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. 37

In the 1980s, VCC Langara offered its first international field schools to Latin America and Europe. Langara students now have access to field schools in London, Europe, Japan, Korea and China.

Meet more 49 Langarans.

  • Joseph Abercrombie

    Joseph Abercrombie

    Langara Alum | Sustainability Innovator

    Joe is the founder of Humane Solutions Inc., a sustainable, innovative wildlife management company. He has evolved from a student with a vision to a trailblazer in his industry in less than four years. Through his dedication and passion to make positive, sustainable impact, he has successfully grown his business from a part-time venture into a full-time cutting-edge business, offering a full suite of wildlife control solutions across Western Canada with a team of internationally qualified human-wildlife conflict specialists and wildlife technicians. His dedication to environmental sustainability and advocacy work on the discontinuation of poison as a method of pest control has earned Humane Solutions positive reviews in the Lower Mainland and in multiple publications, strategic partnerships with sustainable businesses and organizations across BC, and exploratory research collaborations involving various academic institutions and NGOs. Joe is a budding serial social entrepreneur. Using Humane Solutions as a catalyst, he intends to capitalize on his unique skills and privilege to drive as much social and environmental change as possible.

    Read more
  • Mary Kemmis

    Mary Kemmis

    Langara Alum | Community Publisher

    Mary is the President of Prairie Division of Black Press Media. A champion for community journalism, she started her career as a reporter in her hometown paper, The Smithers Interior News, and then the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. She then moved into newspaper sales and sales management, and spent several years in radio in Alberta and BC. An advocate for women in media, she has mentored many women to achieve leadership positions. She believes that community leaders have a responsibility to drive positive change in their communities. Over the course of her career, Mary has served on many volunteer and organizing boards, including the Red Deer Health Foundation; Volunteer Richmond; Tourism Richmond; the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association; and Banff Canada Day and First Night boards. She is a recipient of the Paul Harris Fellowship and Inspirational Women of Richmond Award.

    Read more
  • Gordon Hoekstra

    Gordon Hoekstra

    Langara Alum | Investigative Journalist

    Gordon is a reporter at The Vancouver Sun. He graduated from the Journalism program at Langara College in 1992. He worked at the Prince George Citizen for 19 years before joining The Sun. His investigations have delved into everything from workplace deaths and air pollution to securities fraud and money laundering. He has won seven Jack Webster awards. In 2009, he won the McGillivray Award for Investigative Journalism by the Canadian Association of Journalists. In 2007, he won a National Newspaper Award, and was a finalist for the same award on four other occasions. Gordon won the Michener Award for Public Service Journalism in 2006 and was a finalist in 2012 and 2017.

    Read more
View all

Thank You ToOur Partners

49 Langarans Contributing Sponsor

49 Langarans Friend/Community Partner

49 Langarans Media Partners