On September 30, 2023, Western Fumigation employee, Karen DeChristopher, retired after 31 long years of service. Starting in January of 1992 as a temp doing termite renewals, she was hired the following year as a part-time employee – just under 35 hours. On March 15, 1994, she was hired as a receptionist for Western Pest Services. She moved on to be the Fumigation Marketing Admin soon after and she stayed with that brand ever since. Talk about loyalty!
We spoke to Miriam Borja-Fisher, Senior Business Development Manager at Western Fumigation. When Miriam started at Western Fumigation, one of the company’s most critical issues was re-establishing the brand as the premier service provider for Chilean exporters (who ultimately pay for the treatments the company provides at the Ports of Philadelphia). This meant making multiple trips to Chile to meet with key stakeholders and establishing relationships. Karen accompanied Miriam on one or two of these trips and organized a conference on Safety & Security at the Ports – hosting representatives from the US Coast Guard, USDA, Philadelphia Longshoremen’s Association, and many others. Her attention to detail and organization helped Western Fumigation pull off an excellent event that got the company well on their way to the goal.
Similarly, the brand did the same for their United States stakeholders in the industry with Karen once again organizing a “Challenges & Solutions” conference for over 300 stakeholders. This was soon after 9/11 in New York, and there was a crackdown on international trade/food supplies and the industry had to rise to meet the new challenges. Karen was key in getting this organized from invitations to materials to registrations, continuously rolling with the punches of the changes and tightened security measures. With Karen’s help, Western Fumigation assisting in securing Chile the first exemption ever granted to the FDAs Bioterrorism Act requirements for food safety.
Karen took her job very seriously. She was also a kind soul to have around the office. She always had a sweet word for anyone who was lucky enough to encounter her and was a pleasure to work with. Outside of work, Karen has selflessly volunteered her time, talents, and skills for over thirty years. We want to list them all, but that would fill up the page! Among her charities of choice are:
As a four-time cancer survivor, Karen has volunteered her time to The American Cancer Society in an effort to help others battling the disease as well. Her passion for volunteering in support of women’s and children’s causes is inspiring and infectious.
In addition, in 2006, Karen joined the Parsippany Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). In 2007 she was promoted to Senior Leader. She volunteered countless hours during Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, winter storms, flooding events, downed electrical wires, and various other township emergencies and events. She also was the first to volunteer at work, too. We have countless pictures of Karen stuffing stockings for our brave men and women overseas, walking in a walk for autism, and dropping some toys in the annual toy drive. She was even on the committee of the Rollins Employee Relief Fund. All this while having a full-time job at Western Fumigation!
In April of 2023, she was honored by Mayor James Barberio with the Socolowski Senior Citizen of the Year Award. After all the volunteering she does, we feel like it was about time! Shannon Sked, Director of Fumigation, describes Karen as “the face of what “The Western Way” means to our customers and coworkers.” He also said, “I’ve worked with her on the cocoa trade for nearly a decade and with fumigation for about 3 years. What I can tell you is that Karen exemplifies the definition of being an advocate for each customer, for the trades, and for Western Fumigation in a way we all strive to achieve. She set the standard!”
We’re hoping Karen slows down and relaxes more in her retirement, but something tells us she won’t. We’re sure she’ll be spending more time with family – especially the grandkids – and we couldn’t be happier for her. Thank you for all your years of service, Karen, and we wish you all the happiness in this next stage of your life.