Growing up, Bobby Corrigan dreamed of becoming Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the icon of 1970s American TV as he visited exotic locations and explored the underwater world.
So when Corrigan attended State University of New York (SUNY) at Farmingdale, he planned to major in oceanography. He didn’t even know what pest management industry was. That is, until he had a substitute teacher for one of his classes.
“Austin Frishman came in and was told to substitute teach,” Corrigan says, laughing. “He was totally unprepared, so he did a lecture on pest control. I got up from that class and immediately changed my major to pest control. It was the most exciting semester I ever had.”
Thank goodness Frishman delivered his lecture as well as he did. Otherwise, the pest management industry would have lost its pre-eminent rodent expert and would have robbed generations of his wisdom and insights into rodent behavior. That’s why we’re proud to welcome Corrigan as a member of the Pest Management Professional’s Hall of Fame Class of 2008.
No Mere Substitute
Corrigan, a New Yorker born and bred, is well-known throughout the world as an educator, innovator and consultant on vertebrate pests. That transition is not always the easiest to make, but Corrigan says he successfully made the transition only because he learned at the feet of one of the industry’s master educators.
Frishman, a Hall of Famer himself, became more than a substitute professor for Corrigan — he became his mentor, friend and guidance counselor. Corrigan spent two years helping Frishman as his teacher’s assistant. After receiving his two-year associate’s degree at SUNY, Corrigan entered the industry with Fumex Sanitation, a Long Island, N.Y.-based pest management firm owned by Steve Schwimmer. By the time he’d finished his three-year stint, he knew he wanted to be in the pest management industry for the rest of his life.
The hands-on experience Corrigan gained as a termite technician inspired him to go back to college and earn his bachelor’s degree in pest control — but where could he possibly go? Frishman again intervened and introduced Corrigan to the man who would take over the mentoring role in Corrigan’s career.
“I just had a thirst to learn more,” Corrigan says. “That’s what led me to Purdue.”
Go West (Lafayette), Young Man
The man to whom Frishman introduced the budding pest management expert to was Hall of Famer Gary Bennett, a professor at Purdue University that heads The Center for Urban and Industrial Pest Management. Though the move from a community college into a full-time college career posed its challenges, Corrigan’s relationship with Bennett provided him with the support he needed to make it.
“I was frightened that I wouldn’t be able to make it at a university like Purdue,” Corrigan says. “But I found it stretched me, it grew me, and I found that if I worked hard I could succeed in those classes.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree, he stayed to get his master’s degree from the school, focusing on vertebrate pests with an emphasis on bats. He completed his master’s degree and went to work for John Craft and Hall of Famer Charles Hromada at Termnix International for a year. There, he received the hands-on experience that gave him credibility among PMPs around the world.
Then his old mentor, Bennett, called and offered him a job as an animal damage control specialist in its extension office at Purdue University, which he gratefully accepted. He spent 16 years at Purdue in that position.
Have Lecture, Will Travel
As much as he enjoyed Purdue University, Corrigan followed his then-wife Amy Mulnix to Richmond, Ind. after she received a professorship at Earlham College there.
After leaving Purdue, Corrigan launched RMC Consulting. According to him, there was no guarantee he would succeed in those first few years.
“When I first started, I had one client,” Corrigan says. “It was a scary time — but then I started making the circuit of pest management associations doing lectures on vertebrate pest management.”
At 57, Corrigan says he has plenty left to give the industry, and he’s not planning on slowing down his 60-hour weeks any time soon.
“When I get on a plane and I get the chance to consult on a job, I don’t feel like it’s work,” Corrigan says. “I love it, I’m excited about it and I feel like it’s a day I’m going to enjoy thoroughly.”