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. 4

In 1978, Langara established a relationship with Takushoku University in Tokyo, Japan, which has become one of the longest running Japanese-Canadian educational partnerships in history. Over 800 students have participated in a study abroad experience through the program.

Meet more 49 Langarans.

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    Retired Employee | Interdisciplinary Educator

    Barbara was an instructor and coordinator in the Langara Interdisciplinary Studies department and taught in Canadian Studies and Women’s Studies. She was an exemplar of engaged pedagogy and inspired students and colleagues through her extensive work in anti-racism, community development, human rights, and international development. A recent manifestation of this long-term work was Langara’s dynamic celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21, 2019. Barbara holds degrees in nursing, education, and social work, and has received many awards and accolades for her work in the community, including the Rosemary Brown Award for Women in 2005 and the Development Education Award in 1994. She was also an Election Observer at the First National South African Elections in 1994. She has maintained close ties to Langara and is a beloved elder and mentor to many.

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    Kathryn Shaw

    Current Employee | Artistic Director

    Kathryn has been the Artistic Director of Langara’s theatre arts program Studio 58 since 1985, a program she first joined as an instructor in 1974. For over 40 years, she has directed productions and taught acting across Canada. Under her leadership, Studio 58 has achieved a national reputation as one of the top professional theatre training programs in Canada. In 2010, Kathryn was listed by The Vancouver Sun as one of BC’s 100 Most Influential Women. The same year she received the Career Achievement Award from the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance and the ACCC Bronze Medal for Excellence in Teaching. In 2005, Kathryn was elected into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame and received a star on the sidewalk in front of the Vogue Theatre on Granville Street. She was the recipient of the 1996 Sam Payne Award given by UBCP/ACTRA in recognition of “humanity, integrity, and the encouragement of new talent.” Kathryn has served as the Festival Adjudicator for Theatre BC’s Mainstage on three occasions and has also adjudicated many zone festivals. She has been nominated for four Jessie Richardson Awards for her directing work and has received two for Direction and Best Production.

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    Current Employee | Scholar & Humanitarian

    Avram is an instructor in the Asian Studies department at Langara College and part of the Langara Asia Field School program. He received a BA in philosophy and history at Sofia University and was a visiting scholar at Columbia University on a Fulbright Fellowship. Avram worked at Samsung Electronics in Korea for six years and is the author of several academic papers on North Korea. He worked with the Eugene Bell Foundation on humanitarian programs to assist those from North Korea, especially in the area of tuberculosis. He has an MA in Regional Studies East Asia from Harvard University and a PhD in History from UBC. He did his specialization at Jiatong University in Shanghai and completed his postdoctoral programs at Harvard and UBC.

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