When David Mueller sat in a meeting room 25 years ago in Lubeck, Germany, he couldn’t have imagined that his vision of an international conference featuring some of the most knowledgeable experts on fumigation and stored product pest management, and attracting delegates from around the globe, would have continued to 2018.

“It was a longshot,” says Mueller, president of Insects Limited and Fumigation Service & Supply based in Indianapolis, of his first international event that attracted slightly more than 100 delegates. “We had a hunch that the topic would resonate with industry professionals who shared the same concerns and challenges we did in the States.”

Even though his first event was not a financial success, the feedback and energy Mueller received from the gathering convinced him he was on to something. And that hunch has paid off as Mueller prepares to host the 13th International Fumigants & Pheromones Conference, June 12-14 in Indianapolis.

The theme of the conference is “Twenty-Five Years of Sharing Through Education” and will feature new and practical applications of pest management practices with two hands-on workshops with field demonstrations. (See Conference Program.)

Mueller says the speaker roster has been carefully selected to offer attendees a global perspective on how food, grain, structures, wood and fiber are protected from invasive pests.

The 13th International Fumigants & Pheromones Conference will be held in June in Indianapolis. The Central Canal in White River State Park is a popular location to run, walk, bike or boat downtown. The event will be held on the canal, which is part of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.
Photo courtesy of Lavengood Photography.

“It is truly an international conference as we have speakers and delegates from more than 30 countries,” says Mueller. “The diversity of the speaker lineup, sessions and delegates delivers varied opinions and viewpoints from across the globe.”

Mueller, a Purdue University graduate, has drawn inspiration from one his professors and mentors, the late Dr. John Osmun of Purdue, in organizing the conference.

“Dr. Osmun firmly believed it was better to educate than regulate and that has been our goal from day one,” says Mueller, who says tighter regulatory oversight is driving the industry to improve application methods and safety practices.

The complex regulatory network overseeing fumigations means applicators and suppliers are regulated and audited by multiple government agencies, including the U.S Department of Transportation, U.S. EPA and Department of Homeland Security. And due to several high-profile incidents involving fumigation treatments, the need for training and education is paramount, he says. “One of the unique aspects of the conference is that it puts competitors with common goals in the same room with one another,” says Mueller. “They know it is to their advantage to share and learn.”

And the learning doesn’t stop when the conference ends. Aside from the information sharing and knowledge transfer, the conference has afforded Mueller the chance to develop long-standing professional and personal relationships with attendees and speakers, many of whom have attended every single conference.

“It has allowed me to meet people I would have never met otherwise, many of whom I call close friends,” adds Mueller.

With his three children now involved in the conference as well as the day-to-day operations of both Insects Limited and Fumigation Service & Supply, which were established in 1981 by Mueller and wife, he says the event is like a multi-day wedding where the devil is in the details.

“The topics and issues we cover have global impact and we do our best to provide delegates with the best programming in stored product pest management and fumigation practices,” says Mueller. “Our goal is to deliver value that makes them want to return.”

The author is a frequent contributor to PCT magazine and partner with B Communications. He can be reached at jfenner@b-communications.com.