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30 May 2022

Interview: Between two presidents

Interview | PPC107 June 2022

At the time of writing, BPCA is saying goodbye to one president and introducing a new one. At PestEx, PPC caught up with then President Phil Halpin and President-Elect Chris Cagienard.

between two presidents interview phil halpin chris cagniard BPCA PPC107

PPC: Phil, congrats on coming to the end of three years of being BPCA’s president. What’s it like being in the top seat?

Phil Halpin: It’s gone by so quickly. As a member, you never realise how much goes on behind the scenes. I thought I’d be a vice-president for a few years before moving to president. But when Tom Holmes left the industry, suddenly it was thrust upon me!

I had some great support. Alan Morris from Bayer, Mark Williams from Ecolab on the Board, and Lorraine Norton from the Staff team were fantastic supporters.

My first piece of advice for Chris is to use your Staff team really well. They’re so knowledgeable; Lorraine has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the Association!

PPC: Chris, why did you decide the time was right to go for the president role?

Chris Cagienard: Coming from the vice-president role, there is an expectation that you need to move forward.

From my time on the Servicing committee and then on the Board, I agree with the Association’s goals. Driving professionalism is good for business. It’s good for small-to-medium-size companies like mine; it’s good for those smaller members – all of us.

The industry’s professionalism is what will protect us in the years to come. As we raise standards and create a slightly higher bar to entry, we protect ourselves from the shifting tides.

Plus, I don’t think we can complain about what we get if we’re not involved in making it happen. BPCA is a good thing for our industry, and it’s rewarding to be a part of it.

I have some big shoes to fill – Phil makes being president look effortless. I think we all look to him for leadership.

PH: That’s nice to know!

CC: It’s reassuring that Phil will still be around as our immediate past-president. With our Officers team of Mike Ayers and Mark Williams, and Martin Rose-King joining us, we can ensure that the Board carefully considers the challenging work we have ahead in our strategy.

I think our work today will help to define the industry tomorrow. 

PH: I think we’re in a really good place right now compared to, say, five years ago. We do have a louder voice.

CC: That’s before my time on the Board – I don’t have any experience of what it was like before.

PH: We never had a public affairs strategy. We weren’t having regular conversations with politicians or government departments. We weren’t holding events in the Houses of Parliament like we are tonight.

Ian Andrew is a great leader in this space. And as president, it’s great to be working alongside a strong CEO.

CC: That’s certainly part of why I want to step up as President because Ian and his Staff team are all pulling in the same direction. 

I think we’re in a really good place right now compared to, say, five years ago. We do have a louder voice.

Phil Halpin, BPCA President

PH: It’s a great time to be a part of BPCA and an excellent time for me to pass over the torch.

You were almost earmarked as President, and you certainly are present in the industry – with your articles in PPC and Pest magazines you’re everywhere at the moment!

CC: I’m not someone that wants to inject myself at the front of the room – I’d be happy at the back! But I really want to encourage the membership to engage more.

For someone like me, who runs a small company in Scotland, to help steer the whole industry and guide the decision making... I think it shows it is OUR industry. We can do anything if we put our minds to it. 

If I can get involved – then the rest of the membership can do it too. 

PPC: That’s a good point for context - you’re both business owners and member volunteers of the Association. No one is paying you to drive down from Scotland or up from Berkshire. There are nearly 60 member companies currently giving up their time - again unpaid - to help run the Association. 

PH: It’s been really rewarding. I encourage anyone reading this to get involved. You might be concerned that you’d be out of your depth, but start by joining a committee.

You’re with like-minded members who already share a passion and ambition to grow your businesses and be professional.

Now we have four committees aligned with the strategy – so those committees are delivering the work of BPCA more than ever before.
You only have to think of BPCA Registered. It started at the Servicing committee, then was considered by the Board, costed out, and launched by the Staff team.

That’s real change straight from the membership.

CC: From my time on the Servicing committee, seeing something like BPCA Registered being developed was probably the biggest hook. 
I don’t like the options we had before, and now we’ve come out the other end with a system that is more than ‘just another option’ – it’s far more supportive to technicians.

There are more options for learning, more opportunities to engage, and they can take it as far as they want. It’s not a box-ticking exercise.

PH: BPCA Registered has driven so much of our training. Think of all the resources we have now because of BPCA Registered – online learning and webinars. They’re almost the consequence of BPCA Registered. 

CC: I got involved with BPCA initially because I wanted to see what was going on in the industry – and that in itself was very rewarding because of the friendships and the personal development.

But when we created real-world change for members – it made it feel like we can make the industry we want rather than us having to deal with what we get.

It does beg the question: what else can we achieve?

Yes, like PPC said, there is a cost in terms of time, travel, and making the commitment – but it’s paid back in spades; our teams see that we’re interested – they see that we take it seriously.

Getting involved directly correlated with my business going into a massive growth stage – not because of any cronyism – it was just our people took it more seriously.

PH: Yes, same. You raise the bar, and your technicians say, “Hey, hang on a minute, we’re a big part of this industry. We’re at the forefront.” Pinning their name to the flag, so to speak.

CC: I’m worried it sounds a little sinister, like we’ve inflicted ourselves on the forefront of the sector, but honestly, I want all my peers to do the same. 

One professional company to another – we’re not a threat to each other. It’s the underbelly of the market that is the threat.

They put our toolbox at risk. They drive prices to an unsustainable point, where professionalism is absent, and standards are low. We’re already cheaper than anywhere in Europe, and we need to reform.

Especially with price increases and salaries increasing because of inflation (and they should), we need to reform and professionalise to thrive, flourish, and be sustainable. 

PPC: Phil, you’ve had an exciting presidency, having seen us through a pandemic, Brexit, bird licence reforms and now attacks on glue traps. Chris, you’re likely to have just as an interesting time with an impending recession, and more attacks on our tool kit. It feels as if there are more eyes on pest control than ever before. Is that a daunting task? 

PH: It has been exciting. This was a new space for BPCA.

We’ve found ourselves right at the forefront and leading by example as these things happened. BPCA issued advice quickly to members and non-members during the pandemic, which was well-received when everyone else was quiet. 

...we see a route through these halls of power; it shows we have some control. But we need all members to get involved in having our voices heard.

Chris Cagienard, BPCA President-Elect

CC: As somebody who grew up in deepest, darkest Ayrshire, going to events in Parliament and meeting Ministers is a little surreal, but it does show our voice is present. I didn’t think we’d get traction on these things just a few years ago. 

But now, we see a route through these halls of power; it shows we have some control. But we need all members to get involved in having our voices heard. 

PH: And that’s always the challenge. We’re good at keeping everyone informed, but when it comes to engagement and them stepping up, perhaps not so much?

CC: Yeah, there’s no direct financial gain, but there is an indirect financial gain associated with professionalism and the trust that builds with your customers.

I encourage anyone reading this who may think they’re too insignificant to get involved, from a one-person operation to a larger company, your voice can AND SHOULD be heard. 

Got a question for Chris?

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