World’s biggest pest event lives up to its name

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Some 3,000 pest management professionals gathered in Seattle, Washington, USA from 18 to 21 October 2016 for PestWorld 2016. This annual conference and exhibition is billed as the biggest in the world and it definitely lived up to its name.

PestWorld is organised by the USA’s National Pest Management Association (NPMA). Whilst there is still a North American focus to the educational and technical sessions, the exhibition and the many commercial meetings held alongside the event, make it a truly global occasion.

Delegates and exhibitors had travelled from all points of the globe – the Far East, the Middle East, South America and Australasia as well as from many European countries, including a large contingent from the UK.

The event benefits from a critical mass that we just don’t achieve in Europe where individual countries stage their own pest management events; a necessity to accommodate the different languages of Europe. In North America, where English is the common language, there are no such barriers. Of course, the English does take some getting used to, with exhibitors occupying booths, not stands and delegates bumping into each other on the sidewalk, not the pavement. It was also important to remember to order a small take-out coffee – the large one was simply enormous!

Size brings benefits
The benefit of scale was clear to see in the general sessions. The first of these on Wednesday 19 October was sponsored by Bayer and included the expected ‘welcomes’; first from Alex Altizer, incoming president of the local Washington State Pest Management Association and then from the relatively recently appointed chief executive officer for NPMA, Dominique Stumpf. The sponsors also got time on the presentation platform.

So far, apart from the size of the audience, you could be at any pest management gathering. But then the opening general session moved on to a demonstration and presentation from ‘The World Famous Pike Place Fish Throwers‘.

We’re not sure which part of the world they are famous in, but it certainly isn’t Europe and the relevance of the session was somewhat tenuous.

The opening was rounded off with a lively performance from the Seattle Seahawks Blue Thunder Drumline, who then led delegates from the conference hall down to the exhibition for its official opening.

A different type of speaker
The next morning, Wednesday 20 October, it became even clearer that the scale of PestWorld allows the organisers to hire a very different type of speaker to those encountered at smaller events.

Jim ‘the Rookie’ Morris told his heart-warming and often amusing story, which had been turned into a major Disney movie starring Dennis Quaid back in 2002. Jim’s message is essentially one of never giving up on your dreams – a lesson he learned as a high school teacher from his students.

As a young man he was a fast track minor league baseball pitcher but his dream of making the big time was shattered by serious injury.

Eleven years later he had become a science teacher and school baseball coach. He inspired the school’s previously unsuccessful team to win their league by believing in themselves and going for their dream. The team however set him a challenge – if they won he had to try for his dream again. At 35 he succeeded in becoming a rookie pitcher for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

An even higher profile speaker
Seattle is the home of many successful and well known businesses – Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks are headquartered here, so, perhaps unsurprisingly, the third general session on Thursday 20 October featured an even higher profile speaker.


PestWorld logo   PestWorld 2016 opened in Seattle on 18 October and ran for four days

PestWorld fish throwingPestWorld is different. NPMA president-elect Bryan Cooksey was persuaded to take part in the Pike Place Fish Throwers demonstration

PestWorld drummersEntertainment was provided by the Seattle Seahawks Blue Thunder Drumline

PestWorld Jim MorrisJim ‘the Rookie’ Morris told his story which can be summed up as ‘never give-up on your dreams’

Robbie Bach, the man responsible for Microsoft’s X-Box talked about how to not just manage change but to instigate and embrace it. The lessons for all industries were plain to see. The session was sponsored by Syngenta.

PestWorld audienceWith some 3,000 delegates attending PestWorld, the general sessions were packed

Plenty of choice
As well as the general sessions there were a whole host of concurrent seminars to choose from in the educational programme. These ran from 13.30 to 17.30 on 19 and 20 October. On Friday 21 October there were five themed programmes, each running from 11am to 15.30 such as the NPMA Rat Academy Track, the Emerging Pest Management Technologies Track and the Digital Marketing Track.

PestWorld Seattle by RattlhedSeattle, the home of many high tech businesses, was the venue for PestWorld 2016

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