Navy – E4 Petty Officer Third Class (Retired)
HomeTeam Pest Defense, Builder Service Manager, San Antonio – Central Branch
For Stacy Thompson, joining the Navy provided him with a sense of pride and sense of duty. He stands a little taller knowing that he served something that is bigger than himself.
Thompson hails from a family that is willing to serve and sacrifice as he is the 4th generation in his family to serve in the military and his son, 5th generation, is currently active duty and Thompson recently attended his son's graduation in Fort Benning, Georgia.
While serving his country in the Navy, Thompson maintained day-to-day duties aboard the USS Nitro AE-23 and was involved in pilot and navigation of ships movement. When asked what some of his best memories in the military were, Thompson replied, “Seeing all of the different places. Portugal, Spain, and Ireland. The camaraderie that you build with your shipmates. However, not seeing land for four months wasn’t easy.”
Looking back on how his military service prepared him for a career in pest management, Thompson asserted, “Being accountable and responsible. Following through with things that I said I was going to do. The military required me to be on top of my game and to be the best. You carry that over to the pest management industry, and you hit the ground sprinting.”
For Veterans that are transitioning into the pest management industry, Thompson recommends that they, “Keep an open mind. Find something that you really like to do. I don’t feel like I’m going to work every day. I don’t dread my job, and I like what I do. For Veterans coming into this industry, I think you’ll draw the same conclusions. It’s a great industry that you can thrive in.”
Air Force Colonel (Retired)
CFO, McCall Service
Discipline and accountability. Service before self. These are the traits that define David Cooksey, a retired Air Force Colonel, a current member of the NPMA PestVets Committee, and CFO of McCall Service operating in Northern Florida and Southern Georgia.
David Cooksey first learned of his dedication to serving and love for his country from his father who also served and was very patriotic. “My father took great pride in being a good citizen. He taught me to get up, work hard in life, and it will reward you. Protect those who can’t protect themselves,” Cooksey reminisced.
Cooksey has an impressive track record of serving his country, family, and running a thriving business. He has an infinite amount of love for the United States, as evinced by his two stints of military service. Most notably, while he was comfortable in civilian life, had a family, and experiencing substantial success in helping run the family business, Cooksey stepped up to protect our country after September 11th. His decision to go back into the Reserves came after serving seven years of active duty and seven years as a civilian. His post 9/11 stint in the Reserves lasted for sixteen years.
Cooksey’s entry into the military all started when he enrolled in the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1985, graduated in 1989, and transitioned into the role of an Intelligence Communications Officer at Shaw Air Force Base. Only a month later, the First Gulf War started, and Cooksey served under General Norman Schwarzkopf in Saudi Arabia, as the United States and Coalition Forces successfully defeated Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and his nefarious ambitions to invade, annex countries, and disrupt peace in the Middle East. After serving there, Cooksey also was deployed to Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, and Jordan to conduct various exercises with those countries’ air forces. During his 16 years of service in the Reserves after 9/11, Cooksey was stationed at Charleston Air Force Base, held the position of Deputy Group Commander, deployed to Djibouti to support search and rescue missions, and in 2017, achieved the rank of Colonel.
Looking back on his military career, Cooksey looks most favorably on, “The people that I served with and grew really close to in trying times. Especially going through basic training. It’s a unique experience, and there’s nothing like it.” Cooksey also added that he learned a lot about the execution of tasks and how he approached work, “In the military your job is not dictated by the clock. It is dictated by the mission being completed.”
When asked about the advice he would give regarding the transition from the military to the pest management industry, Cooksey asserted that: “Veterans should bring their can-do attitude with them. Service is a part of both the military and the pest management industry. This is a great industry for people who are dedicated to serving others. They will thrive.”
In closing, Cooksey mentioned that his favorite part about working in the pest management industry is, “Being able to work with my family, both immediate and extended family. The way our company and employees interact makes for a great environment. Protecting public health and property and helping people keeps us going.”
Former Navy CAPT (Retired)
AP&G Co. Vice President of Products and Technical Services
Dr. Stan Cope joined the Navy in 1989, five days short of his 35th birthday. He graduated from Swarthmore College 13 years before and continued on to get a degree in medical entomology from the University of Delaware in 1980, and a Ph.D. in public health from UCLA in 1988. Dr. Cope served in the Navy for nearly 24 years and after retirement started work in the pest control industry.
Although his education was in entomology, Dr. Cope said he was a military officer first and a scientist second. However, he said he was given certain unique responsibilities.
“As an entomologist going into the military you’re a science guy,” Dr. Cope said. “You’re in charge of pest control and preventative medicine. (You) go in as a scientist and come out as an operational bug killer—an entomological assassin.”
In the military, Dr. Cope learned many lessons that translated to his future career in the pest control industry. These included how to manage people and how to function well as a leader. He said that communication is a “lost art,” but as a military officer, he learned how to deliver a message effectively.
Dr. Cope also explained some of the beneficial opportunities and skills that the military provides: “In the military, you are frequently thrust into leadership roles earlier rather than later. You learn about managing people and the ins and outs incredibly fast. Leadership and management skills that can propel you in the pest control industry.”
Dr. Cope also used these skills to train and mentor people in entomology and pest management, which he said was the most rewarding part of his post-military career.
“A woman came up to me and said she was at one of my presentations and told me that five minutes in she wanted to be an entomologist,” Dr. Cope said. “It still gives me goosebumps to this day.”
In addition to equipping him with leadership and communication skills, Dr. Cope said his career in the military made him more tolerant, opening his eyes to the “rest of the world.”
He said that it’s easy to spend a lot of time blaming people and that it’s more important to fix problems and move ahead.
“My least favorite seven words are: That’s the way we’ve always done it,” Dr. Cope said. “There’s nothing that we do on a daily basis that can’t be improved upon.”
Although his time in the military taught him many lessons, Dr. Cope said it wasn’t easy to make the transition to the civilian workforce. For Dr. Cope, going from having a steady job to uncertainty was difficult, and in the military, he never had to worry about being laid off.
For someone looking to make that same transition he did, Dr. Cope said he would advise them to begin equipping themselves with the required skills and knowledge well in advance.
“Look at what certifications might be required, maybe a year before you get out, (figure out) what state training you are going to need,” Dr. Cope said. “I would encourage them to attend meetings of their state association and NPMA.”
Former Naval Officer
President of Northeast Division, Orkin Pest Control
Patrick Chrzanowski grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, watching his father, a Vietnam War veteran, work two jobs to provide for Chrzanowski and his sister. Chrzanowski remembers his father coming home late on frigid winter days, ice frozen on his trousers after spending the day in lake-effect snow, telling him, “Son, go to school, so you can use your brain and not your back.” In his career as a Naval Officer and later as a pest control operator, Chrzanowski said he’s learned to use both, taking with him lessons he learned from watching his father.
After high school Chrzanowski was recruited to play football as a defensive tackle for the United States Naval Academy. He was stationed first in Yokosuka, Japan, and served on active duty from 1988 to 2000.
“We worked 18 hour days routinely,” Chrzanowski said of his time in Yokosuka. “As a young naval officer, and having recently graduated from the Naval Academy, this work ethic and demanding schedule fell in line with how I was raised in a blue-collar, hands-on, fix-it-yourself upbringing in northwestern, PA.”
Chrzanowski added that the camaraderie, or Esprit de corps, he experienced in the military was the most rewarding aspect of his time there. For Chrzanowski, working together like a “well-oiled machine,” longer and harder than he thought possible, characterized his favorite memories.
As a leader who worked with people of all different backgrounds, Chrzanowski found this especially true.
“Mixing teams together, different ethnic backgrounds, male and female, southerners, northerners, Texans (yes, they really are their own group), Islanders, folks from out west – you could see the strength in unity,” Chrzanowski said. “And as a leader, you realized there really isn’t anything we couldn’t accomplish.”
It is this same sense of teamwork and working well with others as a leader that marks Chrzanowski’s experience in the pest management industry. In his civilian professional career, Chrzanowski has found that training and developing people is the most rewarding.
In addition to the teamwork component of being a leader in his career, Chrzanowski said he finds great reward in being able to provide for his family, following the example his dad set for him during his childhood.
“I am the proud father of two young men and two young women and the past twelve years have allowed me to provide for my family, even during economic downturns when many friends and family were going through difficult times,” Chrzanowski said. “My children see the work ethic that has been a modeled while working for Orkin, and they in turn are modeling a similar work ethic in school and in the jobs they are pursuing. As a father, this is important for me to pass this on to the next generation of leaders in my family.”
According to Chrzanowski, in 2013 Rollins committed to hiring 1,000 veterans over the course of five years, and in May of this year, the company delivered on that goal, having hired 1,177 veterans in various positions.
He added that the pest management industry is a great fit for those transitioning from the military. He said that the industry embraces standards that are present in the military, including uniforms, career progression, and ongoing training. When asked if he would recommend that veterans join the pest management industry, he responded with a resounding, “Absolutely!”
“The best advice I can give a veteran making the transition from active or reserve duty to full time employment in the private sector is to not sell yourself short,” Chrzanowski said. “Regardless of what your specialty was in the military, you bring discipline, commitment, integrity, and character to the workplace. Employers are looking for motivated self-starters who demonstrate a willingness to work hard, to learn, and to lead.”
Former U.S. Army captain
Managing Director, Field Human Resources, Rollins, Inc.
In 1990, 23-year-old second lieutenant and recent West Point graduate Quentin Misenheimer led a 41-person platoon in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He called the mission a great challenge that led him to learn “a great deal” about himself and his soldiers.
Misenheimer served for five years on active duty, starting as a Military Intelligence Officer and ending his military career in 1994 as a captain. During his time at West Point and throughout his entire career, Misenheimer learned how to lead effectively and stay determined despite challenges. The skills he gained during his military career would be useful to Misenheimer in all aspects of his life, including in his career with Rollins.
“While at West Point, I was forced into a situation my Plebe year to observe various leadership styles from the upperclassmen and then choose which styles to emulate,” Misenheimer said. “I have tried to form my leadership style over the years from the things I liked and thought people would respond best to.”
Misenheimer added that he learned the importance of having a clear mission and communicating that mission well to everyone on the team. Though it has been decades since Misenheimer served in the military, he said members of his platoon still call him “lieutenant” or “sir,” which he said “blows (him) away.” This sense of camaraderie remains a source of pride for Misenheimer when he looks back on his time in the Army.
Misenheimer recalls multiple role models and mentors that have shaped him over the years, including Dr. David Cundiff. Cundiff was his high school class sponsor and guidance counselor during his high school years in Terre Haute, Indiana. When Misenheimer returned from Desert Storm, Cundiff asked him to speak to the graduating class in 1991 about his leadership experience in combat.
For Misenheimer, lessons learned from his military career are always relevant in his every day life.
“We learn in the military that we have to be flexible. We learn to value relationships. We learn the value of creating memories. We learn the value and importance of treating people with dignity and respect,” Misenheimer said. “I appreciate the tough work our military does every day to keep our nation free from its enemies. I appreciate our great country and the opportunities we have here. And I greatly appreciate those people who thank me for my time in the Army when they realize I served.”
After his military career, transitioning to the private sector was not easy according to Misenheimer, and he said he would encourage someone looking to make that transition to seek help and advice, and to take advantage of all the resources available to them. Misenheimer spent time trying out a couple of different careers but ultimately ended up in human resources, where he has worked for the last 20 years. He joined Rollins in January of 2017.
Leading various teams of people in the army prepared Misenheimer for leading teams in the business world and he said the pest management industry is well-suited to receive people transitioning out of the military.
Working at Rollins, Misenheimer said he finds the opportunity to make a difference and how to make life better for the Rollins family most rewarding.
“Our industry has a noble purpose—we protect people’s health and property,” Misenheimer said. “We have a very disciplined approach to what we do, and that is a great match for someone transitioning out of the military.”