Licence to kill

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 April, 2007, 12:00am

Chu Chi-wai, service manager at Rentokil Initial (HK), says all he needs is a smile from a customer to make his day

I started working as a pest control technician at Rentokil Initial (HK) 13 years ago. Every morning I come to the office and there are always job orders on my desk.

As the head of the pest control service team I do not always need to go to the customer's site to do the inspection. This is generally done by our salespeople. They will conduct a thorough inspection at the customer's site and list all the information, including type of insect and an estimated number of them, so that we can decide the right kind of treatment to use.

I then have to allocate the right amount of manpower based on the size of the site. For example, a shopping mall would normally require a full team of four technicians.

If the situation requires fumigation service, which means a lot of smoke being released during the operation, my teammates will need to co-ordinate with the management office on the operation of smoke detectors.

If I am eliminating termites for a sizeable company I will assign two teammates to drill holes in the infested area so that my colleagues can pump the chemical into the holes to kill the pests. It is rare for a job to be carried out by just one technician.

I always make sure the protection outfits are in good working condition for the safety of my teammates and myself during work.

There are two types of protective gear - one is for a normal pest control service for restaurants, offices and shopping malls, the other is exclusively designed for working with beehives.

It includes an outfit that covers the body from head to toe and a mask that prevents us from inhaling hazardous chemicals.

When I arrive at the customer's site the first thing I do is explain what we are going to do and how we will do it. This keeps the client fully informed of the procedures. I then seek the consent of the customer before we get started.

Customers usually want to know the type of pests infesting their premises and seek advice on how to keep insects from coming back after the treatment is done. Our training enables us to answer their questions professionally.

All the technicians at my company are required to attend internal and external training programmes whenever necessary. I attend the external training provided annually by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, where experts share with us the latest pest control methods and technology, and their knowledge of different insect species and the threats they may pose to human health.

Our field biologists regularly conduct in-house training to update and remind us of the personal safety measures and hygiene standards we need to heed when we perform a job.

I always try to use fewer pesticides or chemicals for each treatment, but have not been able to achieve my objective. I understand this cannot be achieved quickly but I am convinced that one day the integrated pest management methods will be widely used by most pest control technicians to keep chemical pollution at the lowest level possible.

I am not fastidious when it comes to job satisfaction. A nice smile and a simple thank you from my customers will make my day.