Gregarious, artistic and business-savvy DOUGLAS and CRISSY FAIRWEATHER don’t look like killers. But believe it or not, the professional art-framers by day are making a second business out of offing cockroaches. The White Rock area couple invented Papa Richter’s Roach Ridder, an environmentally safe roach killer. They portioned the potion in cute, easy-to-use packaging and — after completing an irritatingly large pile of paperwork and Environmental Protection Agency testing — began selling their product in stores across Texas.
How did the idea for Papa Richter’s Roach Ridder come about?
Back when we first got married 29 years ago, we had an exterminator come to the house once a month or so, but soon we had little ones crawling around [they have raised four children], and that didn’t seem safe, and it wasn’t economical, so we found an old boric-acid based recipe and changed some of the ingredients to make it green, and kid-friendly. In the beginning, we mixed the paste in big salad bowls on our kitchen table. Later on we would have to expand the operation, but the product is still made in the neighborhood. We strategically placed the paste around the house — that was 25 years ago, and we haven’t had any roaches since.
When did the Roach Ridder go from personal use to a business?
A few years later we tried to sell the paste, but people really weren’t interested at the time. But we gave it to friends, people we knew who owned businesses, and everyone was impressed with the way it worked. Crissy eventually came up with the bottle cap design — so now instead of a paste, it’s in button form. Three years ago she came up with putting glue on the back of the cap, so you now just peel them and stick them. There’s a patent currently pending on that design.
Then stores started buying them?
Stores expressed interest, but we had to get EPA approval, even though the active ingredient is boric acid, which is as harmless to humans as table salt. The EPA sent us 200 pages of paperwork to fill out. We ended up having to hire a consultant to get through that. We also had to prove that our product attracted bugs, that it worked — and it did. The first store to carry Papa Richter’s [named after Crissy’s father] is Green Spot on Buckner.
So all those years waiting to turn this into a business, how did you support yourselves?
Oh, we have another successful business: Fairweather Framing, which has been in business for almost 25 years. We are both professional picture framers. We handle some large accounts — American Airlines, Dr Pepper. We get work from around the country.
That would explain your clever packaging.
Yes — my wife is a talented, experienced designer.