PMP honors 2016 Hall of Fame inductees

PMP 2016 Hall of Fame

The PMP Hall of Fame Class of 2016: Dr. Vernard Lewis; Larry Treleven; Blair and Brenna Toblan, who accepted on behalf of their father, Vern Toblan; and Dick Sameth.

The 2016 class of Pest Management Professional’s (PMP’s) Hall of Fame was honored at a black-tie ceremony Oct. 17 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel in Seattle on the eve of the National Pest Management Association‘s 2016 PestWorld.

This year, four industry icons joined the ranks of 83 other members of the PMP Hall of Fame, which was established in 1997 to recognize the many leaders and pioneers — both contemporary and from generations past — in the pest management industry.

Inductees include Dr. Vernard Lewis, University of California — Berkley, Richard Sameth, retired, Western Pest Services, Vern Toblan (deceased), Pi Chi Omega, and Lawrence Treleven, Sprague Pest Solutions.

The evening’s first honoree was Dr. Vernard Lewis, who currently serves as Cooperative Extension Entomologist at the University of California, Berkeley. He’s been involved in the pest management industry for 35 years. Before his post as an entomology professor, Dr. Lewis was pest management department head at San Quentin Prison and owner of IPM Systems.

During his acceptance speech, Dr. Lewis thanked his Nana and Pop in Fresno; his parents for teaching him responsibility; his 9 brothers and sisters, who taught him how to cooperate and negotiate; his Aunt Ethel, who let him sleep on her couch for two years while he attended college; and Berkley, for “three degrees and a job.”

He said, “I had this tremendous network of industry and academics…thank you for supporting my career.” He then thanked his wife, Dr. Lisa Kala, saying, “She’s here today, she’s always been there with me.” He also thanked his daughter, grandson and the relatives who remind him “there’s more to life than just work.”

The evening’s next inductee was Dick Sameth, who worked for the family business, Western Pest Services, his entire pest management career. Sameth is a second-generation PMP Hall of Famer — his father, J.E. Sameth, was inducted in 1998. He retired as vice president of Western Pest Services after 49 years, but not before he, and brother and company president Bob Sameth, helped grow Western Pest Services into one of the largest pest management companies in the countries. The family sold their business to Rollins Inc. long before mergers and acquisitions were common in the pest management industry.

“When [PMP Editor] Heather Gooch called me to tell me I’d been selected to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, I was overwhelmed,” he said. “Hard for me to believe that, 18 years ago, I received this award for my father, J.E. Sameth.” Sameth acknowledged his wife, Polly, who could not attend, as well as valued colleagues in the pest management industry.

He continued, “Due to my dad’s involvement and my age, I find myself to be a link between the founding fathers of our industry and today’s leaders who have very abley continued the willingness to share their philosophy.”

Larry Treleven, co-owner and co-president of Sprague Pest Solutions, has been in the pest management field for 45 years. At Sprague, he’s been a technician, sales associate and branch manager and now splits management duties with brother, Alfie Treleven.

Looking on as Treleven was inducted into the Hall of Fame were 13 members of his family, including his wife, Jane, his children and his infant grandson and granddaughter.

He thanked the family and the company for making it possible to serve the industry, which took time away from the company. He also thanked his fellow Class of 2016 inductees, with whom he worked over the years.

“We also are so appreciative of all of you. This business is so relationship-driven. It’s all about the people, because it’s the people that deliver the service, it’s the people that work with you and your teams, and it’s the people that are our clients. So we have to remember that,” he said. “We have to nurture it, like we’re planting seeds for the future, because we are.”

Posthumous inductee Vern Toblan was instrumental in guiding industry fraternity Pi Chi Omega into the 21st century. He took immense pride in his work for the fraternity, and his enthusiasm was contagious. His daughter Brenna and son Blair were on hand on their father’s behalf.

In a moving speech, Brenna told the crowd, which included many Pi Chi Omega members, “It’s been very moving to hear all the kind words everyone has had to say about our dad. We really didn’t know, from our perspective, just how involved he was in the industry.”

Son Blair concurred, saying, “My father didn’t just have a passion for the pest control industry, he had a passion for life. He was tremendously honored to be a part of the industry.” He thanked Heidi Ross, Toblan’s longtime partner who was unable to attend the ceremony, as well as those in the industry who knew him.

“Nothing would make him happier than this group gathered together, thinking of the good times that you all experienced with him,” he said.

The PMP Hall of Fame induction ceremony is an annual event. To nominate a someone in the pest management industry, submit a nomination form.

Managing Editor Diane Sofranec can be reached at dsofranec@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3793.

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PMP Hall of Fame 2016 Inductee: Larry Treleven

Larry Treleven has spent practically his entire life serving in leadership roles, from his family company’s board of directors to the president of the NPMA.

PMP Hall of Fame 2016

Name: Larry Treleven
Years in pest management: 45 years
Key positions held: Sprague technician, sales associate and branch manager; Sprague president and then co-president with brother Alfie Treleven
Major industry contributions:
Served as president of the Washington Sate Pest Control Association, the Oregon Pest Control Association and the National Pest Management Association (1994-1995); founding member of the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA)

Larry-Treleven

By his own account, Larry Treleven has been associated with the pest management industry in some way since he “was old enough to fog a mirror.” And maybe even longer than that when you consider, after his birth in 1948, he was driven home from the hospital in his father’s Sprague Pest Solutions service vehicle.

“I joined Sprague on April Fool’s Day of 1971,” Treleven adds. “And my dad liked to make a big deal of that.”

In his early role as a technician with the Tacoma, Wash.-based company, Treleven serviced bars, hotels and restaurants, doing ant, flea and termite inspections.

Now, decades later, Treleven is vice president and co-owns Sprague with his brother, Alfie. He’s also served on the Sprague board of directors for 45 years. But none of this landed in Larry Treleven’s lap: He earned his place in the company after also serving as a Sprague sales associate and a branch manager.

“I wore all kinds of hats doing different jobs at Sprague because we only had three other people in the company,” he says.

One leader, multiple honors

Treleven greets retired CEO (and fellow Hall of Famer) Bob Rosenberg at PestWorld.  Photo: Larry Treleven

Treleven greets retired CEO (and fellow Hall of Famer) Bob Rosenberg at PestWorld.
Photo: Larry Treleven

Treleven held the president’s position for a number of years before stepping back to divide the responsibilities of running the company with Alfie.

“During these years, I was also president of the Washington State Pest Control Association on four separate occasions and president of the Oregon Pest Control Association,” Treleven says, adding that he continues to serve on those governing boards as well as the board for the Environmental Care Association of Idaho. In Colorado, he sits on the state association’s Government Affairs Committee.

That’s an impressive list of roles to have played, but if you know of Treleven, it’s probably because he was president of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) from 1994 to 1995.

“I’ve served in every leadership role in the national association since I became involved with it in 1972,” he says.

One might consider that to be enough governing roles in pest management to fill three lifetimes — but wait! There’s more. Treleven is also recognized as a founding member of the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA) and continues to serve as a state public affairs representative (SPAR) of NPMA for Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

A new direction

Treleven jokes around in the Sprague home office parking lot.  Photo: Larry Treleven

Treleven jokes around in the Sprague home office parking lot.
Photo: Larry Treleven

However, despite being peripherally connected to the pest industry since his ride home from the hospital, for years Treleven set his sights on a far different future.

Growing up in the north end of Tacoma, Treleven attests to having an idyllic childhood — boating on Puget Sound, enjoying summers at his grandfather’s beach in Gig Harbor and playing sports. During this time, Treleven was attending St. Edwards Seminary where he considered becoming a Catholic priest.

“But after all of those years of Catholic school, I decided I didn’t want to be a priest and registered at the ‘pagan’ institution of the University of Washington (UW),” Treleven teases. “It blew my mother’s mind that I would go there, coming from a priesthood education.”

While mulling over the idea of becoming a teacher, Treleven was working part-time for the family business — one his grandfather, A.H. Treleven Sr., purchased in 1931 from founder W.B. Sprague. His father, A.H. Treleven Jr., joined in 1937.

“I thought it was interesting, going to all the food processing plants, mills and factories,” Treleven says. “I’d get immediate gratification because we would be able to solve so many problems for people. Many of those people weren’t just our clients, they were also our friends in the community.”

The business of people

The Treleven family at a recent get-together.

The Treleven family at a recent get-together.

When his father encouraged Treleven to get involved with the Washington State Pest Control Association, the Pacific Northwest Pest Management Conference and the National Pest Control Association (now, the NPMA), he found that encouragement and inspiration was all around him.

He cites fellow Pest Management Professional Hall of Famers Norman Cooper (1999), John Cook Sr. (2015), and Red Tindol (2000) among many of the strong influences and mentors along the way that helped guide him in the industry.

“I recognized that the industry is full of good people and I wanted to remain a part of it,” he says.

So he did. And now, Treleven — like many of the professionals who inspired him — is working to bring others into the fold. In fact, he counts this among his greatest achievements in the industry, a fact that’s especially significant when you consider his above-mentioned resume.

“Recruiting and nurturing great people in our industry is important to me,” Treleven says. “There’s a lot of satisfaction in realizing that we’ve inspired and encouraged some of the fourth generation of our family to join the organization.

“There’s a certain amount of family pride in having an organization run for 90 years,” he concludes. “To know that when my turn is up, that the legacy will continue in capable caring hands with the fourth generation — that’s a special thing.”

Senior editor Will Nepper can be reached at wnepper@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3775.

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PMP Hall of Fame 2016 Inductee: Vern Toblan

Vern Toblan was instrumental in guiding the industry fraternity into the 21st century.

PMP Hall of Fame 2016

Name: Vern Toblan
Years in business: 56
Key positions held: Industry Sales Rep 1958-1995, Industry Consultant 1995-2014, Executive Director, Pi Chi Omega, 2000-2014
Major industry contributions: Grew annual scholarship fund from $50,000 to more than $150,000; known as “Mr. Ficam” for his sales support of the pesticide; enthusiastic ambassador of Pi Chi Omega

Vern-Toblan

How did a Swiss national, who taught ballroom dancing in Canada, end up in charge of a U.S.-based business fraternity for pest management professionals? For Vern E. Toblan, it was a combination of talent, tenacity, and a little bit of serendipity.

Toblan was born March 5, 1930 in Zurich as Werner Hugentobler. After studying agriculture under the Farm School project in Strickhof, Switzerland, he immigrated to Canada in 1953. He went there instead of the U.S. because the waiting list was too long for the latter. As he told Pest Management Professional (PMP) Editor At-Large Jerry Mix in 2008, “I figured that Canada is close to the United States, and so sooner or later I’d make it.” He came to the U.S. in the late 1970s.

A variety of jobs followed, including farmhand, ambulance driver and milkman. In his 2008 PMP interview, Toblan revealed he became a telephone lineman only because he was nearby when the man doing the job fell off the pole and broke his leg. Toblan filled in for the man during recovery.

A career in pesticides

It was during a teaching stint at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Regina, Saskatchewan, where he met his wife, Kathleen Lannan, who preceded him in death. They married in 1960 and had daughter Brenna in 1965 and son Blair in 1971.

In 1958, Toblan was able to put his agricultural background to use: He answered a want ad in the newspaper and thus began his career in pesticide sales with Chipman Chemical, a legacy company of Bayer. At the time, Chipman was the exclusive distributor in Canada for Fisons Ltd., a British company that is also a legacy company of Bayer.

Toblan told PMP in 2008 that when Fisons took distribution in-house in the late 1960s, he went with them.

“In 1973, I was involved in the development of Ficam,” he said, referring to the bendiocarb-based pesticide. “My first job along that line was to do a survey in North America of the pest control industry to figure out how best to distribute that product in this section of the world. I spent two years and 500,000 travel miles visiting pest control firms and universities to devise a marketing plan for Ficam.

“That’s when I started my education work,” Toblan said. “I figured the best way to sell things was to educate people on how to use it.”

After retirement in 1995, Toblan launched a second career as an industry consultant, T&L Consulting, in which he traveled worldwide hosting educational seminars on various products. Among his projects was a five-year contract with B&G Equipment Co. for work in Europe and the Middle East. At the heart of it all, of course, was educating the end user, the technicians.

Throughout his industry career, technician education was a top priority for Vern Toblan.

Throughout his industry career, technician education was a top priority for Vern Toblan.

Pi Chi connection

As a supplier representative to the pest management industry, it only made sense for Toblan to join the industry’s business fraternity, Pi Chi Omega. He did so in 1979, and served as president from 1992-93. Founded on the Purdue University campus in 1955, the fraternity continues its mission today of encouraging and promoting pest management education among professionals.

By 2000, when Dr. Bill Jackson of Ohio’s Bowling Green State University wanted to retire from his Pi Chi Omega executive director duties, he looked to Toblan to take the fraternity to the next level.

“Bill was a good friend and mentor, and certainly instrumental in recruiting me to be his successor,” Toblan noted at the time of Dr. Jackson’s death in 2010.

Likewise, Toblan was a friend and mentor to many in the industry — as Dale Baker, vice president of J.T. Eaton & Co., Twinsburg, Ohio, and current Pi Chi Omega president, attests.

“Vern was a straight shooter, who could call people out without malice or judgment. I really admired that about him. That, and the way that he would have a highball during the meetings,” Baker says with a chuckle, noting that Toblan was reminiscent of his grandfather, fellow PMP Hall of Famer Stanley Z. Baker, in many ways.

Dale Baker recalled his first Pi Chi Omega meeting, which kicked off with a cocktail reception, as somewhat nerve-wracking. With a gathering of so many prestigious industry insiders, he didn’t want to say or do anything embarrassing, yet wasn’t sure what to expect.

“Vern sat next to me and said ‘Dale, you seem to be without a drink?’” Baker says. “He said it with a mischievous smile, like he knew what I was thinking or like when you get someone in a checkmate. Anyway, that question — more like a comment — and that smile and him sitting next to me was a pretty awesome moment.”

Toblan took immense pride in his work for the fraternity, Baker says, and his enthusiasm was contagious.

“When Vern passed, it became painfully obvious to all of us how much he did for the organization,” he says. “His commitment was unquestionable. His passion was inspirational. His legacy is undeniable. Our chain is one link shorter.”

On Aug. 23, 2014, Toblan died peacefully in Middletown, Del. at age 84, with family at his side. He had been caretaker of Pi Chi Omega to the very end of his life.

Professional, but never one to take things too seriously, even his last wishes were eloquently expressed at the time by daughter Brenna Toblan. Rather than a formal funeral, she said, “What he would want would be for all of you to go out and have a good meal, and maybe raise a glass of wine to his memory.”

Editor Heather Gooch can be reached at hgooch@northcoastmedia.net or 330-321-9754.

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PMP Hall of Fame 2016 Inductee: Dr. Vernard Lewis

Dr. Vernard Lewis reflects on a 26-year career at the University of California, Berkeley.

PMP Hall of Fame 2016 Inductee

Name: Dr. Vernard R. Lewis
Company: University of California, Berkeley
Title: Cooperative Extension Entomologist
Years in pest management: 35
Key positions held: Pest management department head at San Quentin Prison, owner of IPM Systems, entomology professor
Crowing achievements: Getting funding for, and overseeing the construction of, the research structure “Villa Termiti,” Chairman of the United Nations Global Termite Expert Group

Dr. Vernard Lewis

Dr. Vernard Lewis

Saying that he’s “had a blast,” Dr. Vernard Lewis reminisced with Pest Management Professional (PMP) about his 26-year career as an entomologist at the University of California, Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station.

It’s a good time for Dr. Lewis to look back, because he plans to retire from Berkeley in June 2017. Until then, he has one more big “blast” coming on Oct. 17, when he will be inducted into PMP’s Hall of Fame.

“I’ve been blessed with high energy and curiosity, but now it’s time for some young blood to come and take this position to the next level,” he says. “I’m ready to leave because I’m tired.”

Dr. Lewis, 65, was bitten by the entomology bug at age 5, and collected insects in kindergarten. The Minnesota native spent seven years with his grandparents in Fresno, Calif., then moved back to Minneapolis for middle school and high school. As the oldest of 10, his bug-collecting hobby was something that was his alone, something he didn’t have to share.

When high school counselors told Dr. Lewis he wasn’t smart enough to go to college, he decided to prove them wrong. He arrived at Berkeley as an undergrad in 1972, kicking off what has been nearly a half-century relationship with the university.

At Berkeley, Dr. Lewis earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences in 1975, his master’s degree in entomology in 1979, and his Ph.D. in 1989. He joined the Berkeley faculty in urban entomology in 1990.

Photo: Dr. Vernard Lewis

Photo: Dr. Vernard Lewis

He recalls how happy he was to be offered the job.

“They were looking for an urban entomologist and they never had an African-American faculty member in my college. So, here I am,” Dr. Lewis says. “With me, you can check all kinds of boxes.”

To help pay for his doctoral studies, he worked at San Quentin Prison as the head of the pest management department from 1986 to 1988 (Editor’s Note: See PMP’s June cover story for more on his experience there).

Dr. Lewis was also part-owner of IPM Systems at that time, and says he has maintained his state pest control licenses since 1982.

“San Quentin is a tough place,” he says, explaining how he ran the pest management program there. “I think I had the most success in modernizing their program and using more modern tools.”

Drs. Vernard Lewis and Lisa Kala on their wedding day in July 1979. Photo: Dr. Vernard Lewis

Drs. Vernard Lewis and Lisa Kala on their wedding day in July 1979.
Photo: Dr. Vernard Lewis

Dr. Lewis has vivid memories of battling bed bugs in the 1980s at the prison.

“The inmates treated me pretty well, because if you disrespected me, you’d have to sit there with those bugs,” he says. “That’s a hard way to go — but prisons are hard. There aren’t any choir boys in there.”

Dr. Lewis says he tried to instill responsibility when training the inmate work crews he worked with at San Quentin.

“I would characterize my many years as a pest control operator as being hard work that demanded I employ many skills,” he says. “It enabled me to help many people in need.”

Academic liaison

Dr. Lewis says he is an urban entomologist. “IPM [integrated pest management] guys have been doing this for decades,” he says. “I have a foot in both worlds — the university and pest control.”

His university “foot” got the Villa Termiti built on the Berkeley campus, says Dr. Lewis. The 400-sq.-ft. wooden building — defined as “The House of the Termite” — is used to test for drywood termite detection and control methods.

Dr. Lewis “conducts” a termite inspection in 1991.

Dr. Lewis “conducts” a termite inspection in 1991.

“Termites are by far the easiest insects to do research on, but with bed bugs, there is a lot more drama,” he says. “I got drafted into conducting bed bug research. I had a patent pending on a bed bug bait, but I couldn’t get anyone to license it.”

Over the past 26 years, Dr. Lewis has given more than 700 entomology presentations, an estimated 65 percent of them directed toward pest management professionals (PMPs) to assist them with their training and development programs.

Dr. Lewis now finds himself concerned with his faculty position at Berkeley.

“When I go, I’ll be the last termite expert in the system for a while,” he laments. While he hasn’t planned on taking on any work post-retirement, he says he might be swayed. “If someone could come up with a big enough project, and there’s financial incentive, I could be talked into working.”

Until that project materializes, Dr. Lewis has other plans: “When I retire, I might go back to bowling and golf. I also have a grandson who is high-energy to keep me busy.”


Dr. Vernard Lewis still crawls under the occasional house before retirement. Photo: Dr. Vernard Lewis

Dr. Vernard Lewis still crawls under the occasional house before retirement.

Did you know?

Dr. Lewis is a founding member of the Global Termite Expert Group, which was put together by the United Nations. The 20-member group from around the world worked together on projects from 2000-2008. ”Actually, I was the chairman of that group,” he says. “Maybe no one else wanted to be chairman; I was crazy enough to take it.”

Dr. Lewis was in Japan on sabbatical leave from the University of California in 2011, when that country was hit by a major tragedy. “I was a three-hour bullet-train ride away from the nuclear plant that caused a major part of the country’s problems,” he says. Dr. Lewis was stationed at Kyoto University, working as an urban entomologist.

Jerry Mix, a 2005 PMP Hall of Famer and editor-at-large, can be reached at pmpeditor@northcoastmedia.net.

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PMP Hall of Fame 2016 Inductee: Dick Sameth

Dick Sameth, who helped Western Pest Services become the company it is today, is PMP’s first second-generation Hall of Famer — his father, J.E. Sameth, was inducted in 1998.

PMP Hall of Fame 2016

Name: Dick Sameth
Years in business: 49
Key positions held: Vice President, Western Pest Services; NPMA President 1996-97
Major industry contributions: Grew Western Pest Services into one of the largest pest management companies in the countries; sold the company to Rollins Inc. long before mergers and acquisitions were common in the pest management industry; instrumental in ensuring FIFRA was written with pest industry input; also oversaw a great deal of positive change in NPMA during his presidency and left the association with surplus revenue.

Photo: John Eisinger

You might say Dick Sameth was born into the pest management profession. He and his brother Bob picked up where his father, grandfather and aunt left off.
Photo: John Eisinger

In 1928, their father, J.E. Sameth, launched Western Pest Services with their grandfather Maurice and Aunt Ailene. When J.E. retired in 1998 (the year the then-91-year-old was inducted into the PMP Hall of Fame), he left the company in the capable hands of sons Dick, who served as vice president; Bob, who was president; and daughter Jeanne Burke, the company’s corporate secretary.

A family affair

Dick Sameth got into the family business in 1955, handling termite jobs while in high school. He attended Dartmouth College and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in zoology. He then went to the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration to earn his bachelor’s of arts degree in business administration.

Sameth says he liked the social interaction with customers and his fellow employees. At the time, many workers emigrated from Scotland and settled in New Jersey. They found work at the Nairn Linoleum factory in Kearny, near Western’s office.

“We were able to hire some very hardworking, loyal people,” he recalls. “They were still there when I started work in 1960, but they were just phasing out. They were the backbone of the company, and they were wonderful people.”

Western has always had a reputation for hiring dedicated, loyal employees. Sameth attributes the low turnover to excellent supervision and training.

Dick Sameth (far right) poses on the “Freshman Fence” with his parents in 1955, the year he entered Dartmouth College. Photo: Dick Sameth

Dick Sameth (far right) poses on the “Freshman Fence” with his parents in 1955, the year he entered Dartmouth College.
Photo: Dick Sameth

“Dad was the driving force on that in our company,” Sameth says. “He thoroughly believed in it.”

The company assigned one supervisor for every seven technicians. The supervisor’s sole job was to go out in the field and help new employees as well as long-time employees.

“We spent a lot of money as well as time, and that kept our employee turnover down,” Sameth says. “It also kept our customer turnover down.”

Western continued to grow, servicing customers in New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania. It established a distribution company in 1946 and a fumigation division in 1983. Before long, it was one of the largest pest management firms in the country.

The company’s success made it attractive to firms looking to merge, and that’s exactly what happened in 2004. Rollins Inc. came calling, making Western a wholly owned subsidiary.

“That was really the start of it all,” Sameth says. “Now you see mergers of companies, mergers of suppliers.”

Sameth retired from Western in 2004. He still keeps up with the industry, however, attending association meetings about every other year.

Serving the industry

Sameth says he enjoyed being involved in the political side of the pest management industry, and his prominent involvement was another factor in his inclusion in the PMP Hall of Fame.

In the 1970s, when the National Pest Control Association (now the National Pest Management Association, or NPMA) staff did not have strong government ties, he worked with fellow PMP Hall of Famers Bob Russell, director of government relations at Orkin (1997) and Charlie Hromada, vice president of government relations for Terminix International (1998) to ensure the U.S. Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) would not hamper pest management efforts.

Boating is one of Dick and Polly Sameth’s favorite pastimes. Photo: Dick Sameth

Boating is one of Dick and Polly Sameth’s favorite pastimes.
Photo: Dick Sameth

“I worked with them for three or four years; we would meet in Washington, D.C., or talk on the phone all the time,” Sameth recalls. “Both companies [Orkin and Terminix] had a lot of interest in making sure the regulations that were put forth were in the best interest of not only our industry, but the public as well.”

Sameth was elected president of the NPMA for the 1996-1997 term. Under his watch, the NPMA returned policy-making powers to the board of directors, implemented a joint state partnership campaign to help boost membership, and mounted a public awareness campaign.

While at the NPMA, he worked closely with Ward Combs, the founder of Presto-X, and Larry Treleven, co-owner of Sprague Pest Solutions and a fellow 2016 PMP Hall of Fame inductee. At the end of his tenure, Sameth left the NPMA with a surplus of funds — a feat not accomplished in years.

Sameth is quick to point out that he was able to participate in industry activities so fully because of his brother’s hard work in keeping Western thriving during his absences. It should come as no surprise, then, that what Sameth says he enjoys most about the pest management industry is the willingness of people to exchange information among one another.

“Even competitors share information. It was true in my dad’s time, it was true when I was working, and it’s true today,” he adds. “There are a lot of great people in the industry.”

Now that he’s retired, Sameth splits his time between Mantoloking, N.J. and Vero Beach, Fla., where he enjoys sailing, boating, fishing and biking. He keeps busy by staying involved. For instance, he’s vice president of the Moorings Yacht & Country Club. He also spends time with wife Polly, their two sons, two daughters and six grandchildren.

Managing Editor Diane Sofranec can be reached at dsofranec@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3793.

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PMP chooses its 20th Hall of Fame class

PMP Hall of FameIt’s hard to believe 20 years have passed since Dr. Austin Frishman explained, in a conference call with the Pest Management Professional (PMP) magazine staff, his desire to recognize the many leaders and pioneers — both contemporary and from generations past — in the pest management industry.

The PMP staff agreed they deserved more than just a one-off profile now and then. A formally installed, uber-selective Hall of Fame is what the pest management industry needed. Throughout 1996, PMP’s issues featured a call for nominations. Response was immense. We convened a special committee to winnow through the entries, and came up with three very deserving candidates: Bill Brehm (the “B” in the “B&G”), Dr. John Osmun of Purdue University, and Bob Russell of Orkin Pest Control. All three gentlemen are gone now, but at the time Russell and Dr. Osmun attended our special dinner, held at Purdue University in January 1997, along with their families and members of Brehm’s family.

It wasn’t long before we moved the celebration to coincide with the National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA’s) annual PestWorld conference, to give easier access to the inductees and their guests. We have never forgotten our roots — and those of the professional industry — at Purdue. Plaques of all PMP Hall of Famers adorn the walls of Smith Hall at the esteemed university.

Every PMP Hall of Fame class is special, of course, but to know we reached the 20-year milestone with this premier industry-recognition program is something to celebrate. Please join us in congratulating our 20th class of the PMP Hall of Fame. At our black-tie event in Seattle on Oct. 17, the eve before PestWorld kicks off, we will induct:

You’ll learn more about these four titans of industry as the months progress. If you have memories and stories to share about any of them, please drop me a line at hgooch@northcoastmedia.net. As for the 19 previous classes of PMP Hall of Famers, you can read about their lives and industry contributions at PMPHallofFame.net.

We’re currently accepting nominations for the Class of 2017 and beyond. You may nominate a pest management professional of any walk of life — business owner, technician, researcher, manufacturer, etc. — at https://pmphalloffame.com/nominate-someone/.

Our PMP Hall of Fame event would not be possible without the generous contributions of our sponsors: BASF Pest Control Solutions, Bug Off Pest Control Center, Control Solutions Inc. (CSI), J.T. Eaton & Co., MGK, Oldham Chemicals Co., Purdue University, Rockwell Labs Ltd and ServicePro.

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PMP Hall of Fame Spotlight: Noad Corley

Noad Corley

Noad Corley

The Pest Management Professional (PMP) Hall of Fame Class of 2015 is comprised of Dr. Laurel Hansen, Dr. Phil Koehler, John R. Cook Sr. and Noad Corley. The magazine staff will induct these deserving candidates in an invitation-only black-tie dinner and ceremony in Nashville on Oct. 19, the night before the National Pest Management Association’s PestWorld 2015 event gets underway. Our formal coverage of the inductees will be in our September issue, but between now and then, we’ll provide you with some informal factoids about them so you can get to know them better.

For example, the late Noad Corley, founder of Corley Pest Control in Dallas, was known throughout the industry as a gentleman and a prankster. Fellow Hall of Famer Norm Cooper (Class of 1999) sent us a photo of one of his favorite gag gifts made by and given to him by Corley — the “Aggie Keys.” Based on where the key ring goes through, it’s a sly dig at Texas A&M.

On a more serious note, each of these candidates was nominated by members of the industry and voted in by the Hall of Fame committee, whose membership rotates each year. If you’d like to be part of the nomination process for the Hall of Fame Class of 2016, click here.

PMP would like to acknowledge the generous support of its Hall of Fame sponsors.

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PMP Hall of Fame Spotlight: Dr. Phil Koehler

Dr. Phil Koehler

Dr. Phil Koehler

The Pest Management Professional (PMP) Hall of Fame Class of 2015 is comprised of Dr. Laurel Hansen, Dr. Phil Koehler, John R. Cook Sr. and Noad Corley. The magazine staff will induct these deserving candidates in an invitation-only black-tie dinner and ceremony in Nashville on Oct. 19, the night before the National Pest Management Association’s PestWorld 2015 event gets underway. Our formal coverage of the inductees will be in our September issue, but between now and then, we’ll provide you with some informal factoids about them so you can get to know them better.

For years, the University of Florida’s Dr. Phil Koehler would humorously weave in his infamous hatred of cats during his industry presentations. But the reality is, he used to love them — until he didn’t.

“Years ago, when we were doing flea research, we had cats we maintained the fleas on,” Koehler says. “They were the best hosts for fleas. At the peak of our production, we were producing 60,000 fleas a week. We had 12 cats, but anytime you have that many cats, you don’t exactly like them.”

Some of those cats, such as one named Fang, had terrible personalities.

“We tried to be humane with our cats, and let them out of the cages,” Koehler says. “Fang would climb up on top of the cages and jump on anyone who came into the room. Two graduate students got cat scratch fever from Fang.”

Koehler teases that he shares his dislike with many pest management professionals (PMPs), especially those who have had customers’ felines run out the door unnoticed during a call. Still others have voiced irritation at the irrational blame they receive from cat owners if a pet gets ill after a (responsible and pet-friendly) pest treatment.

“You can’t win with cats,” Koehler says.

The real topper came when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)wrote to the university’s president complaining about Koehler’s use of cats in research. Koehler’s department chairman wrote back to the president, saying that he didn’t realize you had to like cats to be employed by the university.

That finished that cat discussion.

Each Hall of Fame candidate was nominated by members of the pest management industry, and then voted in by the Hall of Fame committee, whose membership rotates each year. If you’d like to be part of the nomination process for the Hall of Fame Class of 2016, click here.

PMP would like to acknowledge the generous support of our sponsors:

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PMP Hall of Fame Spotlight: John R. Cook Sr.

The Pest Management Professional (PMP) Hall of Fame Class of 2015 is comprised of Dr. Laurel Hansen, Dr. Phil Koehler, John R. Cook Sr. and Noad Corley. The magazine staff will induct these deserving candidates in an invitation-only black-tie dinner and ceremony in Nashville on Oct. 19, the night before the National Pest Management Association’s PestWorld 2015 event gets underway. Our formal coverage of the inductees will be in our September issue, but between now and then, we’ll provide you with some informal factoids about them so you can get to know them better.

John R. Cook Sr.

John R. Cook Sr.

For example, according to the history page on CooksPest.com, “Cook’s Natural Science Museum began as an insect display for Cook’s Pest Control’s Decatur (Ala.) Office Open House in 1968. From 1969 to 1980, it was located in the back of the Cook’s warehouse and open by appointment only.”

The late John R. Cook Sr., who was at the helm of his family’s pest management company from 1950 until 1995, oversaw the 1980 construction of the current, 5,000-sq.-ft. facility, which houses a variety of natural science artifacts. At press time, construction is set to begin at the end of the month on a $15 million, 35,000-sq.-ft. facility. It is expected to be completed by 2017 (learn more at CookMuseum.org).

Each Hall of Fame candidate was nominated by members of the pest management industry, and then voted in by the Hall of Fame committee, whose membership rotates each year. If you’d like to be part of the nomination process for the Hall of Fame Class of 2016, click here.

PMP would like to acknowledge the generous support of our sponsors:

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2015 PMP Hall of Fame Spotlight: Dr. Laurel Hansen

The Pest Management Professional (PMP) Hall of Fame Class of 2015 is comprised of Dr. Laurel Hansen, Dr. Phil Koehler, John R. Cook Sr. and Noad Corley. The magazine staff will induct these deserving candidates in an invitation-only black-tie dinner and ceremony in Nashville on Oct. 19, the night before the National Pest Management Association’s PestWorld 2015 event gets underway. Our formal coverage of the inductees will be in our September issue, but between now and then, we’ll provide you with some informal factoids about them so you can get to know them better.

Dr. Laurel Hansen

Dr. Laurel Hansen

For example, Dr. Laurel Hansen, an entomology professor at Washington State’s Spokane Falls Community College, is passionate about ants. How ant-centric is she? Enough so that on more than one occasion, ants have instigated some minor brushes with authorities.

“I was doing Ph.D. work on ant trails,” Hansen recalls. “We were doing it at night because I was trying to illustrate ants are more active along their trails at night.”

Conducting this kind of night work required Hansen and her team to poke around in the dark with red lights. White lights would confuse or scare ants, while red lights don’t register with them, she explains. The homeowners of the property on which Hansen was conducting her research knew what the team was doing. But their vacation-time house sitter, not so much.

“We heard the sirens coming,” Hansen says. “Before we knew it, the driveway was blocked and we were surrounded. State troopers and everything.”

Hansen wasn’t rattled. She’d been down this road before, though in the past most run-ins had been with security guards or other lower-level authorities — or skunks and raccoons, which we imagine could be equally disconcerting.

Before the police arrived, Hansen suggested to her colleagues that she would simply go knock on the door and explain to the occupant inside — who had since shuttered the blinds — that important ant research was being conducted, which accounted for the red lights and the appearance of sinister nighttime creeping.

But colleagues quickly intervened.

“They were afraid whoever answered the door might have a gun,” she says. “We already heard the sirens though, so we just waited it out.”

Hansen was able to show the troopers her field notebook, which she explains “looks very official.” They wanted to flip through the notebook, which, in addition to proving her innocence, also provided them with a brief crash course on nighttime ant activity.

“The story actually made the local news,” Hansen says. “The headline was ‘Ants Up, Please!’”

Perhaps “Come Out with Your Ants Up” was already taken?

PMP would like to acknowledge the generous support of its Hall of Fame sponsors.

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Meet the PMP Hall of Fame Class of 2015

In March, the Pest Management Professional (PMPHall of Fame Selection Committee convened to determine the Class of 2015. The committee discussed the industry contributions of dozens of candidates nominated for induction. It wasn’t easy, but in the end, the decision was made to induct:

Dr. Laurel Hansen, researcher and biology instructor at Spokane Falls (Wash.) Community College and adjunct professor, Washington State University, Department of Entomology;

Dr. Phil Koehler, Endowed Professor of Entomology, University of Florida (Gainesville);

John R. Cook Sr. (posthumous) of Cook’s Pest Control, based in Decatur, Ala.; and

Noad Corley (posthumous) of Corley Pest Control in Dallas.

You’ll get to better know our PMP Hall of Fame Class of 2015 (aka our “Fab Four”) in the pages of PMP as the year progresses. On Oct. 19, on the eve of PestWorld 2015 in Nashville, PMP will  host a black-tie dinner and induction ceremony.

If you would like to see an industry leader or legend in the PMP Hall of Fame, submit your nomination here

You can reach Will Nepper at wnepper@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3775.

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Class of 2014

The Pest Management Professional (PMP) Hall of Fame was established in 1997 to recognize and thank those who’ve led the pest management industry to new heights. This year, four industry icons — Ed Bradbury, Gene Harrington, Don Reierson and Dempsey R. Sapp Sr. — join the ranks of 75 other PMP Hall of Famers. Though they need no introduction, here’s the Class of 2014.


Ed Bradbury

Ed Bradbury

Ed Bradbury founded Viking Termite & Pest Control in 1980 with his wife, Eileen, and has since grown it into one of largest and most respected pest control companies in North America — with more than 200 employees in five states. Bradbury is six-time president of the New Jersey Pest Management Association (NJPMA) and has been instrumental in creating educational programs for Rutgers University and helped develop new regulations with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Additionally, Bradbury has served on numerous National Pest Management Association (NPMA) committees, including as a board member as Region 1 Director. He’s also served as a board member for the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA).

Gene Harrington

Gene Harrington

In 1994, Gene Harrington responded to a job listing for a manager of government affairs position with the then-National Pest Control Association (now NPMA). Two decades later, he’s still with the association as vice president of government affairs. Using his Capitol Hill experience and knowledge of entomology, Harrington has spent his tenure with the organization affecting industry-related legislation and regulations. He’s helped develop and implement pest management public policy throughout the U.S., and played a key role in the defeat of legislation banning the use of pesticides on various federal properties in 2000. In 2009, Harrington helped create a workable measure affecting the treatment of pests on planes; it became law in 2012. Most recently, he spearheaded the passage of a 2014 law retaining the food uses for the fumigant sulfuryl fluoride.

Donald Reierson

Donald Reierson

Don Reierson veered from plans to teach high school science by taking a job as a student assistant to fellow Hall of Famer Dr. Walter Ebeling (Class of 2003). During his years in the graduate entomology program at the University of California-Los Angeles, Reierson studied mosquitoes and other insects.Now he conducts research for the industry on a part-time basis for the department of entomology, University of California-Riverside with his fellow Hall of Famer and friend of more than 30 years, Dr. Mike Rust (Class of 2007). Their research topics include urban insect pests, integrated pest management, insecticide resistance and field control strategies. Reierson has taken advantage of his academic position and years of expertise to serve as a mentor to next-generation researchers. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology from UCLA and a master’s degree from California State University, Long Beach.

Dempsey R. Sapp Sr.

Dempsey R. Sapp Sr.

Dempsey R. Sapp Sr. is widely considered a founding father of the pest management industry. In 1949, Sapp earned a master’s degree in entomology from the University of Florida. Two days after graduation, he opened Florida Pest Control & Chemical Co. in Gainesville that’s now one of the biggest family-owned pest management companies in the U.S. He also affected pest control regulation with the Florida Pest Control Association (now Florida Pest Management Association, or FPMA), of which he was elected president in 1958. Concurrently, he served three years on the Structural Pest Control Commission of Florida. In 1999, he and his wife, Margie, created the Margie B. and Dempsey R. Sapp Sr. Distinguished Endowed Professorship in Structural Pest Control and Urban Entomology. At the time, it was the first professorship funded exclusively by a PMP at the University of Florida.


Finally, we thank our PMP Hall of Fame induction ceremony supporters for partnering with us to recognize these industry icons:

  • Platinum Sponsor: Bug Off Pest Control Center
  • Cocktail Hour Sponsor: J.T. Eaton & Co.
  • Gold Sponsors: BASF, Control Solutions Inc. (CSI), Marathon Data Systems, Purdue University, Rockwell Labs Ltd, and Service Pro.net.

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Class of 2015

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Class of 2015

The Pest Management Professional Hall of Fame was established in 1997 to recognize and thank those who’ve led the pest management industry to new heights. This year, four industry icons — John R. Cook Sr., Noad Corley, Dr. Laurel Hansen and Dr. Phil Koehler — join the ranks of 79 other PMP Hall of Famers. Though they need no introduction, here’s the Class of 2015.

John R. Cook Sr.

John R. Cook Sr. took the reins of the North Alabama Termite Co. after the passing of his father, and sculpted it into Cook’s Pest Control, a full-service pest management company. He grew his company from one full-time employee and a handful of accounts into the seventh largest pest management company in the nation. In addition to being Chairman emeritus of Cook’s Pest Control, Cook Sr. served as president of the Alabama Pest Control Association and the National Pest Control Association. He also received the 2001 National Pest Management Association President’s Pinnacle Award and was recognized by the Better Business Bureau with a National Torch Award for Marketplace ethics. Cook was at the helm of the company from 1950 until 1995, and still came to work up until about a month before he died in February 2009 from pancreatic cancer.

Noad Corley

Noad Corley, president and founder of Corley Pest Control in Dallas, is remembered by the industry for his advocacy for industry training and education as well as his member-recruiting expertise. He was the creator and driving force behind the National Pest Management Association’s Bird Control Manual. He also served two terms each as president of the Texas Pest Control Association and the Greater Dallas Pest Control Association and displayed a natural ability to lead as a member of both the Texas Pest Control Board and the National Pest Control Association. Corley passed away in 2000 with more than 50 years of pest management industry experience behind him and a legacy found in the countless individuals who learned from him in those years.

Dr. Laurel Hansen

Dr. Laurel Hansen holds a Ph.D. in entomology from Eastern Washington University and is currently an instructor of biology for Spokane Falls Community College, where she is an adjunct faculty member. Known as one of the nation’s top ant researchers, Hansen has shared her wealth of knowledge concerning ants, urban pest management and chemical control fundamentals, in classrooms, labs and through her numerous industry speaking engagements. A highly regarded industry speaker, Hansen is continually submerged in research and teaching, and says that ants continue to fuel her passion for entomology. Hansen has been honored with a Life Achievement Award from the Washington State Pest Management Association and 2006 Crown Leadership Award. She continues to encourage and inspire future entomologists and pest management professionals.

Dr. Phil Koehler

Dr. Phil Koehler has played a key role in developing a professional pest industry in the Sunshine State. As professor of the department of entomology and nematology at University of Florida’s (UF’s) Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Koehler has affected and informed countless individuals in pest management through his various training programs and research. Koehler earned his degree in biology from North Carolina’s Catawba College and a doctorate in entomology from Cornell University. He’s also served as a Lieutenant medical entomologist in the U.S. Navy. In 1995, he helped raise more than $600,000 to build the Urban Entomology Building on the UF campus. He’s also the author of four books on pests, and is an endowed professor both in structural pest control and in urban pest management.

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