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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Friday, August 4, 2017

Bill Kirchner: Passing of a legend

By Rich Kozlovich

 William L. Kirchner, passed away on April 15, 2017 at the age of 83. He was preceded by his wife "Honey" in 2014 who was 78.

In Memoriam: William L. Kirchner
Eleanor and William

Being a part of the pest control industry for 35 years has given me the opportunity to view the industry from two very different perspectives.  During these past 35 years the industry, and society, changed radically, and I had the good fortune and privilege to become friends with those who had to deal with those changes as leaders of our associations. 

Thirty five years ago we had a plethora of highly odorous materials we were using. Today there are few and most of us don't want to use them.  In days gone by pest control was science.  You would mix the chosen product with the appropriate medium and apply it.  Today, pest control is as much an art as it is a science.  In fact, when we first started using low or non-odorous products customers thought they were being cheated.  Imagine that today!

Much of this was a result of claims by environmentalists and regulations passed at the state and federal level.  All of which had to be dealt with by industry. Bill Kirchner Sr. was one of those leaders who made the commitment to deal with the challenge.

He was one of the original founders of the Cleveland Pest Control Association and it's first Secretary/Treasurer, along with Bob Caldwell who was the first President of what's now the Greater Cleveland Pest Control Association. 

Pictured here at the the Tom Evans Award presentation to
Gerry Wegner are his children William P. Kirchner, Barbara A.
with her husband Edward Nye, and Timothy J. Kirchner.
 He is also survived by his daughter "Katie" (David) Grgetic.  
Bill worked hard at the state level serving as a President of the Ohio Pest Control Association and served long and hard as Chairman of the Legislative committee.  He eventually became a Life Time Member.

As a result of the creation of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency and the impact of Rachel Carson's science fiction book Silent Spring on society, Ohio passed pesticide laws that would oversee just about everything we were dong.

Bill, along with the other leaders of the day, stepped up to that challenge and as a result had a great deal of influence over what was passed.

In my opinion the biggest part of that law was, and is, the preemption clause preventing local governments from setting up their own pesticide regulations creating an unmanageable patchwork of conflicting laws.  That has proven so valuable it can't be lauded enough - as we have found out a number of times in the last 25 years.  In 2004, the Greater Cleveland Pest Control Association recognized Kirchner, Bob Caldwell and George Ross for their efforts. 

He never failed to understand our need to protect our industry saying:  "We can't let the government dictate to us over what's right!"  

These were leaders who posessed clarity of thought and vision, something Bill always tried to share with those who were willing to step up to the challenge of defending our industry, including me.  Until he retired he was my mentor giving me clarity and substance for my views by sharing his institutional memory and wisdom.  After his retirement his friend and partner in Southern Mill Creek Products, Tom Evans, became my mentor.  I was fortunate to have known them.  I was fortunate they cared. 

Bill was a third generation owner Cleveland Chemical Pest Control, a company that was founded in 1903 as Chamberlain-Haber Chemical Company.  They sold chemicals but didn't apply them.  As I remember the story customers asked if there was anyone would could apply the pesticides for them so they formed an offshoot of that company to just that - and Cleveland Chemical Pest Control was created.  Bill was a co-founder of Southern Mill Creek Products of Ohio,  along with his brother-in-law, Dick Schroeder, as a major distributor of pest control products throughout the Eastern United States, which was sold and eventually became part of Univar. 

The Schroeder's founded the Pest Control Technology Magazine in Cleveland, Ohio, which as later bought by the Scherzinger family and later sold.  The Kirchner family roots grew deep into the soil of the structural pest control industry.  He and Honey will always be missed.