Vanity plates create buzz

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July 28, 2022

IMAGE: SPRAGUE PEST SOLUTIONS

IMAGE: SPRAGUE PEST SOLUTIONS

What’s in a name? A lot, if it is one of the vanity license plates bolted to a Sprague Pest Solutions service vehicle. The fleet of the 96-year-old Tacoma, Wash.-based company comprises more than 300 vehicles — more than 60 percent of which have a vanity plate.

The Sprague vanity plate tradition started with BUGMAN, as a birthday gift to then-President Bob Treleven from his children in 1972. That was the first year the state of Washington allowed vanity plates to be purchased by vehicle owners.

PHOTOS: SPRAGUE PEST SOLUTIONS

Today, the BUGMAN plate, which started the tradition, adorns the service vehicle of Bob Treleven’s grandson AJ Treleven, ACE, Sprague’s director of operations. PHOTOS: SPRAGUE PEST SOLUTIONS

“After driving around for a few weeks and receiving positive feedback, Dad said, ‘We might be on to something’ and he ordered plates for the company’s three other vehicles,” recalls Sprague VP Larry Treleven, a Pest Management Professional (PMP) Hall of Famer (Class of 2016). “He was quite proud of it.”

As Sprague’s service footprint has grown to 19 service centers across 10 states in the western U.S., so has the demand for vanity plates and the need to be creative when producing names. There is a friendly competition among employees about their plates, and they often request the plates be transferred when they receive a new service vehicle.

“It has become a tradition that employees embrace. It is part of our heritage and the ‘secret sauce’ that makes Sprague unique,” says Treleven.


PHOTOS: SPRAGUE PEST SOLUTIONS

Employees choose from a list of names, and Sprague submits the paperwork in each state and covers the costs. It is a sizable investment on the company’s part, says President Ross Treleven, but one that is well worth it. Here, Sprague Seattle Route Manager James Lewis poses next to his BUGJEDI plate. PHOTOS: SPRAGUE PEST SOLUTIONS

 

PHOTOS: SPRAGUE PEST SOLUTIONS

Tacoma Operations Manager Tyler Olsson poses next to his FLIES4U plate. “People actually do pay attention to the plates, and we receive a lot of positive brand exposure from them,” says Ross Treleven. “People have left me voicemails telling me they saw our BUGS4U vehicle working at an account, for example, and that they just wanted to say they thought it was cool.” PHOTOS: SPRAGUE PEST SOLUTIONS

 

PHOTOS: SPRAGUE PEST SOLUTIONS

The original Sprague vehicle, a 1948 Plymouth Super Deluxe, is fully restored and used for parades and other events. It sits next to one of Sprague’s current hybrid pickups. PHOTOS: SPRAGUE PEST SOLUTIONS

About the Author

Jeff Fenner is a partner in B Communications, based in Cleveland. He has more than 25 years of experience writing about the pest management industry, and can be reached at jfenner@b-communications.com.

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