Once again PestWorld lived up to its name it covered PESTS and pretty much represented the WORLD. Certainly delegates came from far and wide. It was held in San Diego, in sunny southern California between 15-18 October and, for those of us travelling from a cold and very wet Europe, the wall to wall blue skies and temperatures in the high 70°F (20°C) was a fabulous highlight.
As ever, PestWorld 2019 attracted a large number of delegates, although in quantity terms fewer than last year when held in Orlando, which always attracts a big attendance and broke all attendance records. Organised by the American trade association, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) the official figures record 2,206 pest professional attendees and a further 1,564 exhibitor personnel, giving a grand total of 3,770 (over 4,000 in 2018).
If involved in any way with pest control on an international stage, this event is a ‘must attend’. Without doubt it lived up to expectations and the number of deals and networking must have been significant, but several of the exhibitors felt the exhibition (see what we spotted and also our photo round up) was less well attended and only mega busy for short periods of time. The formula for the event remains pretty much a constant and having attended PestWorld events for far more years than is wise to reveal, the problem is they all start to merge!
So what is the same…?
The basic format, with one or two exceptions, has remained familiarly the same for years. Like most events around the world, it commences with an opening ceremony where delegates were formally welcomed by the NPMA CEO, in this case, Dominique Stumpf who has now been at the helm for her third PestWorld. In her overview she said that the pest control industry, despite its growth, remains very family-oriented. “NPMA member companies are driven to help others or give advice to peers. This friendly camaraderie is not common in other industries. We are exceedingly fortunate to have it and it’s something I hope we continue to nurture as we grow and expand,” she explained.
Dominique Stumpf, NPMA CEO, welcomed all delegates
PestWorld Broadway style
Her welcome was followed by an address from this session’s sponsor, Bayer and the a glitzy set given by Broadway singers and dancers based on the Greatest Show, where the words of the number had been changed to cover pest control activities. Attendees were then led to the exhibit hall by a mariachi band.
At the start of each subsequent day there is a general session, including some NPMA announcements and award prentations followed by an outside keynote speaker. Like much of the rest of the programme, these are sponsored by one of the large manufacturers who also have their moment in the spotlight to put over their own corporate message.
Richard Montaá±ez with a signature can of Pepsi
Robert Richman extols the dynamics between people
This year the two outside key invited speakers were a little lost on the international audience – although no doubt they were familiar names to US delegates. Both inspirational business speakers, the first, sponsored by Corteva, was Richard Montaá±ez, who leads multicultural sales and marketing across Pepsi’s North American divisions. His is a real ‘rags to riches’ story as he began life working as a janitor at a Frito-Lay plant in Southern California, but developed the concept of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which quickly became one of Frito-Lay’s most successful products.
The second, sponsored by Syngenta, was Robert Richman formerly a culture strategist at Zappos, he founded Zappos Insights, a programme that teaches companies about unique employee culture – basically centred around the dynamics between people.
Following these general sessions come a whole series of very informative concurrent educational sessions. The problem here is, you can bet your bottom dollar, that the two sessions you particularly want to attend are on at the same time!
The exhibition – the star of the show
For a vast number of those attending, the exhibition is the star of the show. With over 230 stands – or booths as they are called in the US – you are hard pressed to get around them all, as the exhibition is not open during the educational sessions. Like all such events, arranged company meetings, networking and drinks in the bar form a core element, especially for international visitors.
What is different…?
Maybe it’s because it’s America, but at no other event attended does it begin with prayers. Also, within the US there is a very strong culture of community outreach and fund raising. So over the years more and more such supportive events have been added to the programme – for example a 5k fun run in aid of Feeding America and new this year, NPMA’s PestWorld Day of Service. This included, stuffing goody bags to assist San Diego’s homeless population, volunteering at one of the local San Diego food banks and, uniquely, PestVets undertaking restoration work on the USS Midway aircraft carrier moored in the harbour.
Attend in 2020
If attending PestWorld appeals, next year’s event is 13-16 October 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee.
A room with a view… overlooking San Diego harbour with USS Midway (top right) where PestVets helped
Looking the other way from the main event hotel. The conference centre is beyond the tower of the Marriott