Lessons from BPCA’s Midlands regional forum

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The BPCA regional forum rolled into Burton upon Trent last Thursday, September 6 and drew a reasonable turnout of forty or so pest professionals. Unfortunately, as is often the case, because these events are free, a number of delegates registered and then failed to turn up.
Regional events from both the main trade associations are currently the ‘in-thing’. The BPCA version takes the form of a half day – a popular recipe for the self-employed who can still earn a few bucks in the afternoon.

The format isn’t quite so popular with the sponsors although you wouldn’t tell from those manning displays on Thursday. But as the popularity of this type of event has grown so too has the time and cost commitment for the sponsoring companies. For them that generally requires an overnight stay the night before and often a long drive back to base in the afternoon. Each company has a turn as lead sponsor meaning they fund the refreshments and on this occasion it was 1env.

 BPCA regional forumSpeakers at the BPCA Midlands regional forum. From left: Abigail Reade, Tree Bee Society; Avril Turner, Killgerm; Kevin Higgins, BPCA; Alex Wade from PelGar; BPCA’s Ben Massey and Jim Kirk from Deadline Products  

Kicking off with bacon butties from 8.15am, full proceedings got underway at the National Brewery Centre, Burton upon Trent, shortly after 9am. BPCA’s Kevin Higgins chaired the event and was the first speaker. His topic, tackling rats in attics and drains, turned out to be a series of reminders and tips based on the complaints received by BPCA from member company customers.

Kevin reminded his audience that whilst they may be used to dealing with rats for their customers have a rat is a traumatic and stressful experience. They feel helpless and they need their professional to do a professional job. Some of the pitfalls members have fallen into included not taking the time to explain what they were doing and failure to provide decent paperwork. Poor site inspections, just wanting to get in and out as fast as possible and put down bait/traps and not sorting out proofing issues were the biggest failures. Kevin said that many complaints were because technicians had forgotten the basic skills; specifically the skills to detect the problem and to proof it out.

Avril Turner from Killgerm gave an interesting presentation on the massive pest management opportunities presented by waste recycling facilities. This is a boom area with the top ten waste companies reporting growth rates in 2017 of between 25 and 44%. If just 1% of recycling waste is food material ‘clinging on’ that’s 10kg of food for breeding flies per tonne of waste. Avril presented some useful practical tips on how to monitor such sites. She highlighted the importance of an integrated approach including physical controls to cover the active face and stored waste rotation so that waste isn’t allowed to fester. In addition to the more standard spray or ULV treatments, she covered two novel products, the larvicide, Neporex and Quick Bayt, a fly bait product which can be rollered on to doors and walls just like an emulsion paint.

BPCA’s Ben Massey provided some excellent marketing tips and in particualr emphasised the need for every business to
identify its three key unique selling points (USPs) and the be able to put those across in a two minute elevator pitch. (For those like me who aren’t sure what that is here’s the Internet definition: An ‘Elevator Pitch’ is a concise, carefully planned, and well-practiced marketing message about your professional self/business that your mother should be able to understand in the time it would take to ride up an elevator.)

His example of different brand offerings was particularly entertaining. Are you supplying:

  1. A sausage sandwich price £2.50;
  2. 3 Lincolnshire sausages in a thick crusty cob with optional sauce price £4.00;
  3. A trio of Packington Farm pork sausages with spiced apple chutney, served with homemade sourdough
    toast price £5.50.

PelGar International’s Alex Wade added some serious science to the forum with a first class explanation of how we arrived at the situation where most second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) have been classified as toxic to reproduction. He went on to provide advice on when and where to use the ‘new’ lower strength 25ppm rodenticide products and, just as importantly, when and where they are unsuitable.

He concluded that the introduction of 25ppm products allows for more environmentally aware treatment strategies to help reduce the risk to non-target animals but that pest professionals need to be mindful of resistance management
and the need to justify product selection.

Jim Kirk from Deadline Products took the audience on a whistle stop tour of the ways of controlling rodents without SGARs. He reminded delegates that whilst SGARs are effective and reliable their availability is still under threat because of their impact on non-target species. The list is long – from traps to proofing and from better through the use of tacking products to alphachloralose and all have a place in a pest professional’s armoury.

Abigail Reade from the Tree Bee Society covered the swarm collection and other services including the training offered by her company whilst Richard Lamb from 1env ran through some new 1env products and special offers for forum delegates.

The last session of the day was from BPCA’s Karen Dawes who outlined the new BPCA registered initiative. This initiative seemed to come as a big surprise to most at the forum. It is billed by BPCA as an individual recognition system whereby individuals working for member companies can have their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) recognised. But isn’t that what BASIS PROMPT does already? Read the feature in the new issue of Pest magazine for our thoughts on this idea.

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