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. 41

There used to be murals painted on the walls in A building along the stairways. If you look carefully, you can still see some outlines of the original artwork.

Meet more 49 Langarans.

  • Valerie Dunsterville

    Valerie Dunsterville

    Retired Employee | Langara Pioneer

    An “original Langaran,” who was part of the 1970 trek from Vancouver Community College’s old King Edward Campus, Valerie was the Dean of Student and Education Support Services for Langara College and had previously been the Registrar for the VCC Langara campus. Her impact on the College has been immeasurable. As the Registrar, she set up Langara’s student records systems and processes, many of which are still in use today. As Dean, she was responsible for all student and educational support services on campus which included the Library, Bookstore, the Registrar’s Office, Counselling, Health Services, Athletics, Daycare, Food Services, Disability Services, and First Nations Services. She was also a passionate champion for Langara outside of her work. In 1999, Valerie was awarded the Order of the Falcon for her support of the Langara Athletics department. She continues to support student success through her endowed award with the Langara College Foundation.

  • Gail Bremer

    Gail Bremer

    Retired Employee | Professional Development Advocate

    Gail worked in a number of roles during her time at Langara, including Nursing Instructor, coordinator for the Langara Employee Development Centre, Administrator of the Nursing program, and Manager of Nursing’s professional development funds. A program pioneer, she was part of the College’s first International Nursing program and First Nations Continuing Studies pilot project. An alumna of Langara and a former Falcons volleyball player, she continues to be an ardent supporter of the College and the Falcons. She is an active member of the Langara Retirees Steering Committee, and volunteers more than 900 hours annually to organizations such as the Vancouver Aquarium, Easter Seal, Operation Red Nose, and Soccer Canada. In recognition of her work, she has received the 2012 Langara Leadership Award, Andre Tse Service Award, and multiple Richmond Mayor’s Sustainability and Environmental Awards.

  • Ruth Bancroft

    Ruth Bancroft

    Retired Employee | Childcare Advocate

    For 41 years Ruth was the Head Teacher of the Langara Child Development Centre. She led the Centre from 1978 to 2019, creating a high quality, play-based, inclusive childcare program that celebrates the uniqueness and diversity of its children and families and values the amazing contributions of its staff. Ruth and her staff have worked tirelessly with other community organizations to support the children attending daycare at Langara and help families navigate the, at times, complex system of child care funding and services. A long-time advocate for universal and affordable public childcare, Ruth was thrilled when the Langara Child Development Centre was selected as one of the prototype centres to pilot BC’s $10 per day childcare plan. A valued member of provincial and national advocacy organizations, Ruth was a member of the Vancouver Local Supported Child Development Advisory Committee; served as Board Member of SpecialLink, the National Centre for Child Care Inclusion; and continues to be active as a Board Member of the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and Child Care Now. Ruth recently received the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education in recognition of her contributions.

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