Continuing the trend, this week’s Talking Pest Management interview is with Patrick Vernié, another member of the board of CEPA. In addition to his CEPA role, Patrick Vernié’s ‘day job’ is as a senior stakeholder for Bayer Environmental Science based in Lyon, France. This role involves him in the coordination of Bayer’s activities across Europe, extending to Africa and also Asia. Patrick has been involved within the professional pest control industry for approaching 25 years and has played an active role within CEPA for the last 15.
Patrick begins by explaining how overall the Bayer business is totally based on science and innovation searching for solutions for society at large – in short ‘Health for All: Hunger for None’. Asked how the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected its business, Patrick unsurprisingly says that no-one could have predicted this scenario but industry has had to adapt as best it can. Bayer’s top priority was to ensure the safety of all its employees – to this effect Patrick has been working from home since mid-March. The next priority was to ensure continuity of supply of products for customers. With boarders often closed this proved a challenge getting products to customers, but it also brought home the complexities involved in the supply chain, with components coming from many different places.
With Europe under lockdown, the significance and contribution towards public health of pest control has come to the fore. There is no better time for stakeholders to come together and recognise the CEPA introduced Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). And by stakeholders Patrick emphasises this is not just pest controllers on their own, but also to join forces with customers, regulators and politicians – to recognise the importance of the industry.
As to the future, Patrick predicts the COVID-19 crisis will accelerate and stimulate the changes which were already entering the industry – notably the increased use of artificial intelligence, such as remote working not just for technicians but for managers alike. However, people still remain key. “These are very exciting times for the industry. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate to society, and the world at large, how essential it is. We need the right tools to do our job efficiently. We need to raise the bar on training standards to ensure a high and universal level across the whole of Europe,” he concludes.