Day: November 22, 2013

Don’t let the bed bugs bite…

New U.P. business putting bed bug fears to rest

Victoria (Tannehill) Gariepy uses SBE degree to start her own business!

A new Upper Peninsula business is helping find and rid the region of a returning pest, the bed bug.

Lady Killers Bed Bug Management was formed by the duo of Munising-area mo

tel owners Victoria Gariepy (2004 School of Business and Economics Alumn) and Angela Tiernan over the summer, when they realized a need to have bed bug abatement services more readily available in the U.P.

“Wherever there’s travel and tourism, there are bed bugs” Tiernan said. Munising just happens to be one town that sees travelers from all over the world, and as a result, bed bugs have indeed shown up. With the nearest abatement specialists several hundred miles away in Minnesota, however, Gariepy and Tiernan realized that they – and all U.P. motel and hotel owners – would be left with possibility of having to keep rooms closed for weeks while awaiting treatment.

“It’s such a growing problem. It’s a fear that we all have,” Gariepy said about potential bed bug infestations in their motel rooms. “It was about June, and a friend was concerned that she had one,” she added. At that time, Gariepy and Tiernan realized that something more could be done locally in the cases where bed bugs are found, to help alleviate the fear and to decrease the response time when extermination services are needed.

By August, after much research, the pair had purchased equipment that could take care of bed bugs for good, or at least until the next customer unknowingly carries more in. Now operating under the “Lady Killers” name, the women began to utilize special extreme heating units in affected rooms to safely and cleanly kill the bugs, which tend to hide in dark, tight corners, including in bed creases, behind headboards, and more. The heating unit is placed in the room, until it reaches and maintains a temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit. To reach all of the bugs, the room is taken apart to expose as many hiding places as possible, and room components rearranged a couple times during the heating period in order to negate any cold spots.

In addition to leaving no residues, the heating process differs from chemical treatments in that it more effectively kills bed bugs in all life stages, including the eggs, thus preventing natural reinfestation.

Now, after just a couple months of success using the heating units and gaining feedback from customers, Gariepy and Tiernan have decided to expand Lady Killers to include another step, a bed bug diagnostic service.

Beginning in December, the duo will begin using special bed bug-sniffing dogs to help facility owners assess whether or not they do have bed bugs present. “The first defense against bed bugs is their customers in the room,” Tiernan said, adding that this is just about the last thing motel owners want to have to discuss with their guests on any given morning. She and Gariepy were not alone in this thinking; owners of larger U.P. motels asked if Lady Killers would offer the dog service locally, since, like the Minnesota heating unit service, the nearest trained dog comes from quite a distance, out of downstate Kalamazoo.

Like those trained to sniff out drugs or bombs, dogs can be taught to smell and indicate the presence of live bed bugs. Humans can inspect a room, too, the women said, but the process takes a substantial amount of time, and each room must be torn apart in order to look in all types of hiding places. The dogs can perform the same task much more quickly, and without the need to take apart anything. “With the dogs, you’re in and out of a room in minutes,” Gariepy said. Tiernan also noted that the dogs can execute the task at a much higher accuracy rate than humans.

The duo opted to go straight to the person considered to be the country’s authority on the issue, Bill Whitstine, who has been featured with his trained bed bug-sniffing dogs on the Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible.” Gariepy and Tiernan will soon spend a week at Whitstine’s training facility in Florida, learning how to work with their two new dogs and to read their cues, before returning with them ready to get to work in the U.P. and the Upper Great Lakes region.

Lady Killers Bed Bug Management’s heating and bed bug diagnostic services will be available to more than just motels and hotels; Gariepy and Tiernan will happily work with any facility that may harbor the pests, including nursing homes, apartments, and even houses. “You can get a bed bug anywhere,” Tiernan said. More information about Lady Killers’ services may be visited online at www.ladykillers.me. They may be contacted directly by emailing BedBugHitman@gmail.com, or by calling Gariepy at 906-202-0812 or Tiernan at 920-737-8349.


Finance Club Fosters Financial Literacy on Campus

On November 20th, the Michigan Tech Finance Club in partnership with the Michigan Tech Office of Financial Aid and Wells Fargo held the second edition of FinanceU at the R. Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library. In line with the 2012 edition, this event aimed at fostering financial literacy on campus and was specifically tailored to students, regardless of class and major. It offered advising and information related to personal finance, financial aid opportunities (e.g. grants & scholarships), the relevance of starting  a retirement plan as early as possible, and useful tips on how to benefit from several online tools such as CashCourse – a free online personal finance program sponsored by the Alumni Association.

Students were asked to complete a short survey covering areas such as their current method of budgeting, Federal Direct Student Loan knowledge and any additional areas that they may have questions in. Financial Aid Advisor, Cindy Cowell noted “as a piece of our financial literacy initiative on campus, the financial aid office is pleased to partner with the Finance Club to implement programming designed to increase the financial literacy of Michigan Tech’s student body.” The club does an effective job of promoting the message to students that topics such as  budgeting, credit, responsible borrowing and retirement are critical to know in order to remain on a financially stable path.  Financial education now will enable students to make sound financial decisions and enable them to live the life that they desire later.

Well Fargo Store Manager Ellie Freeman also participated in Finance U noting that it is a great opportunity for students to ask questions, because it is a casual environment without any pressure. Freeman also added, “it’s important to know while you are in school the importance of building credit in a positive manner.” She also recommended that students have a minimum of three savings accounts: long term, short term, and 3 months salary. This event is great because it brings together people who have a great deal of knowledge about financial planning into one place that is easily accessible by students.

Financial Aid Advisor Cindy Cowell talks with a student about personal financial management.

The partnership between Financial Aid and the Finance Club is effective in delivering a critical financial message to Michigan Tech students. For example, hearing about a topic such as retirement and the need to start saving at a young age, is received by students much more readily when the message is coming from a peer. Michigan Tech students often have the opportunity to contribute to a retirement plan as part of their co-op job benefits. We hope to educate students to take advantage of these kinds of financial opportunities at as young an age as possible.

The Finance Club and partners collected 165 surveys this year-- double what they collected the previous year!

This event is the outcome of the continued efforts by the Finance Club and the Office of Financial Aid to foster financial literacy on campus. Dr. Oliveira said “our fantastic Finance Club members put significant effort to disseminate to their fellow students, knowledge and resources available either at MTU or in the world wide web that can significantly impact the betterment of personal financial management.” This year the Finance Club has also invited the local Wells Fargo manager to share her experience with tailoring retirement plans according to each individual’s life stage and goals. Oliveira also noted that the students’ interest and participation has been outstanding this year.  The Finance Club collected 165 surveys on finance-related practices and demographics this year –  an increase of 100 relatively to the prior year. Besides disseminating information our club members get a chance to practice their communication skills and ability to test their know-how with real world questions. We are looking forward to learn from this year’s experience and continuously improve this annual event.