A chance encounter at the opera set Cameron Wheeler on a path to being a bedbug baker. Having been dragged (his word) to a performance by his then-girlfriend, the WSU engineering grad met Andrew Havlis, who’d just debugged his downtown apartment. The pair discussed the dearth of resources for victims of the bloodsuckers and decided to corner the market with a website of their own.

Along the way they discovered that the bugs die at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. So with a third partner, Richard Paffrath, they cooked up a mobile, collapsible “oven”: Put anything from clothes to electronics in the 25-cubic-foot box, jack up the heat, and watch the pests die. The ZappBug oven went into production in 2012 and started shipping to customers (largely in New York) last June.

The 24-year-old Wheeler is excited to help people, but what does he think about being in the pest control business? “I don’t volunteer it to girls I meet,” he says. “I tell them I’m in overseas manufacturing.”

 

 

Published: March 2013