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Avitrol Faces an Uncertain Future

Bird Management Products

The company has been in part or full ownership by the Swindle family (Betty and Kelly Swindle, left) for 35 years.

Brad Harbison | November 9, 2010

TULSA, Okla. — The future availability of bird control agent Avitrol is in doubt as a result of changes within the company and the product’s pending EPA re-registration.

Avitrol baits feature the active ingredient 4-aminopyridine and they have been available to the pest control industry since 1971. The company has been in part or full ownership by the Swindle family (Kelly and Betty Swindle) for 35 years. The couple, now in their late 60s, are set to retire and do not have any trained successors.

“Betty and I have run Avitrol as a small family business,” Kelly Swindle told PCT.  “My wife does the books and I do the technical stuff and without us the company is directionless and headless. It does not have the technical expertise to go forward.”

Swindle said the couple had planned on retiring three years ago, but have not been able to do so due to both personal and business reasons. “We had some business internal things come up that dictated that we probably ought to stay on to ensure our employees stay on to ensure their employment opportunity.”

The most recent hurdle impeding the Swindle’s retirement plans has been the EPA re-registration of Avitrol. In December 2009, the Swindles were informed by EPA of the need to submit a re-registration packet for Avitrol by August 2010, which they have done. EPA is currently reviewing this re-registration packet, according to Swindle.

Because of the pending EPA decision on Avitrol, it is unlikely any manufacturer would purchase either the company or the active ingredient — nor are the Swindles actively seeking a buyer until an EPA decision has been made. “There have been several people that have expressed an interest in taking over, but I don’t think any businessman would purchase a product that is in re-registration not knowing what the answer might be,” he said. “In fact, I’ve told several people that I am not even going to discuss (a sale) until we hear from EPA. Once that answer is known we are going to work very diligently to ensure that product remains in the marketplace because we know there are people who need it.”

Swindle said he has informed distributors of he and his wife’s future plans and the company is doing its best keep the product available for pest control companies that have “work in progress.”

“We announced to our distributors that our last day for shipping was to be the end of October. However, we had enough orders come in, so we are still trying (manufacturing). We are not taking any more orders but we are trying to get caught up with those and once those have been placed we’ll be finished.”

Swindle added that his 38-year involvement with the pest control industry has been a blessing. “People in this industry have both feet on the ground. They are honest, good people to deal with. Many of my business associates have become good friends.”
 

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Avitrol History
Avitrol started as a subsidiary of Phillips Petroleum in the early 1970s. Kelly Swindle was soon brought on board to manage the product line.

Since Phillips Petroleum is primarily a consumer company, they determined Avitrol was not compatible and sold the company to the Williams family. Swindle became a part owner and eventually purchased the company from the Williams family.
 

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