Our industry’s future, circa 1997


December 30, 2018


Click to read the 1997 article. PHOTO: PMP ARCHIVES 1997

Dr. Gerry Wegner, BCE, has been a longtime friend of the magazine. In 1997, as co-owner of Varment Guard Environmental Services in Columbus, Ohio, he pitched us an idea for a story about what pest control might be like in 2007. To look back on it 21 years later is a treat.

Doc wrote the article for our December issue under the guise of “your” journal, using military timestamps and his typical gentle humor. You can read the article in its entirety — including the futuristic photos Doc shot to accompany the piece by clicking on the image to the right, or downloading the PDF here.

 What follows are some highlights:

First, you meet with a “PCTronics” sales rep named Dave (a nice nod to the protagonist in “2001: A Space Odyssey”). Among his many wares is a helmet that isn’t far off from today’s virtual reality gaming devices. But for industry purposes, the “PestScan” helmet lets technicians detect moisture, methane and thermal levels. Wouldn’t 2007 Dave be surprised at what moisture meters, infrared monitors and even our smartphones can detect these days?

At noon, you’re having lunch with your “ProFleet” representative, Lisa. She’s recommending you switch “from methane- and propane-fueled internal combustion engines to hydrogen/carbide fuel-cell electric motors.” She also notes that the “latest ComSat satellite communications system should give us an improved phone link between our mobile and stationary units. In addition, they are updating map grids of this area for the ComSat vehicle guidance and tracking function.”

Even in 2007, remember, we were mostly tethered to GPS devices that you mounted on your dashboard, and/or printouts from MapQuest (if you were cutting-edge). Today’s multifaceted GPS systems, integrating with a firm’s invoicing and accounting software, telling you how fast a tech is driving, etc., were by and large in their infancy in 1997. While impressive in 2007, such systems were nowhere near their levels of sophistication (or use) today.

What, no Facebook?

By 2:30 p.m., you check your email and messages. The thought of doing that 24/7 from your phone is not in the realm of imagination at this point, when a flip phone is considered the height of technology. The iPhone made its debut in June 2007, changing forever the way we check email, so this prediction was eerily prescient.

At 6 p.m., you’re placing an order (he doesn’t indicate how, but in 1997 the industry was just starting to get comfortable with e-commerce). The materials include “MyrmaPel ant repllent,” “Camponotex multiple-choice carpenter ant baits,” “EradArach spider repellent,” “Eclose flea pupa/adult emergence stimulator,” “Megacells, or other available brand of multistep, catalyzed electrochemical cells,” and most interesting, “one product bar code field scanner.”

Your day ends at 7 p.m. with a short prayer in your journal — shortly after being grateful for Dr. Austin’s Frishman’s 40 years of attendance at Purdue University. I can personally confirm that Doc Frishman was indeed feted for his contributions at the 70th annual Purdue Pest Management Conference in January 2007, just as Doc Wegner had hoped for 10 years before.

So while we don’t yet have hovering vehicles, holographic insects to train with or, sadly, neither “Rent-A-Tech” nor “Rentomologist Consultants,” we do have more tools than we could have conceived of two decades ago. Who knows — maybe 10 years from now, we’ll find that all of Doc Wegner’s fun, but logical predictions have come true.

Read the full December 1997 article now.


About the Author

Heather Gooch

Heather Gooch is the editor-in-chief for PMP magazine. She can be reached at hgooch@northcoastmedia.net or 330-321-9754.

Leave A Comment

Comments are closed.