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. 9

There is a rooftop greenhouse on top of the cutting-edge Science & Technology Building that is managed by Langara’s Biology Department.

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    Stephen Huddart

    Former Board Chair | Langara Pioneer

    Stephen was the first Chair of the Langara Board of Governors and was instrumental in the College’s transition into an independent public post-secondary institution. He served on several other post-secondary institutional boards, including the BC Centre for International Education, and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges. Stephen is currently the President and CEO of the McConnell Foundation, a national private foundation based in Montreal, with additional staff in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa. The Foundation has played a leading role in developing social innovation and impact investing in Canada. Its priority areas are: transition to an equitable, low-carbon economy; social inclusion and advancing Indigenous reconciliation; community well-being and civic engagement; and increasing society’s capacity for systemic change. Stephen also serves on the Boards of Pearson College UWC and The Transition Accelerator. He is a former member of the Government of Canada’s Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy Co-Creation Steering Group. Stephen has worked as a social innovator and entrepreneur in the private, public and community sectors.

  • 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.

  • Dave Lidstone

    Dave Lidstone

    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.

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