Truly Nolen Pest Control is an evolving brand that has had many forms over our 85 years. Today, we are known around the globe for our bright yellow mouse car complete with black round ears and a tail. However, this has not always been the case for our brand.
My grandfather, Truly Wheatfield Nolen, was a pioneer in eye-catching vehicles. At the time, our company was named “Truly Nolen Exterminators,” and he built the original brand with a logo of an elephant — later dubbed “Nozzle Nolen.” His whimsical marketing vehicles included a termite buggy with wings and a sharply painted 1901 Oldsmobile replica. With these striking vehicles among others, he would participate in local Christmas parades in South Florida, dressing up his working vehicles for the holiday season. The elephant symbol stayed in the family for generations, with my cousins at Nozzle Nolen Pest and Land Solutions.
When my father Truly David Nolen branched out from his father to Arizona, branding his vehicles was done out of necessity. In the dawn of establishing his pest control presence, his family car broke down at a gas station. Instead of towing it, it was more economical to abandon ship. Truly wrote his name and number on the side of the vehicle with the hope that it would lead to customers. Fortunately, the circumstance lead to a glimmer of prosperity with the sound of each incoming telephone ring. Once the leads started coming in from this abandoned car, it was cemented that vehicles would be an integral part of his marketing strategy. However, Truly was still far away from the iconic mouse car.
My father believed in finding humor in everything, including his approach to building his brand. Truly encouraged creativity and empowered partners. Throughout the years, our car, and by extension our brand, evolved via the people who built the company. As creative has Truly was, he could not take credit for the mouse car — it was the employees who would create our rolling billboards. In the late 1950s, we were better known for our big fire ant truck. This vehicle was a marketing machine and ended up being a fleet norm. Employees also made a bat mobile and painted a 1959 BMW Isetta green and yellow to give it a buggy look. My older brothers recall driving a Volkswagen Rabbit and pink mice cars.
One car stood out among these innovative endeavors: the mouse car. The mouse car has had many iterations over the last 62 years. In one of the original designs, the ears were oversized and fixed. After a mishap, we shrunk the ears and made them retractable in the wind. We have added a multitude of facial expression and playful tail styles, too.
Today, the mouse car is found around the world in many forms: trucks, mopeds, golf carts and even a limo. The most iconic mouse model is the VW, which serendipitously is called a bug. Regardless of the country, or even the model, the mouse car universally brings a smile to people’s faces while holding our values of family, humor and service to our communities.
With one additional nod to our heritage I wanted to mention, my father had an extensive collection of antiques, which has always been a staple of ours throughout Tucson, Ariz., Naples, Fla., and other areas. I am excited that his collection has generated enough interest for us to put on our 5th Annual Community Car Show Saturday, Nov. 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Tucson at our Leadership and Training Center. His cars will once again appear alongside other classics from Tucson Car Clubs.
After 85 years in the industry, it is clear our mouse car is here to stay, evolving through the next generation. In our most recent evolution, I added a small red ant painted on the side of the mouse car, giving homage to our red ant trucks from nearly a half century ago. They will be on the road soon!