Ten Questions With a Pro! (AKA: Joining the rat race)
Introducing the third episode of the series: ten questions with a pro. Every other month, I’m interviewing a “pro” to find out what they do, how they do it, and how it helps pest control efforts. Today, we are talking with the phenomenal Sheila Haddad!
1. Give us the quick version of what you do?
My Name is Sheila Haddad and I am currently the Director of Sales for the East and Southeast for Bell Labs with 35 years of industry experience. I oversee several Senior Technical representatives along with covering Canadian sales from Toronto to the East Coast. I am also responsible for several key accounts in the South along with several distributors. I currently serve on the Connecticut Board of Directors in various roles for the past 17 years. This month I began serving on the NPMA board as PWIPM committee chair for 2023/2024 along with Chairing the local CT chapter of PWIPM since 2019. I also served on the NEPMA BOD for over 9 years and was awarded the Bart Eldridge award in 2017 for recognition for outstanding dedication to the New England Pest Management Association.
In 2016 I was voted in as vendor liaison for the Canadian Board of Directors (CPMA) for a one-year term. Last year I took on the role as Chair for a new Golf event in CT joining forces with the Connecticut Environment Council (CTEC), the Connecticut Pest Control Association (CTPCA) along with the Connecticut Chapter of Professional Women in Pest Management (PWIPM). The event was very successful. In October of 2022 at Pest World I was the recipient of the prestigious award, NPMA’s Women of Excellence Award.
Chelle– I asked for brief but you have done so many amazing things, this is the abridged version! You have quite a resume, and I’m sure you left some things out. You are incredible!
2. What got you into this, how did you get into pest control?
I always enjoy being asked how I got into this industry much like many others, it was purely by accident. I applied for a position as a Customer Service Manager at Waterbury Companies 35 years ago and the rest is history. I fell in love with everything, the strong relationships with customers, peers and the bond that everyone had even as competitors was truly amazing. You cannot find this in any other industry that I am aware of. Fresh out of college I started my position as a Customer Service Manager at Waterbury Companies, I thought it would be a temporary position until I could find something I loved. I never thought I could love an industry as much as Pest Control. While working at Waterbury Companies, I was mentored by the late Richard Crowder and the late Kevin Keane. I am ever so grateful for being mentored by both along with their friendships. I am who I am in this industry because of them, and I will never forget them. So here I am today 35 years later and still loving it.
Chelle – I think 95% of us got into this accidentally, I know I did. As for mentors, you’ve been one of mine!
3. What’s one thing you wish people would know or understand better when it comes to pest control?
From a female’s perspective, the jobs in our industry are endless for all genders. I really wish that everyone knew how exciting, friendly, and rewarding our industry is. Once you get into the industry, you’re here for life! If you begin being a tech or work in an office you can easily work your way up to a supervisor, manager etc., your potential is endless. I am truly an example of that. Starting as a Customer Service Manager to distribution being an OSR and Branch Manager to starting at Bell Labs. 20 years ago, as a Technical Rep to where I am today. “Anything is possible in this industry”.
CH – I can’t agree with you more. I started out at a smaller company, and I still feel like there is a lot of growth available to me.
4. What do you think the biggest challenge for pest control companies is right now?
I believe the biggest challenge for Pest Control companies would be finding employees and even in some cases retaining employees. No matter what PMP I visit or chat with at a trade show the first question that they ask is, “Do you know anyone that is looking for a job, I need techs, office help, etc.”. It’s a challenge and a real problem finding “GOOD” help, people who want to work I am constantly trying to recruit people into our industry, you can say I am somewhat of a Pest Control Ambassador. If I hear of anyone looking for not only a job but a great career, I always talk about Pest Control being the greatest industry there is with endless opportunities for continuous growth.
That’s what I’m hearing as well. I’ve been trying to help some of the companies I work with to hire as well. (If you are interested, click here to see the NPMA’s list of open positions!)
5. What changes do you predict in the next 5-10 years?
What I personally see in the next 5-10 years in our industry is that a good number of us will be retiring and we do not have the same number of newcomers entering the industry with the years of experience or knowledge. It’s vitally important that we continue to move forward and mentor along with bringing new employees with new ideas to keep our industry strong. It’s a fantastic industry and we need to get good talent along with new ideas to keep moving forward. There have been numerous conversations lately about how Chat GPT is making its way even into our industry to help us write postings for positions along with AI for other aspects in PMP’s businesses. These will certainly make an impact in our future.
NOOOOO! You can’t retire! I won’t allow it!
6. You work with rodent devices, explain that like you would to a five-year-old.
To explain how our rodent devices work to a five-year-old I believe we need to talk about why we use them so they can understand the tools in our toolbox and how important they are to help us stop rodents from coming into our homes and stores, especially where we purchase our food. Rodents need food, water, and shelter much like we do. When water & food sources are eliminated and the rodents have been excluded from shelter, getting rid of rodents with traps or via bait in bait stations can be necessary. These devices target rodents and create a zone for rodents to be captured or eliminated from the area. The devices we use are to make sure there aren’t conditions present that makes those locations attractive.
I really like how you incorporated the conducive conditions that are SO important when it comes to rodent control.
7. What do you think people get wrong about rodent control?
People need to understand that rodent control is a necessary service because rats and mice can make people sick from numerous aspects such as their urine, being bitten along with be able to carry up to 55 different diseases. The common rodents we mostly deal with are commensal rodents (house mouse, Norway rat, and roof rat) and they are very comfortable living around humans. It is imperative that rodent populations are controlled and eradicated quickly so that we can prevent contamination to our food supply and to protect the public health.
I think that aspect of protection is key. Lots of special interest groups forget how harmful rodents can be.
8. All tools are affected by how you use them. What are your tips for using traps.
I personally love getting the question about tips for using traps. The number one suggestion I give is reading your TRAPS. By reading your snap traps after a catch you can establish if you have a male or a female, adult or juvenile just by reading your catch. As we have been taught by Dr. Bobby Corrigan for every female there is a male one to one ratio. So, now we can read it there is more work to be done. Two females caught we know we have two males still needing to be caught. If we caught a juvenile, we have mommy that is still out there. Read your traps, it is so important for your success. If using snap traps and glue boards combined, my recommendation has always been my Oreo Cookie approach. Back in the day when I was a technical rep, I always discussed this approach (see photo below). Place a snap trap then a glue board and then another snap trap. This way, if the rodent is smart enough to jump, he lands on the glue board or the other snap trap. Always my number one tip for snaps!
This is so on point. Many devices “trap” pests, but if you use them right, you can read the story of what they are telling you. So many people will just empty the trap and move on, they haven’t delved into the data to drill down to those underlying conditions.
9. What new “stuff” is Bell working on that we can look forward to?
Bell is continuously working on new and innovative products for our industry and is committed to making sure that pest management professionals have the widest array of tools for their rodent control toolbox. Our plans continue to expand rodenticide, bait stations, and IQ technology product lines (BST)now and in the future.
That’s great, the more tools we have, the better.
10. If you were any of our pest species, what would you be and why?
If I were any species at all I would be a honeybee. Why would I be a honeybee, you ask, because I bring value and purpose to our world. Honeybees are essential to human survival. Honeybees are important because they are responsible for a great deal of pollination. That pollination is what allows our food crops to propagate. This not only allows us to continue to eat fruit and vegetables, but it also provides the feed necessary for the animals that we consume as well. Not to mention they make honey, which is used as food, medicine, and even in beauty products around the world.
But that’s cheating, that’s not a pest! But in some cases, they can be, so I’ll allow it. 😊
11. Bonus! Anything else to add?
Yes. I want to thank Chelle for the opportunity given to me with regard to sharing my story and perspective on our industry. Thank you.
AWW, thanks! Without all the extraordinary “pro’s” I know, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Thank you for playing along!
This is part of our every other month “10 Questions with a Pro” series. If you have a recommendation, let us know! And if you want help improving your service to improve your profits, click here.
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