How the pest control industry has changed since 1933

By |  February 18, 2019
inaugural issue of Exterminators Log 1933 cover

PMP magazine’s “little yellow booklet” pays homage to its very first issue, which actually measured closer to 11×14 inches.

If you stop by the Pest Management Professional (PMP) booth at PestWorld next October, be sure to pick up a little yellow booklet on the table. The booklet is basically a shrunken copy of the very first issue of Exterminators Log, which the magazine was known as when it debuted in January 1933.

As I looked at some of the incredibly interesting articles, ads and quotes of the time, I thought about how our industry has come a long way — or have we? Here are four things I thought were worth sharing from this historical artifact:

  • Fumigation safety. The first article, “Valuable hints to be considered for fumigators using hydrocyanic acid gas,” talked about how deaths had increased in fumigated homes and apartment buildings since 1931. It advised readers to post a notice to tenants, and offered other general rules and precautions, such as ventilation and first aid.
  • Termite control. “Termites, or white ants?” was the headline of an article noting that over the past few years, termites — or white ants — damaged the foundations and woodwork of many buildings in the United States. The article said it would be wise for those who do not know the habits of white ants to learn and obtain more knowledge to save much time and grief.
  • Customer attitudes. The article with the headline “Customer’s attitude: Correct it!” focused on how sad it was to hear customers remark they would not allow an exterminator in their homes or apartments if he were the last exterminator in the world. The article concluded you should always be honest with your customer because confidence is based on honesty. Even though the editors couldn’t have predicted the widespread use of social media or online reviews, this advice is still sound today.
  • Making scents. Did you know that in 1933, you could “perfume a gallon of insecticide” for the price of your morning paper? Well, that was news to me. But Felton Chemical Co., located in Brooklyn, N.Y., had an ad for a complete and varied line of these fine perfume oils that had been painstakingly developed for use. Prices ranged from $1.50 to $3 per pound, and you could get samples upon request. Another company’s ad mentioned covering kerosene odors with “Florene” for a low cost. Heck, did any of you know PMPs used to mix pesticides with kerosene?

Eighty-six years ago, there was lots of news, both good and bad, about our industry. Today, we are blessed to have PMP and other resources — including national, state and local associations, as well as university and extension programs — to inform and educate us about how to control pests, handle customer service issues, make our industry safer and put us on a path to success.

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