I can see it now, little oh me pulling into the parking lot of the state of the art facility and instead of following the “deliveries around back” sign my spot would be right up front and maybe even have an awning. I would walk through the front door and immediately be greeted by Sally the cheery receptionist, “Good morning Mr. Schappert, would you like some coffee? As I make my way to my corner office employees fawn all over me and welcome me with open arms. I’ve always thought this would be great place to work but I had no idea everybody would be so happy. I guess it’s logical because they’ve been around since the late 1940’s and their B&G hand pump sprayer is about the most reliable tool ever known to any pest control operator. Who wouldn’t love coming to work everyday knowing you’ll have zero complaints and the quietest repair shop in town. Still I am the CEO for the day and I do have one mission to accomplish before my shift is done.
In my office I’m met by both the National and International sales reps., they both have big grins on their faces as they hand me the last quarters sales figures. I quickly glance through the pages making it look like I know what I’m doing and putting the books down I ask why our sales are down in the Bahamas’? With a wink I tell them they both need to leave right away and take a week to get that straightened out. I follow them out the door and I head down the hall towards the 85,000 square foot manufacturing shop. I’m looking for the design room of the hand held pump sprayer because I have one goal for the day but I’m at a loss of where it could be in this huge facility,
I stop in the repair area and find my employees sweeping, dusting and other important repair stuff. I ask them whens the last time they had a B&G come in with a problem and they scratch their heads and then they recall–“oh, back in 05 we had that 2 gallon unit that got ran over, man that was a mess and it took over 3 days to put that back together” they say almost relieved that they could think of at least something. I smile because I knew what the answer was going to be already, I have two sprayers that are probably 20 years old and never had an issue. I ask them for directions to my destination and hand each repair person tickets to the Caribbean, thank them for their hard work and head out the door. Down the very long hall I came to the innovations center and found the door locked but they quickly open it when they hear it’s me. I still have to sign a confidentiality letter so I really can’t tell you what I saw but I can say they were pretty happy with what they were working on and when I gave them their well deserved vacation bonus they were almost sad that they would be away from this exciting project for a week. Again I asked for the design room for the handheld B&G pump sprayer and went about my way determined to change just one thing on the sprayer I love so much.
I wandered through what looked like part factory and part industrial laboratory and was just amazed at how far things in pest control had come from the days of Bill Brehm and George Gilmore. They were the builders of the first air compressed pest control sprayers and their model hasn’t changed all that much in many many years. Still being CEO I do have just one issue and as I hand out all expenses paid tickets to each employee I find I get all sorts of mixed directions as to where the design room is for the hand held B&G pump sprayer. No one seems to know and most thought that department was done away with back in the 60’s.
My last envelope went to an old janitor I found dusting off the boxes filled with repair parts for the B&G sprayer, “Gotta do this every week since they don’t use em that much” he said in a low even tone. He was filled with knowledge about the company and had been a faithful employee for many years. he said he could remember the days when handheld pump sprayers were all they sold and just about all that any professional pest technician ever used. “Now they got all these fancy machines and gadgets, things have really changed since I started here.” I could hear in his words that he had a soft spot in his heart for that good old B&G sprayer just like I do and I think he wished that’s all the company still ever made. To my delight he knew right where the design room for the B&G hand held compressed air sprayer was and took me right to it.
The name on the door was faded and it creaked as I opened it and there at a bench sat a very old man with his head on his arms taking a nap. He was somewhat startled when I tapped his shoulder but he was immediately glad to see me. There were old blueprints and drawings strewn about and B&G parts of every sort all across this huge and cluttered table. “Did you get the approval for me to work on a new design” he asked his voice filled with hope. I didn’t want to shatter his dream seeing how much it meant to him so I told him yes but not for the whole thing, just one part. Somewhat dismayed but at least happy to have something to do he listened as I explained what I thought could be improved. “You know parts 22 and 23 of the trigger assembly?” I said in an authoritative voice that I’m sure he saw right through. “Oh yea” he retorted, “That’s the Screw housing and Trigger screw, what about it?” I explained to him since these sprayers never seem to break down that these screws become locked in place by the years of being exposed to moisture, chemicals and just being in all sorts of different messy situations. The screw heads actually get worn down and and since they are SLOTTED they are next to impossible to get enough of a grip on with a screwdriver to unscrew them. “I have had to change out a few triggers in my time I told him and when I apply that much force the blade of the screwdriver slips and digs right into my other hand.” I showed him my wound I had from a recent episode and he put his finger to his the side of his nose and seemed to go deep in thought. By now I was so curious that I just had to ask, “With such a great sprayer and every part so well thought out, why did you decide to make and keep these screws slotted when a hex or phillips would have been so much better?”
Just as the old man began to speak a loud bell rang throughout the plant. “Quitting time” he said and he grabbed his lunch box and coat and disappeared through the faded open door. My one day as CEO was over and as I walked through the now quiet plant I was still in awe of all the great products I saw. I ‘ll always use this near perfect tool that hasn’t changed that much over the years but I guess I’ll never know the answer to my question and as I pull my peeling band aid back over my cut I hand the security guard my badge and walk out the front door, get into my bug truck and drive away. Although I didn’t get my answer it still was a great day seeing all the new things this pillar of the pest control industry was now making. It all started d however with a hand held pump sprayer that has stood the test of time and perhaps won’t change for another 50 years. Well maybe we can get just one thing changed. I didn’t even get a chance to tell them of my idea, they could have named the screw the ‘Jerry’s got a screw loose’, —kind of fits doesn’t it?