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. 8

The award-winning Pacific Rim Magazine – which is entirely written, designed, and produced by Publishing students at Langara College – will release its 30th edition in 2019.

Meet more 49 Langarans.

  • Barbara Binns

    Barbara Binns

    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.

  • Stephen Huddart

    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.

  • Linda Hudson

    Linda Hudson

    Langara Alum | Business Owner

    Linda is the President and Owner of Kerrisdale Cameras, a family-owned chain of camera stores, and a long-time supporter of Langara College. Originally opened in 1961 by her father Bob Hudson and grandmother, Mary Hudson, Kerrisdale Cameras is a photographic retailer of new, used, digital, and film photo equipment. The company has seven stores in Metro Vancouver and Victoria. Linda works hard to maintain and grow the family legacy. She has been with Kerrisdale Cameras for over 35 years and learned the secret to running a successful business from her father: treat your employees, customers and suppliers honestly and with respect.  Today, over 40% of Kerrisdale employees have been with the company for ten or more years and over 15% are Langara alumni or current students. The company is now the Canada’s second largest independent photo retailer. 

    Linda has a diploma from Langara College (1981) and a BBA from SFU (1989) and held the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation (1999-2013). She was the first retailer in BC to sign the BC Safety Charter. Linda also volunteered for nine years as Treasurer at the BC Retail Safety Society, has been a Strata Council Member in Whistler for 17 years, and is on the Board of Directors of the Kerrisdale Business Association. She also volunteers with the new Kerrisdale Earthquake & Emergency Preparedness (KEEP) working group to help local businesses work together to become disaster resilient.

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