2003 Commercial Technician of the Year: Ron Evans

Features - PCT News

Ron Evans was highly regarded for his technical proficiency, customer service skills, and ability to work with others, during a 22-year career.

December 17, 2003

Editor's note: Prior to this article being published, Ron Evans, the 2003 Commercial Technician of the Year, passed away in his sleep on Nov. 2. According to co-worker David Cuciti, operations manager, J.C. Ehrlich, Avenal, N.J., "Ron was immensely proud of the work he did and the people he trained and worked with everyday. He was completely ‘awed and blown away’ by the news of receiving this highly coveted award." Letters of sympathy can be sent to: J.C. Ehrlich Co., 1282 St. George Avenue, Avenal, N.J. 07001

For 22 years, Ron Evans practiced and honed his skills as a pest control technician in research and pharmaceutical environments. J.C. Ehrlich hired Evans in 1981 expressly for commercial pharmaceutical accounts.

"I had worked in the computer department for Exxon, and then owned my own trucking company," Evans said. "But the deregulation of the trucking industry made it tough to stay in business. So I answered a blind ad looking for someone who needed little supervision. The company that placed the ad was J.C. Ehrlich, and that’s how I got into the pest control business."

Evans acclimated quickly to his new profession. "He provided expert pest management for the pharmaceutical accounts, and he began building the foundation that became our Avenal, N.J., office," says David Cuciti, operations manager, J.C. Ehrlich, Avenal N.J.

In four years, Evans progressed from apprentice to technician first class to senior technician. Along with pest control training, Evans also enrolled in courses aimed at those in the pharmaceutical industry, in order to learn their terminology and concerns. He joined pharmaceutical professional organizations, and made numerous presentations at local and national meetings, all with the support of Ehrlich.

"Ron’s technical expertise, knowledge, leadership and attention to detail made him a widely admired professional by all who knew and worked with him. Ron spoke that language only pharmaceutical operatives know and understand," Cuciti said.

EVOLVING ROLES. Evans’ knowledge propelled him into a role as mentor and educator. New technicians would accompany him into the research and pharmaceutical environments.

Evans would spend one or two days per week helping out the newer service technicians and providing quality assurance.

Six years ago, Evans moved into the newly created position of Pharmaceutical Operation Manager at Ehrlich. This position gave Evans full reign over day-to-day operations at all of Ehrlich‘s serviced pharmaceutical locations, including training and protocol.

"The leadership and guidance Ron shared with our up-and-coming band of technicians in our office was priceless. His dedication, sense of urgency and love for the industry was easy to see and no doubt made Ron Evans the role model of all of his co-workers," Cuciti said.

Added J.C. Ehrlich Senior Technician Kevin Hoag, "Ron was always there for his fellow technician. He was always willing to lend a hand with technical situations or give advice on how to handle a sensitive customer relation situation.

"Ron was a mentor and an example for all to follow. Above all else, Ron was a friend."

INDUSTRY CHANGES. In the early days of his career, Evans admitted that pesticide usage was still strong – the No. 1 weapon for a pest control operator. However, he saw, especially in the controlled environments he worked in, that a different approach was needed.

He started to develop integrated treatments, procedures which didn’t introduce toxins into a very regulated and clean environment. Through this day-to-day knowledge, he forged new standards and specifications for many different commercial accounts.

Evans’ in-depth and intimate understanding of pest management in a highly sensitive arena such as the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry earned him praise and admiration company-wide.

"Ron was often summoned by other Ehrlich district offices to assist in their efforts to impress a potential pharmaceutical prospect. With Ron on the team, J.C. Ehrlich offices, company-wide, were given the best possible man to knock the socks off anyone who knows anything about protecting their facility," Cuciti said.

CUSTOMER RETENTION. Evans said his proudest professional accomplishment was the fact that he continued to service the account for which he was initially hired. He also added to the customer base and helped establish J.C. Ehrlich as a leader in pest management services in the pharmaceutical and research industry.

While Evans was the consummate technical expert, his real hidden talent was in his delivery of standout customer service.

Evans knew everyone at the facility and they all knew him. He fought to take every advantage possible to secure the long-term relationship.

"Ron not only provided top quality service and inspections at this major pharmaceutical facility, but he protected this account like a mother protects her only child," Cuciti said.

GIVING BACK. Ron Evans devoted the majority of his professional life to J.C. Ehrlich and the pest control industry. He had given back to both through his quality work and his mentoring of other technicians.

In fact, Evans was planning to give back even more. Prior to his death, Evans was in the process of writing specifications for pest management procedures in controlled environments, such as pharmaceutical and research facilities, and hospitals. These specifications were to be made available industry-wide.

Don’t Try This At Home

Ron Evans worked in a variety of commercial facilities, including a hotel that was experiencing a rodent problem.

“The sewers in front of the hotel were being worked on, and condos were being built behind the hotel. The rats were burrowing near the hotel’s outdoor pool,” Evans recalled.

Since the pool opened at 9:00 a.m., Evans would perform his pest control procedures earlier in the morning, so as not to inconvenience the guests. One morning, Evans and the hotel manager were walking around the pool at 7:00 a.m., and they noticed a guest was already lounging on a chair by the pool, reading a book. In their peripheral vision, they saw a rat staggering from the pump station, headed directly toward the guest. When the rat reached the chair, it died. Meanwhile, the guest never noticed what had happened. The hotel manager quickly moved to the other side of the guest and engaged her in conversation while Evans draped a towel over the rat and carried it away.

Evans also fondly recalled one of his first assignments – to clean up around a Dumpster. He saw a sign lying on the ground, and picked it up to throw it into the Dumpster. A number of rats had been hiding under the sign and, when exposed, started running over his feet. “I was doing a crazy-looking dance. If anyone saw me, I’m sure they were laughing. Once I got my composure, I realized how unprofessional I must have looked,” he said.