Roland Rhodes to retire on 88th birthday

By |  May 27, 2015

Roland RhodesOn June 8, 2015, Roland Rhodes will not only celebrate his 88th birthday, but his official retirement from the pest control industry distribution company he founded Feb. 1, 1962, in Kansas City: Rhodes Chemical Co. Inc.

Rhodes operated the business out of his home until 1966, when he moved it (and two full-time employees) to its first building. It moved again to its current facilities in 1969.

Industry education has always been a priority to Rhodes, who attended the Purdue Pest Management Conference for 35 years. In 2002, Rhodes and his wife, Winona, established an endowment to provide scholarships to Purdue University students studying entomology or pest management. He also established scholarships at University of Illinois, University of Missouri, Kansas State University, University of Nebraska and Iowa State University to honor Fred Clute, one of his first employees.

Rhodes was a strong support of the industry, including in the early 1970s to provide testimony to Senate committees in the early days of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He was also a longtime fixture at the National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA’s) annual Legislative Day event. He was also a member of the Kansas Agricultural Advisory Board, a charter member and longtime treasurer of the United Producers, Formulators & Distributors Association (UPFDA), a member of the Entomological Society of America, and a member of Pi Chi Omega.

Rhodes has been scaling back his office time for the past decade, but June 8 will mark his official departure.

“He’s been an industry icon for 56 years. He’s given back so generously to the industry, but remains a humble man,” notes Lori Irons, an area sales manager for Rhodes who just celebrated 18 years with the company May 25. “I had been a technician in the industry for about 10 years, when he hired me to replace the late Fred Clute, who had been with him for 37 years. A lot of people move around in this business, and yet the Rhodes team has several long-time employees, which is a testament to Roland. I just cannot say enough good things about working for him.

“He’ll be dearly missed, although (his daughter) Debbie is doing a great job at the helm,” Irons continues. “And I have a feeling he might still call in now and then!”

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