest Control Association
setting off  last fall on an annual "Slug A Bug" event to provide
free pest control service to deserving low income families.
I've been especially reminded of the value of local pest control groups recently.  This summer I was privileged to speak at meetings of the Fort Worth, Dallas, east Texas, and Houston area pest control associations. I heard stories of brothers providing support for brothers, parties and bowling events, lobbying efforts, and low income assistance projects.  I saw education taking place through monthly speakers, and I saw good people trying to make their industry something that anyone would be proud to belong to.  And, not least, I saw a bunch of folks who genuinely liked one another and obviously valued their professional friendships.

The Greater Dallas Pest Control Association has struggled with membership some in recent years, but continues to hold their annual Slug-A-Bug event to benefit needy families.  Working with our local People Helping People group, the GDPCA has set a goal to help 60-80 families each year with what is often a sorely needed pest control treatment.  It's an effort to reach out to folks who don't have much, and make the community a better, more caring place.  If you are interested in being involved, they would love if you would "like" their Facebook page and sign up to get involved. The next Slug-A-Bug event is coming soon, September 17, and they are still looking for volunteers.

Members of the Tarrant and Dallas Pest Control Associations
showed their desire to improve technician training with two
generous checks to the Texas A&M Foundation in July.
The Greater Tarrant County (Fort Worth) Pest Control Association blew my socks off last month by making a donation to the IPM Experience House Project, a new venture to develop a hands-on pest control training facility in the Dallas area (more about this in a future post).  In fact, three of the local associations have donated to Experience House, but it's the Tarrant County group that really knows how to party.  They got together with the Dallas group presented Texas A&M Research Foundation with two giant Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes checks.  I've always thought it would be cool to get a giant check like that, and now I have two (I'm still figuring out how to cash them)!  Together the two associations combined for a total of $8,000 donation. This kind of excitement and enthusiasm only happens when a diverse group of folks works together.

I had never attended the Greater Houston Pest Control Association before, but boy are they are organized and well run!  Their board had more active members show up for the pre-meeting meeting than some associations.  Well over 50 people attended the June meeting, and it was a lot of fun. These folks were also the first association to make a donation to the Experience House project, even though most of their business is done a good four hour drive from the future training facility. The only good explanation is that they take an old fashioned pride in their industry.

The East Texas Pest Control Association met at Spring Creek Barbecue (a favorite of mine) in Tyler the night I visited.  President Carl Lane and the leaders of this group are very dedicated to growing their association, and to do so they alternate meeting locations between Tyler and Lufkin, so that their brethren living an hour and a half south feel like a real part of the group. What a nice group of folks; I wish I lived a little closer.

I could talk all day about our local associations, but the picture would be incomplete without mentioning the parent state and national pest management association offices. In Texas our local associations choose to work under the umbrella of our state (TPCA) and national association (NPMA). This gives them political clout in Austin and Washington that they otherwise wouldn't have. And it supports all the good educational and professional services these associations provide. But it all starts at the local level.

I know that some members of NPMA choose not to get involved in their local chapters, but I think they're missing out on the best part of being in an association.  If you haven't yet gotten involved in your local group, I encourage you to try it.  It might not always be easy, but I'm betting it will be mostly good--for you and your community.  You might even figure out you really like some of your competitors after all.

For a list of the 17 local chapters of the Texas Pest Control Association, click here.

No comments: