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The ELP Experience at NPMA’s Legislative Day       

ELP – Getting Started

Articles written by Christopher Baumann of Schopen Pest Solutions

The ELP Experience at NPMA’s Legislative Day


The first event for the Executive Leadership Program is Legislative Day. This brings our group together in Washington D.C. to go over issues that specifically affect our industry and arms us with the tools necessary to speak to those issues with government decision-makers. Ashley Amidon, NPMA’s Vice President of Public Policy, made sure we were prepared beforehand with conference calls specific to the issues, one-pagers and other information, and a generous offer of her time to role-play conversations and allow for a chance to master the issue before talking to a member of Congress or their staff about it. We fully learned the ins and outs of Pesticide Preemption and why its so important to have a state lead agency working in conjunction with the EPA when making decisions regarding pesticides and their usage at the local level.  

This was a fantastic and intense introduction to NPMA (as this was the first NPMA event that I’ve attended) and the work that it does. Our group sat in on the board meeting which was informative, well run, and fast-paced. There was a lot of information to absorb, and it was refreshing to see different opinions expressed and worked through specifically during the portion concerning committee consolidation and how that might affect issues being heard and responded to. I was able to meet with my mentor, Mike Bullert (NPMA Board Member and President of Big Time Pest Control) and Carl Braun (NPMA Board Member and Owner of Quality Pest Control) a couple of times over the weekend and had great conversations about the state of our businesses and the next steps we are all taking to improve them.

The ELP group was well prepared for the issues that we'd be speaking to in our Hill visits in advance which made it easier to jump into some of the other committee meetings with ease. I was able to sit in on the Business Development Committee, Leadership Networking Council, Public Policy Committee, and Recruitment and Retention Committee meetings. Everyone was welcoming to our presence and showed genuine interest in our thoughts about committee discussions. Michael Smerconish’s talk about political divides and how we got here was thought-provoking. The Luncheon debate with Carlos Curbelo and Jennifer Palmieri was also informative and entertaining.

Being in our Nation’s Capital allowed for some wonderful sightseeing opportunities. The Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Wall were all humbling. I highly recommend the electric scooters for transportation as long as you have a decent sense of balance. Carmine’s is fantastic if you’re looking for a family-style meal. Our group was able to get to know one another while eating some of the best sausage and meatballs I’ve ever had! I’ll admit that my sides hurt from laughing so much.

Hill visits were conducted virtually this year, so these were completed via Zoom meetings after we’d all returned home. As to my state's delegation, this was a great way to touch base with local operators. I was impressed by their enthusiasm and professionalism when speaking to the Hill. Everyone stayed issue-focused with the exception of some mild ribbing of one of our delegates for being a St. Louis Cardinals fan, which is fair criticism and indicative of less-than-ideal character.

I am gassed up and ready to go! This was inspiring and I trust that the rest of our program will be much the same. Shakespeare (my old dog, that I like) and Bukowski (my younger dog that looks like a melting sausage and I do not like) were excited to have me home - I even let Bukowski sleep on the bed.


(Pictured left - ELP students and NPMA staff at Legislative Day. Pictured right - Legislative Day Board meeting with lunch.)

ELP – Getting Started


I first learned about NPMA’s Executive Leadership Program by falling into a rabbit hole on the website and ending up on the ELP page. As I read more about the program, I got more and more interested. Seeing that several industry heavyweights like Jeff King of Pest Rangers, Carl Braun of Quality Pest Control, and Courtney Carace, ACE of Pest-End are past participants of the program really solidified my interest.

I spoke with Peter Schopen, owner of Schopen Pest Solutions in McHenry, IL (and my boss!), about the program and asked for his feedback. As usual for the owner of a pest control company, his first question was “What’s it cost?”. Being able to tell him that the only monetary cost to our company would be our usual annual dues to NPMA put that potential objection to rest. The only true cost to our company would be my time. Time spent at NPMA events, on conference calls with other program participants, working on ELP projects, and committee assignments are all it takes to be involved. NPMA subsidizes the rest with WorkWave’s generous sponsorship of the program. Most meals, lodging, travel, and incidentals are reimbursed or paid for by NPMA. Books that are part of the curriculum are included as well.

The ELP requires attendance to at least two of three events each year over the two-year duration of the program. It also requires monthly conference calls that serve as introductions to industry concerns and mini-training sessions on topics such as how to effectively serve on a committee, executive etiquette, and public speaking. We also discuss required readings as part of these calls with Gino Wickman’s Traction, Attention Management by Maura Nevel Thomas, and From Technician to CEO by Daniel Gordon included in this class’s curriculum.

After speaking with Pete and General Manager Wendy Sepsey, I sat on whether or not to apply. As I pondered what it meant to be an executive and a leader, I realized more and more that I needed the network of support and development that a program such as this would provide. I also came to the conclusion that my company would benefit greatly from the skills that I would master, the network of industry professionals that I would develop, and the opportunities to develop our business in a sustainable manner. I HAD to apply. So, I started gathering the information requested on the application, including at least two letters of recommendation, a short video, as well as other information the nominating committee requests to review applicants. I fully submitted my application hours before the deadline. And then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Ok, it felt like a long time but was really just a month after the application deadline when I received the email with the good news that I was chosen as a member of the Class of 2022! My welcome kit arrived a week or two later with a bevy of NPMA swag including some fantastically stylish and comfortable PPMA socks (worth applying to the program for alone!), a WorkWave travel mug, several books needed for the program, and a binder with program highlights and necessary information compiled by program co-liaison Jillian Gardner.

While it still didn’t seem real, we scheduled our first conference call, got an email with information regarding setting up travel to Washington D.C. for Legislative Day, and got our first hint at the focus of Legislative Day – Pesticide Preemption.  As NPMA’s press releases started getting shared on social media and our class’s profiles were loaded onto NPMA’s website, it cemented that this is, in fact, real.

(Pictured - NPMA Swag Bag gifted to ELP students)