In this feature, we turn the spotlight onto some of the key companies within our industry. In this edition, we look at rodent control specialist Bell Laboratories.
In 1974, in Wisconsin, USA, an entrepreneur named Malcolm Stack formed Bell Laboratories and sold just one product – a paraffin-based bait named Rodent Cake.
Over the years that followed, he grew Bell Labs into a large-scale manufacturing operation, investing significantly in R&D. Today, Bell Labs manufactures rodenticides, bait stations, glueboards, mechanical traps and attractants, which are sold to pest control and agricultural markets on six continents.
Although he died in 2006, Mr Stack always credited his success to his company’s continual testing of products. Bell Labs remains a privately-owned family business, still with its roots in Madison, USA, and retains its core focus on R&D.
One pest, one focus
What sets Bell Labs apart from other product manufacturers is its single-pest focus: rodents. Bell Labs employs 15 full-time scientists who study rodent behaviour and control methods.
Andy Knox, Australasian business manager (main picture, centre) joined Bell Labs eight years ago and believes it is a truly unique company. “Our research team is constantly designing new baits and striving to improve the palatability of our existing products. This involves trialling hundreds of foodstuffs, different flavours and formulations. We do a lot of field tests.
“We’re also developing hardware, improving our traps and trying new mechanisms. There’s a real commitment to ongoing improvement.”
Global footprint and growth
Bell Labs has seen steady growth over the last 45 years and shows no sign of slowing. In 2020, the company will be relocating to a new 625,000 sq ft facility in Wisconsin, USA, which will house its corporate office, manufacturing operation, biological and chemical laboratories, and warehouses – every stage of manufacture is controlled in-house. The new campus will be set over 18 hectares of land.
The relocation and expansion of Bell Labs’ operations is testament to its growth and long-term commitment to the pest control industry, in which it is a market leader in both the US and Australia.
Rodent monitoring technology
Bell is in the process of developing a line of digital monitoring products. These products will provide pest managers with the ability to gather and report all information about the rodent activity occurring at the accounts they service. Technicians will have access to information that will allow them to move from being inspectors to problem solvers, quickly and efficiently, using their digital devices.
“Bell recognised the need and desire for electronic monitoring systems in order to reduce the physical workload of pest managers,” explained Mr Knox. The technology will be robust and cost effective, allowing it to be used in nearly any rodent account or situation.
Dedication to conservation
The family owners of Bell Labs have always been passionate about conservation. The company has a history of involvement in large-scale rodent eradication projects across the globe, including the recent successful project to banish brown rats and house mice from South Georgia Island off the southern tip of South America.
The next scheduled project is Floreana Island, part of the Galapagos Islands, where 340,000kg of bait will be deployed. As well as the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, Bell Labs is currently actively involved in eradication projects in Chile, Micronesia and Polynesia, with numerous others under development.
A commitment to growth
As a professional who has worked in the pest control industry for more than 40 years, Mr Knox believes Bell Labs will continue to grow an even stronger presence in the Australian markets.
“It’s a good company to work for – we’re always striving to be innovative, yet are still able to be responsive,” he said. “Australian pest managers support us enormously. They trust our brand, they trust our product. Bell Labs is committed to keep on delivering the very latest innovations in rodent control.”