Bob and Judy Dold are special, in more ways than one. They’ve both served as presidents of the National Pest Management Association, they run a successful and thriving pest management firm based in Chicago and they manage to maintain a long and happy marriage.
Their life together is intertwined with dedication to the industry, which they’ve demonstrated by giving freely of their time, knowledge and financial resources.
Individually, each has enormous influence in the industry and an admirable history of service. Together, their business expertise, ability to build consensus and genuine interest in the people of this industry make them the ultimate “power couple,” if that were a term they’d accept.
Despite their many achievements, however, both Bob and Judy are modest about their roles and would probably quail at our description. They see themselves as nurturers of small PMP firms, as bridge builders for diverse industry groups and as public spokespersons representing an industry of great traditions and high levels of professionalism.
In fact, their family has a motto: Integrity determines your identity. Their identity as an influential and motivating pair is the story of two different people with lots of determination and common goals.
The College Connection
Bob and Judy met at Denison University in the center of Ohio, but this story is one rooted in Chicago’s pest management industry.
Bob is a child of this industry, following in the footsteps of his father, C. Norman Dold, who served as the third National Pest Control Association (now NPMA) president.
Norman was the general manager of Rose Exterminator Co., which is the oldest pest control company in continuous operation. He also was a founding member of the NPCA. Bob’s father served as owner and corporate general manager of the Rose Chicago business until the late 1950s, when under his direction, Rose divided into several independently owned businesses.
Norman’s influence on Bob is evident in the choices he made early in his career: work from the bottom up at Rose during high school and college to learn the business; study business from the bottom up at Denison and get an MBA at the University of Chicago; serve the industry through its associations from the local to the national levels.
Bob eventually bought out his brother to own Rose’s Chicago business, then grew that operation to its current eight-branch size.
Now, Rose Exterminator includes branches in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Kentucky. Bob’s interest in people and industry politics led him to develop many relationships in the area. He has served as president of the Indiana and Illinois Pest Control Associations, and has participated in planning the Purdue Conference.
He stepped into a firestorm the year he took the helm of NPCA — 1984 — when Executive Vice President Jefferson Keith left amid a flurry of controversy soon after Bob took over. That controversy and other association business problems demanded much of Bob’s time and efforts.
“It was a crisis of integrity, and many members had lost confidence in the association,” he recalls, praising the staff and committee members. “We had to work to bring the association back together.”
Stepping up to the plate in that turbulent year cost Bob dearly, which he modestly explains, “That year, I spent about 180 days on the road. It was harder on my family than on the company. I had good managers there but it was somewhat costly for me.”
Does he regret those sacrifices?
“It was the right thing to do,” Bob notes. “We had to bring the association back together.”
New Agenda for Leadership
Judy Dold’s journey to the NPMA presidency started after Bob served as president, when she entered the business. Her early experience teaching school and natural organizational and people skills helped her learn the business at Rose as their four children (Kelley, Bob, Katie and Kristie) grew older.
When the youngest child was in fifth grade, Judy became actively involved in the business. What started as an interim manager’s slot at Rose’s Northbrook, IL-office 20 years ago turned into an arrangement perfectly suited for her skills.
“I’m still here on this ‘interim’ basis,” Judy says.
She found it natural to apply her skills to the branch management, and Bob and Judy developed separate spheres of work within their organization. He currently serves as chairman of the $5+ million business, while Judy serves as president of the firm, focusing on branch operations.
Judy’s natural penchant for organization and interest in people found an additional outlet as she, too, became active in association service. She became the NPMA’s second woman president in 2001 and travels widely, speaking on behalf of the association and its programs.
Her passion, she says, is helping the small businesses in the industry.
“They’re run by good, hard working people who sacrifice for their businesses and are concerned about their employees,” she adds.
It’s because of these firms that she helped develop the NPMA’s mentoring program, Judy says. The program is designed to bring successful company owners together with those in growing firms, to share expertise in a noncompetitive situation. She believes there are enormous benefits to participating in a mentoring program – both for the mentor and the “student.”
“It’s a win-win situation, and that program has touched more people than I realized when it started.”
Raising the Bar
Ask Bob or Judy what they have learned from their challenging years growing a business or leading professional organizations, and you’ll get a resoundingly positive comment on the importance of teamwork.
“We both really like people,” Judy says, and it’s obvious in their ability to make newcomers feel at ease, maintain long-term industry friendships and get diverse parties to agree on tough issues.
They’ve sponsored receptions at key industry events to bring together PMPs, suppliers and other interested parties. They’ve actively worked to develop young talent within their company and throughout the industry, always focusing on the importance of professionalism and ethics. In this case, the whole has even greater effect than the individual parts.
Judy believes in the importance of giving back.
“I still feel like the new kid on the block after 20 years. I have no issue with picking up the phone and calling people to ask ‘how do you do this?’ They are always so gracious with sharing information and talking with me. I guess subconsciously, that’s been the real catalyst for me with the mentoring issue.”
Bob Dold explains, “Over the years, Judy and I have tried to do things together as a partnership, and it’s been a great partnership. We’re strong on the mentoring program. That’s what it’s all about — giving back to the industry.”