2020 Alumnu of the Year Kari Warberg Block | Bismarck State College

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2020 Alumnu of the Year Kari Warberg Block

FROM BSC DEGREE TO FOUNDING A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS

BY KIM SINGER

 

The 2020 BSC Alumna of the Year is an inventor, entrepreneur and visionary. Kari Warberg Block (‘82) is the founder and CEO of EarthKind, a U.S.-based company that develops and manufactures high-performance, ecofriendly pest control for households and farms. EarthKind products are sold in 35,000 stores across the country, including retail giants, such as Lowe’s, Ace Hardware and John Deere. 

Warberg Block earned an associate degree from BSC in hotel, motel, restaurant management. “The education I received while I was there perfectly set the table for where I am today. Receiving a solid grounding in food and consumer science helped me to invent products that are grown on farms and are packaged much like food.”

She was only able to take one class at a time when she later went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Mary, because she was also employed full time. That all of her credits transferred was critical to her success. “I never thought I could, and I always wanted to [get a four-year degree]. Going to BSC made that possible.”

Guided by a motto of “preserve the good, prevent the rest,” her pest control method is to repel and not kill. This eliminates the need for disposing of dead rodents and insects. And, unlike poison, her products are safe around kids and pets. She said that in the U.S., about 6,000 dogs die each year from accidental poisoning.
Earthkind Logo
Warberg Block makes sure her company is true to its name by being mindful of its carbon footprint. EarthKind currently has a USDA BioPreferred status meaning they are certified at a two percent carbon footprint, but she currently has a goal of getting that down to zero. “We’ve been two percent for a decade, then decided to go for the last two percent this year.” One of the ways she is accomplishing this is with ecofriendly packaging and products. For example, the Pouch Pod product that holds EarthKind’s Stay Away pest repellent pouches appears to be made of plastic, but is actually created using flax.

Not only is Warberg Block passionate about creating safe, high quality products, she also places a high value on caring for her 42 employees by offering them 100 percent paid health insurance and opportunities to further their education. “It lifts society as a whole when businesses invest in people.”

She’s also inspiring future business owners as she has been featured in college entrepreneurship textbooks and is now writing a book aimed at college students. “It will discuss the importance of value-based decision making as the foundation of conscious leadership. And it will demonstrate how making decisions from a place of personal beliefs and strong morals can lead to businesses that are filled not only with financial growth, but also greater potential for social impact.”

Warberg Block has been recognized with many awards for being a trailblazer in business and in caring for the earth and all its inhabitants. Stay Away Mosquitoes has just been named a winner of the 2020 National Parenting Product Awards, an award that was also given to Stay Away Spiders in 2017. She was honored as an Emerging Champion by Global Market Development Center and Winsight Grocery Business in 2019. She was named Mooresville South Iredell Chamber’s Entrepreneur of the Year for 2018 in Mooresville, N.C., the manufacturing home of EarthKind. She was chosen as a 2012 EY Entrepreneurial Winning Woman. In 2013 she was awarded the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Small Business Person of the Year in her home state of North Dakota and made the national top three business people of the year. She is a former member of the National Women’s Business Council, which advises the President, the U.S. SBA and Congress on matters of impact and importance for women in business.