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Dr. Gary Bennett, coordinator of the Urban and Industrial Pest Management Center at Purdue University, gives a tour of the Pest Management Professional (PMP) Hall of Fame inductee plaques that cover a wall at Purdue’s Smith Hall. Dr. Bennett, a 2006 inductee, highlights certain individuals who’ve been recognized throughout the years.
The PMP Hall of Fame has been honoring pest management industry’s trailblazers since 1997.
Vern Toblan was instrumental in guiding the industry fraternity into the 21st century.
PMP Hall of Fame 2016
Name: 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.
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 email@example.com or 330-321-9754.
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
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
“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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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).
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.
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. 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.
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, 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.
The Pest Management Professional (PMP) Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held October 20 in Orlando, Fla., on the eve of PestWorld 2014.
Four industry leaders were honored at a black-tie reception that kicked off with a cocktail hour, which was followed by dinner and the award ceremony.
The PMP Hall of Fame was established in 1997 to recognize and thank those who have enriched the pest management industry. Ed Bradbury, Gene Harrington, Don Reierson, and Dempsey R. Sapp Sr. joined the ranks of 75 other inductees.
PMP Publisher and Editorial Director Marty Whitford got the evening off to a great start, welcoming back to the magazine’s staff Managing Editor Heather Gooch. She introduced each inductee with a brief video that showcased their contributions to the pest management industry.
Ed Bradbury, CEO of Viking Pest Control, accepted his award, thanking his family and loyal employees.
Don Reierson acknowledged fellow Hall of Famer (Class of 2007) and friend of more than 30 years, Dr. Mike Rust, also in attendance. He expressed thanks to those in the industry.
Accepting the award on behalf of Dempsey R. Sapp Sr. was son D.R. Sapp Jr., who told the crowd his 96-year-old father would have loved to collect his plaque in person.
Gene Harrington, vice president of government affairs for the National Pest Management Association, showed appreciation for his wife and his colleagues, many of whom were there.
Many of the past PMP Hall of Famers also were on hand. PMP presented the event with Platinum Sponsor Bug Off Pest Control Center, Cocktail Hour Sponsor J.T. Eaton & Co., and Gold Sponsors BASF, Control Solutions Inc. (CSI), Marathon Data Systems, Purdue University, Rockwell Labs Ltd. and Service Pro.net.