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Truly rewarding: Family-owned company marks 75 years

Courage, determination and a strong sense of can-do spirit led Truly Wheatfield Nolen to begin a pest-control business in Miami Beach during the Great Depression in 1938.

Now, 75 years later, Truly Nolen is the largest family-owned pest control business in the nation and is known by its founder's name and its fleet of 300 inimitable yellow Volkswagen bug cars.

Rather than changing his unique name, Truly Nolen used it as an attention-getter and marketing tool ' and it worked.

In 1955, after graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in entomology, his son, Truly David Nolen, began his own branch of the business in Tucson. Ten years later the branches merged.

Truly David passed his name on to one of his eight children. Son Scott Nolen is president and oversees the Tucson-based business with 69 branch locations in seven states, franchise locations in 10 states and international franchises in more than 30 countries.

Brother Truly William Nolen focuses on establishing domestic franchises. Daughter Michelle Nolen Senner is head of marketing and said it's been tougher to get the whole family together for a photo than it has been to grow the business.

Green Valley branch manager David Bolton has been with Truly Nolen since April 2012. Beyond the company name and trademark bright yellow mouse car, he said it's the people that have made company successful.

"It's the management's style. They're much easier to work with, and for, than other employers," he said. "That filters down through the company."

"People are willing to accept change to make the company better," Bolton said.

The company's Green Valley residential entomologist Charlie Shiflett said Truly Nolen has been in Green Valley for about 22 years; the branch has 12 employees.

Now known for the recognizable yellow VW mouse car, the company's original vehicles were antique autos. Those evolved into vehicles painted red to look like ants. In the 1960s, big ears and a tail were added to VW Beetle cars and the VW mouse quickly became an iconic advertising vehicle.

An auto-detailing business, Motorvations, paints the company's fleet of VW bugs including some Toyotas and service trucks "Truly Yellow" (yes, that's what the color is called) and stylizes them with big black ears on the roof, a high tail on the trunk and painted-on eyelashes, whiskers, teeth and the company logo.

Truly Nolen notables

Eight family members work for the company. Truly David Nolen passed his name on to one of his eight children. Other children's names include Really, Sincere Leigh, True Spyder Luke and four conventional names ' Scott, Bonnie, Michelle and Scarlett. Dedicated to maintaining the "Truly" name, Scott's son is Truly Scott.

In the 1980s, Truly Nolen was added to the "Guinness Book of World Records" for the World's Largest Tent Fumigation, done at the University of Tampa. A photo of the tented buildings hangs in the Green Valley office.

For the company's 65th anniversary in 2003, Truly Nolen again made its way to the "Guinness World Book of Records" for building the World's Largest Mouse Trap, measuring 12 feet tall, 5ÅÅâ½ feet wide and weighing 600 pounds.

Plans are being made for an end-of-year 75th anniversary event but details remain in a spider web of secrecy.

 
 
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