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RICHARD FAGERLUND: New mission: Eliminate pesticides in Santa Fe

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — I’m making some changes in life, but they will not affect my column in the Rio Rancho Observer or my Bug Club.

I am 71 and have been retired from the University of New Mexico for eight years. I have just been doing consulting, basically teaching people how to do their own pest control.

Recently, I saw an ad from Santa Fe as it was hiring an integrated pest manager program director. I decided I could do that, so I applied. I got the job and it is great. I have been working up there for three weeks now. I am in charge of pest control for the City of Santa Fe.

Richard Fagerlund.

Richard Fagerlund.

It is my mission to make Santa Fe a pesticide-free city, and that isn’t bad since it is the capital of New Mexico and what happens there can rub off on all of the other cities in the state, as well as around the country. They also want me to help the citizens of Santa Fe make good decisions on their home pest control.

Why am I doing this at my age? Who knows? I will still do consulting in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, but it will have to be on weekends. I will continue with the Bug Club, of course. I still live in the area and won’t move at this time. I imagine I won’t get bored in my senior years. I told them I am probably only good for 10 or 12 years or so and then I may retire for real. Or maybe not.

I guess my mission in life is to help eliminate pesticides from our society and I am starting with the oldest continuously inhabited capital city in the country, Santa Fe. Hopefully, it will become very contagious and other cities will catch the nontoxic pest management bug.

Why did they hire me? I expect it is experience. I have been in the pest control industry for 45 years.

The first company I worked for was King Pest Control in Hollywood, Fla. I went to work for them in 1969. We did monthly pest control by spraying baseboards in people’s homes. There were no rules or regulations dealing with applying pesticides in those days.

I asked my supervisor why we sprayed baseboards and he said it was only to kill time in a customer’s house — to make them think they were getting their money’s worth. That was the reason to spray baseboards then and it is the reason some companies spray baseboards now. Spraying baseboards has no intrinsic value, except to put on a show.

In 1975, I moved to Houston and went to work for Truly Nolen as a salesman. In about two months, I was promoted to branch manager. Truly Nolen changed the district areas and Houston became part of the Florida district.

I didn’t want to go to Florida for meetings so I left Truly Nolen in June 1977 and we moved to San Antonio, where I started working for Orkin as route-man in the hill country of Texas. That was very good work, driving all over a large part of the state, servicing homes and ranches.

In December, my wife and I decided to move to New Mexico, where she came from. I worked for several small companies in Albuquerque, including Pied Piper, Craigs Pest Control, Kill-a-Bug and Pest-B-Gone.

None of them worked out as there was no chance for promotion. The owners were all very nice and I liked them, but I wanted to expand myself. I went to work for Orkin in sales and that was very good.

Finally, in 1995, I gave up working for pest control companies and went to work for UNM as its pest control specialist. I worked for UNM for 11 years before I finally retired and it was interesting to say the least. I started using least-toxic products and the campus community loved it.

So much for retirement, it is back to work.

Next week and thereafter, I will write about pests again. If you have any pest questions, you can still contact me at askthebugman2013@gmail.com.

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