Putting the Pest Control Industry on NoticeJoe Abercrombie
Humane Solutions has grown over 1000% in the last two years and has swept the 2021 Vancouver business pest control awards.
Joe Abercrombie started Humane Solutions in 2017 with just a ten-thousand-dollar loan in his third year of an environmental degree at the University of British Columbia. In just a few short years, Humane Solutions has skyrocketed from a scrappy one-truck business to the best-rated company in British Columbia and has swept the local 2021 business awards. Built on a disruptive model of solving wildlife conflicts instead of profiting from them, Humane Solutions set out to make sustainability a by-product of good business and have realized ground-breaking success with a model their competitors claim is impossible.
Joe has worked with wildlife since childhood. Growing up, he spent much of his free time at his father’s remote fishing lodges on Lake Athabasca, and as a young adult, he helped grow his uncle’s wildlife management business based in Alberta. In his early twenties, Joe decided to move to Vancouver to pursue an environmental degree and eventually join the fight for sustainability. Soon after the move, the costs of the city added up and Joe decided to get a job as a standard pest control technician to supplement his savings.
Although he had some experience with basic pests, Joe’s main experience was with larger, high-profile species. Additionally, Alberta is the only place in the world that has successfully maintained rat-free cities due to strict policy and enforcement. So, having spent over a decade in professional wildlife management and no exposure to rats, Joe was shocked to see how the industry was dealing with the global rodent problem.
“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 the environment’s”.
Houses teeming with rats and, families scared and sleep-deprived, and the “professionals” people are supposed to call for help are mandated to neglect their root cause and secure the conflict as a source of recurring revenue. Contrary to widespread belief, rats transit in and out of structures nightly to survive. The industry standard is to identify areas of high activity, to which simply focus their poison efforts. Humane Solutions identifies the access points, seal them with simple materials, then remove any individuals still in conflict. Sounds simple and obvious, but the fundamentals of this approach run contrary to the industry’s initiative and has been the main driver of Humane Solutions’ disruptive success.
“This is our means of making a difference, using our skillsets and privilege”.
The industry-standard can be scaled up to any region or country. Rodents are a multi-billion-dollar problem, and we blindly spend billions on rodenticides to combat it. Governments around the world are experiencing the same trend: increased poison budget has not resulted in declining rodent problems. This problem runs much deeper than simple efficacy and economics:
- 20% of the global food supply is consumed or contaminated by rodents
- >$60 Billion in annual resource loss and cost-to-control
- 10,000 children hospitalized annually in the US for rodenticide exposure
It takes very little research to start to understand just how vast and serious the global rodenticide problem is. Truly global and purposefully shrouded in ignorance, Joe and his team quickly realized that if the goal is to enact sweeping changes to the industry, scalable technology has to be developed alongside a new set of standards and methodology. In response to this, Joe has spent the last four years developing a smart alternative to rodent poison, the CatchData Rodent Management System.
Developed in parallel to Humane Solutions’ service division, CatchData is a smart, humane, and self-resetting trapping system that improves on the economics of poison and marries it to the efficacy and humaneness of manual trapping. The trap itself is adaptive and expandable, offering functionality from a classic baited trap to integrating with existing large-scale waste-management infrastructure.
CatchData is much more than a better mousetrap. In the short-term the technology allows users to manage rodent problems more efficiently while mitigating mass environmental damage, and in the long-term, the data collected will be used to evaluate the efficacy of simple policy decisions that can have systemic impacts on rodent populations. These policy changes – along with green technology and methodology – can be scaled globally to achieve systemic, meaningful results.
Joe and his partners in Outcomes Manufacturing Ltd. are currently finalizing the prototyping stages on CatchData in Kelowna, BC. The project is gaining momentum and attention quickly and the company is in discussions with various municipalities in the Lower Mainland for the first round of beta testing. Their approach is to collaborate with organizations and municipalities currently pushing for progress in the rodent management industry to prove the technology on a municipal scale and use the results from the beta testing to inform the go-to-market strategy. However, with the increasing public outcry to ban rodenticides and subsequently the demand from policymakers for eco-friendly alternatives, the team expects the technology to be enthusiastically supported through the initial manufacturing and distribution process.
In a multi-billion-dollar industry that achieves no meaningful result beyond environmental degradation, a start-up one-truck business in BC has sparked a movement that doesn’t appear to be slowing. Joe and his teams are here to put the pest control industry on notice. From methodology to technology, they are showing consumers that meaningful results are achievable with common-sense approaches, and very soon the Humane Solutions standard will set the precedent for the industry.
Humane Solutions is a great example of what one can achieve when they work hard, follow something they are passionate about, and also strive to make a positive impact in their community. The world is changing, but, hopefully for the better, because according to Joe, “I don’t see a future for unsustainable business.”