Mark Lacey’s career intertwined with so many in this industry — perhaps you knew him as a sales rep for Paragon or Liphatech, sat in on one of his seminars for the National Pest Management Association, read one of his many technical articles (or books), or retained him as a consultant.
Whatever the reason, the industry still collectively feels the loss of Lacey, who died suddenly in April 2007 at the age of 58.
The posthumous candidate that has been inducted each year in the Pest Management Hall of Fame since 1998 is usually someone who is from the industry’s past, a figure who only the old-timers remember and the younger professionals know by reputation only.
In fact, that’s why the candidate is included — to ensure a legendary figure is not forgotten. But Lacey’s situation is different. He’s not a name the staff pulled out of the past, but rather, someone who received more than 20 submissions for consideration this year.
He’s someone whose technical knowledge and detailed photographs of the world around him still benefit professionals today. That’s why we’re extrememly honored to induct Mark Lacey as a member of the Pest Management Professional Hall of Fame Class of 2008
Entomologist from the Start
Becky Lacey, who met her husband at a John Dickinson High School basketball game in Wilmington, Del. — “We were both 15, he was sitting in front of our group, and his first words to me when he turned around were ‘Do you mind keeping it down back there?'” — notes that Lacey was always fascinated by insects. His bachelor’s, master’s and eventually doctoral degrees were all in entomology. He and Becky married in 1972, after he received his master’s degree, and Becky teases it was in large part because he had put more than 20,000 miles on his car driving between Cornell University in New York and Wilmington to see her.
In 1976, freshly minted doctoral degree in hand, Lacey started his professional career at Rohm & Haas in Philadelphia as a sales representative for the agricultural division. The Laceys relocated to Virginia Beach, Va., but then he got the opportunity to work as a manager at Eastern Pest Control back in Wilmington. From there, Lacey became a Terminix sales rep. He then became technical director of the Eastern Division. A serious car accident put him out of commission for a few weeks, but a new opportunity arose for him with Paragon.
“[Hall of Famer] Charlie Hromada was the one who suggested Mark would be perfect for a new position at Paragon,” Becky says. Paragon, which was Terminix International’s distribution arm, gave Lacey the opportunity to share his expertise with other PMPs.
Carl Hinderer, president of Southern Mill Creek Products of Ohio in Cleveland and a longtime friend of the Laceys, agrees that Lacey was in his element when hosting a seminar or helping a colleague.
“I guess we were like-minded entomologists,” says Hinderer. He says Lacey was serious about helping take the industry to the next level — even going so far as to start up IPMNetwork, a consulting business he saw as bringing new technologies like digital photography and the Internet to the industry worldwide, in 1999.
While Lacey was becoming fairly well known in the East Coast and Midwest, thanks to frequent appearances on the programs of state pest control association conferences and local university entomology classes, he also chalked up a national industry prominence by writing technical articles for the trade magazines. When the NPMA’s longtime technical director, Greg Baumann, left to co-own a pest management company in 2001, the association asked Lacey to join the team.
But a bout with bacterial meningitis in 2005 had Lacey down for the count. As had been his habit every Sunday, he had eaten breakfast with his mom, then came home to Becky noting he “didn’t feel well.” Seven days later, he awoke from a coma that had sapped his strength, but not his determination. No one was able to confirm how he had contracted meningitis, but Lacey chose to ignore the “Why me?” route and pressed on with his career.
By 2006, Lacey had accepted a position with Liphatech as a technical sales representative, coming full circle in teaching PMPs about new products and techniques.
“His friendliness made him a friend to many,” says Ted Breusch, who worked with him at the Milwaukee-based company, “I, for one, am better for having been one of those friends.”