Contributing within the Pest Control Industry
Last month, the San Diego Chapter of the Pest Control Operators of California held their annual San Diego Padre Night / Tailgate Party. It was a great opportunity to go across company lines and just have fun with other pest control operators, managers and workers.
For my own staff at Hearts Pest Management, it was a great early season break. We had a productive spring and this was an opportunity to show the staff some deserved appreciation. It also gave me a chance to meet the families of new staff members.
The folks who put this together each year deserve a lot of credit, Gary Atkins, from Water Tech Ag Supply and P.C.O.C. board members – usually the same volunteers year in and year out. It would take pages to list all the ways they have volunteered during their lives. These are people with service in their blood.
One pest control manager was briefing me about his upcoming AIDS LIFECYCLE: Ride to End AIDS bike trek that would take him from San Francisco to Los Angeles. More recently, he’s been keeping his supporters updated daily on his adventure bicycling down the coastal highway starting in the early morning. I was fascinated by a story he shared about a community along the route that in past years was very antagonistic toward the AIDS cyclists and how attitudes in that community were changed by reciprocal gestures to help with the struggles in this community.
Service Beyond the Imagination
The most bizarre part of the tailgate party at Qualcomm Stadium was seeing an army of families carrying brooms and dust pans. (My kids tell me not to do things potentially embarrassing or awkward, but I did it anyway). With unquenched curiosity, I went over to one family and asked them, “How do the Chargers get such avid fans that they are willing to clean the stadium and parking lot?” Mind you this was no ordinary cleaning. These folks were removing gum from the concrete!
The answer was unexpected and really impressed me. These families were attending the Jehovah’s Witness Convention at Qualcomm Stadium the following week. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate our many religious holidays that are secularly celebrated by even non-believers. But the Witnesses are very serious about their conventions (which have been held up in court as holidays for which employers must allow time off). Continuing, the Witness told me, “It was an important obligation of theirs to leave the stadium as good, if not better than when they came.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all left a trail in our lives marked by the ways we improved the lives of others, (most importantly, our family members, who are often neglected or abused), extending to communities and organizations in need.
In San Diego, I often come in contact with young men and women in military service. And then there are always the police officers I meet in the local coffee shops. Not failing to remember how these fine individuals risk their lives regularly in the course of work, I always give them the famous line given to all officers in the morning pep talk from Baltimore’s Homicide: Life on the Streets, “Be careful out there!” and I add “Stay safe.”
Donating Time vs. Donating Money
For most of my early life I volunteered extensively, from wheeling non-ambulatory military hospital patients to church on Sunday mornings to volunteering my farm labor in Israel. As the kids grew up, I was active in community politics, but regretting that I wasn’t more active in general community volunteer drives. Still, working full time while raising two children in a two earner family involved more time than one could imagine. If I could change one thing, it would be to have had the family involved helping others in some way, each and every week.
With the creation of Hearts Pest Management, Inc. and its early struggles and growth, I became less active in the community. An important goal beyond the primary task of company survival, was to improve the lives of my employees. In this manner, I have continued to give back. Now, as the company prospers, it feels really good inside to give more financially. Without mentioning names, I see several companies in the region who lend their name to botanical societies, university foundations and many other non-profit organizations. It’s easy to find a cause worthy of your contributions. And it feels darn good to open ones’ wallet for these causes.
As an activist teenager, I used to scuff at the elders who gave their money and not their sweat. But now I realize it is part of the natural course of life that as we mature we have less time and more capital – hopefully. It’s the younger generation that gets out in front of causes, while the older generation does their best to financially back those noble efforts.
Without preaching, I hope and trust that as company owners and managers, we do what we can to contribute in some way to make the lives of others better. You can do that in your communities, in professional organizations and in your companies. There is nothing more important than operating your companies with wisdom, so you can continue to provide yourself and others with paychecks. God knows, our economies need people who are employed. Do go beyond those paychecks. Let your folks know they are appreciated and find ways to provide “servant leadership.”