Nontoxic pest control business opening new store in Howard City

HOWARD CITY — Stephen “Steve” Tvedten, inventor of Safe Solutions Inc., created a safe, natural and effective pest control formula.

Gage DeVries and Tire DeVries stand behind their Safe Solutions products in their newly decorated building at 133 E. Edgerton St. in Howard City. — DN Photo | Gail Whelan

“People tell us all the time that he’s the smartest man they ever knew,” said his daughter Tire DeVries.

Tire and Gage DeVries, Steve’s grandson, have managed the company since the death of parents/grandparents in 2018.

The Tvedtens started a pest control business Stroz Services Inc. in the mid-1970s to early ’80s, following Steve’s graduation from Spencerian College with a business administration degree. Having grown up in rural mid-Michigan, he saw this need. He used synthetics, chemicals and poisons, the conventional substances at the time, but soon he and the rest of his household began to experience ill health: blurred vision, memory loss, headaches, numbness and muscle weakness, irritability and others.

In January 1982, his wife Rosalind gave birth to a stillborn baby. She had carried her baby boy, Matthew, full term, but he was thinking to have died three days prior to his birth.

As the family’s health conditions worsened, Steve reached out to the chemical manufacturer, Velsicol Chemical, thinking they would appreciate being alerted to the present danger and anxious to remedy the offending chemicals to save others, but instead he received an angry, defensive response. As a result, Steve started his own investigation, finding a network of other pesticide victims. His case and others wounded up in court and the upshot was, after exhuming his baby son’s body and finding the poison that killed him, the case was thrown out, as it had gone beyond the three-year limitation period. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but resulted in Steve inventing his own safe pest controls to help others.

The offending substance was chlordane. To her surprise, while Tire was attending Michigan State in 1987, she discovered a newspaper article about chlordane being banned in Michigan. In 1988 the EPA banned it fully for all uses.

In 1997, after much research and testing, Steve developed and patented new enzyme-based formulas that were safer and more effective than the current poisons. Some of his brand names are TweetMint, Lice R Gone and Not Nice to Bugs.

The science behind the difference is that insects with a hard outer shell called an exoskeleton, grow and shed their shell. This process is called molting. They take a small amount of enzymes to crack open their shell, like a zipper on a jacket. Because enzymes are essential for insects to survive, they cannot become immune or resistant to enzyme pest control. Safe Solutions’ relies on physical properties for control rather than chemical, toxic substances.

Tire and Gage DeVries look on as their first rental, a macrame group hosted by Kristine Naffziger, meets in their new facility at 133 E. Edgerton St. in Howard City. — DN Photo | Gail Whelan

Throughout the 2000s, Steve specifically targeted schools to help the cause of teaching how enzyme formulas work. He treated schools and their campuses, helping them become pesticide free, as well as being “certified green.” He published a free online manual explaining safe methods and how to use his products.

Tire and fee continue the work. Not only do they sell nationally, but companies from countries including Uganda, Singapore, Canada, Sweden, Belize and Guatemala purchase their products. Currently, they are embarking on a trade mission to Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. They are a worldwide supplier of safe, FDA-registered material.

Business has been conducted from home in Belmont for several years, but recently they opened a store at 133 E. Edgerton St. in downtown Howard City to warehouse their products and to offer rental space for individuals to host their own events, ie, graduation parties , baby showers, crafting events or other gatherings.

A grand opening is scheduled for Saturday to coincide with the annual Howard City Music Festival in downtown Howard City. Contact Safe Solutions at (616) 677-2850 and safesolutions.com.

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