Truly Nolen of America celebrates its 85th anniversary in pest control this year. This momentous milestone caused me to reflect on the last 85 years of our industry as a whole. Several great names come to mind, particularly as we mourn the loss of PMP Hall of Famer Harvey Massey of Massey Services (Class of 2008).
I am grateful and humbled by the titans of the industry for creating a path the last 100 years. (Editor’s Note: The author is onto something… our book chronicling the first 20 classes of the PMP Hall of Fame is titled Titans of Industry and is available for sale here.)
William Albert Flick (1890-1980), of Anticimex, was a dairy farmer who was determined to solve a termite infestation. He leaned on his beekeeping experience and ultimately developed a red compound that took out the entire colony. In 1937, this exterminating process was patented, thereby cementing his mark in pest control history and further professionalizing our industry.
Otto Orkin (1885-1968), founder of Orkin Pest Control, set upon his landmark career at the young age of 14. He made his debut by selling his special blend of rat poison to his neighbors. He also is a PMP Hall of Famer (Class of 1999).
Edwin L. Bruce (1855-1944), of Terminix, started in the hardwood flooring business. His initial interest in extermination came from protecting his flooring product. His team came up with a groundbreaking termicide to ‘nix the termites’; hence the company’s namesake.
Truly D. Nolen (1928-2017) made his mark on the industry through several avenues. As a Miami, Fla., native, he was determined to make his mark out west after reading a National Geographic article about termites. Truly may have started in the shadows of the goliaths established before him — his father was PMP Hall of Famer Truly Wheatfield Nolen (Class of 2006) — however, he was determined to build his legacy going door-to-door on crutches, one customer at a time. Through brilliant marketing, he created a global brand with the iconic mouse car that can be found in over 66 countries. Ever the underdog, Truly was never discouraged to make his mark in the industry and went toe-to-toe to become a leader amongst the billion-dollar corporations.
Harvey Massey (1941-2023), of Massey Services, who passed away Jan. 24, joined this great legacy of industry trailblazers throughout his remarkable career. He cut his teeth in the industry at Orkin and Terminix. After 22 years of leadership at these organizations, he boldly ventured on his own. He began with acquiring a relatively modest company and grew it into one of the country’s largest family-owned pest control companies, all while displaying grace, humility, and philanthropy from his home base of Orlando, Fla.
These pioneers, titans and trailblazers, amongst others, set the groundwork creating the pest control industry as we know it today. Their determination to legitimize, professionalize, and make this into a $20.3 billion industry has allowed so many to have a livelihood, career and even a calling.
As the next generation of leaders emerges to the forefront, I look forward to what the future holds in our greater bug family.