49 Langarans

49Langaran

Joseph Abercrombie

Langara Alum | Sustainability Innovator

When Joe Abercrombie moved from his home province of Alberta to attend Langara College in Vancouver, he figured he’d better pick up some part-time work to help pay for school.

He had years of experience working at his uncle’s wildlife control business back home and, despite being overqualified, decided to take a pest control technician job in the city. His first assignment was a house that had a heavy rat infestation.

“I took a walk outside and the place was riddled with holes,” Abercrombie remembers. “It was obvious the holes were the problem, so I looked at the guy who was supposed to be training me and asked, ‘We’re here to fix those, right?’”

Not quite, Abercrombie was told. Instead, the trainer said to put on his gloves, fill up poison stations and lay them out next to the holes.

“I was blown away,” Abercrombie said of the instructions.

He said the trainer went on to tell the homeowners that they would be billed monthly until they didn’t see any more rats inside their property, at which time the company would quote them on sealing up the house.

“That’s completely backwards to me,” he said. “That’s treating the symptom. Maybe you’re going to kill a rodent, and if you do it’s going to die in your structure. It’s obvious — you have to fix those holes and then deal with what’s left. Stop the flow.”

Abercrombie quit that day, only to find out that other companies in the city were the same. The “poison slingers,” as he calls them, were perpetuating the myths that customers can’t get a permanent result and that relying on poison to “control” the population is the only economical option.

“The industry standard is essentially to neglect the root cause in order to turn your wildlife conflict into a source of recurring revenue at your expense and at the environment’s,” he said.

So he got a loan, bought a truck and founded Humane Solutions Inc., a sustainable, innovative wildlife management company. By addressing root causes, such as filling holes in a house, he has grown a team of internationally qualified, human-wildlife conflict specialists and wildlife technicians. Over the past several years they have developed innovative services for all common pests, as well as high-profile wildlife concerns, helping everyone from homeowners to business owners and municipalities while earning nothing but five-star reviews.

“Instead of poison we use humane traps. Every rodent we control we physically remove,” he said. “We provide monthly reports with what we call ‘CatchData,’ making them unique to the industry. Customers get to see the total number of rodents caught, cost per rodent, and trend over time in terms of expenditure and catch.

“With that data we modify customers’ programs and make small changes. The idea is to get customers a permanent result and ultimately lower their pest control budget.

“That runs completely contrary to the industry standard globally.”

Humane Solutions Inc. is an eco-friendly wildlife pest control company, but at its core, Abercrombie said, is innovation.

For example, he has also developed a low-labour, humane rodent control system that is meant to directly compete with the poison industry and scale the CatchData methodology globally. He recently secured partnership and the system is about to move into the development stage.

Using his cutting edge company as a catalyst, he intends to come up with more creative solutions to serious ecological problems in the future.

Courtesy of Black Press Media

49 Facts — NO. 3

A stone wall that stands along Oak Street and West 12th Avenue in Vancouver is a remnant of the original King Edward School and Vancouver City College.

Meet more 49 Langarans.

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    Rana is the President and CEO of Blue Lagoon Resources Inc., a mineral exploration company focused on the acquisition, exploration, and development of properties for the mining of gold and other minerals. He is the Founder of the 100 Year Journey, a community project committed to preserving the stories of the South Asian pioneers that helped build Canada. In 1993, he founded and published Mehfil Magazine, the first full-colour Canadian South Asian lifestyle magazine. Rana is the former Chair of the BC Open Learning Agency and was the Executive Vice President at RTN Stealth Software. He was the President and CEO of Musgrove Minerals Corp and Chairman of the Board and CEO of Continental Precious Minerals.

  • Dave Lidstone

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    Retired Employee | Maths & Stats Advocate

    Dave was an Instructor for the Mathematics and Statistics department at Langara for 34 years. He served many roles in the department, including Assistant Department Chair from 1988–1989, Coordinator from 1994-1997, and Department Chair from 1997–2001. He pioneered the use of computers to enhance calculus instruction and developed Calculus I and II with computer explorations to aid students in using computers for studying and practicing mathematics. He also developed the Math for Elementary Teachers course, introducing a capstone project, the Math Fair, making the strategies for teaching mathematics come alive for students. He expanded the services of the Math and Stat Activity Centre by integrating peer tutors with the existing practice of faculty tutors. Dave is a long-standing member of the Canadian Mathematics Education Study Group (CMESG), a national organization for the promotion of mathematics education. He sat on the executive committee between 1995-96 and 2012-2014 and co-led study groups in 2005, 2011, and 2014.

  • Gerda Krause

    Gerda Krause

    Current Employee | Science Educator

    Gerda is the Dean of Science at Langara. She started at the College in 1977 as a Biology Instructor and has gone on to take on roles of ever increasing responsibility, including Biology Department Chair, Math & Sciences Division Chair; Education Council Chair. From her contributions to the Langara Academic Plan process; one of the founders of the 49 Women in Science giving circle; a champion for the creation of the Langara Retirees group; and her committee work as a member of the BC Council on Admissions and Transfer, as well as countless other committees, Gerda has left an indelible mark on Langara. Outside of the College, she is an active community volunteer for education and social justice causes; volunteering her time to run girls’ clubs for local Mennonite Churches; assist transition house residents to access post-secondary education; and do committee work on the bi-national (US & Canada) Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary Board. Gerda holds a Bachelor of Science and a Masters in Botany from UBC.

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