Control bugs for peace

KELEPI Saubulinayau clearly remembers the day he started out with his own business.

It was 2012. Armed with just two containers of chemicals, the former salesman went door to door to sell pest control chemicals. It was a brave move.

After spending 28 years working for a chemical company and making money for others, he wasn’t satisfied with what life offered him.

“I was thinking of my family. I was making money for my employer and I thought it was about time I branched out and do something where I could be my own boss and improve our living standards,” he said.

The experience as a salesman for his previous employer would later prove valuable.

“I had been thinking of what business venture to do. I took leave from work and travelled to the US. While there, I noticed how the pest control industry worked. This gave me the idea straightaway!”

Kelepi returned quite energised with all the ideas. He decided there and then he would start a pest control business.

It was a thankless task. Kelepi said he walked in the hot sun, with his containers of pest control chemicals to sell from house to house.

“Sometimes I would see people lying under the shade of their trees and relaxing, but I had to sweat it out as this work helped put food on the table for my family.”

The businessman said at one stage he would catch the public transport right to schools in Tailevu to establish contacts for his business.

“My eldest son used to accompany me on these trips. He was around 12 years old then. He would wake up early in the morning on Saturdays and we would head out.

“I wanted my family to be financially secure, I was looking long term. So we decided upon establishing our contacts with business houses and schools so we could be contracted to be their official pest control go-to-person,” he said.

The softly-spoken Lakeba, Lau native added it was also his goal to renovate their home and expand it to cater for his five children.

“We used to live in a lean-to house. So the reason for starting the business was to renovate my home.

“I can safely say that I’ve managed to do this. Through my contract jobs, I’ve managed to build a five-bedroom house for my family. Today I have managed to secure business houses and other organisations who are our customers,” he said proudly.

With more than 20 years of experience of selling various chemicals for his previous employer, Kelepi says he is just in his element. All the struggle of getting the name of his company recognised is paying off slowly. In the line of work though he has noticed the extent that bedbugs and other pests have grown over the years. It’s an issue that continue to plague buildings and even homes.

“Yes the population of bedbugs has risen, especially the different species. Fiji is a tourism destination and we have travellers coming in from all parts of the world. You don’t know the type of bugs that attach themselves to these travellers. From our work at resorts and even at homes, we’ve noticed the increase of these pests and the amount of calls from clients to get rid of it.

“Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.

We advise people to clean their bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Or use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and their eggs.” he said.

For now, work continues for Kelepi and his family-owned business. He hopes to open an office soon and buy more chemicals and equipment.

“It’s about working hard and never giving up,” Kelepi said quietly.

“Never trust failure, you’ve got to stand up and continue, eventually you’ll find success.”

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