In the legendary words of Rocky Balboa, “It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” In reflection and celebration of 85 years in business, Truly Nolen has endured its share of hits — but we always find a way to keep going!
Eighty-five years ago, my grandfather, Pest Management Professional Hall of Famer Truly Wheatfield Nolen (Class of 2006), hung his shingle in Miami, Fla. With that decision, navigating hurricanes became a part of business. Hurricane season typically consists of six tropical storms and one to two hurricanes. These storms, in turn, naturally create conducive conditions for all pests which then yield growth opportunities.
Just after a storm hits, mosquitoes are typically first on the scene. Next up is an influx of cockroaches to the affected area. Then, the once-displaced rodents settle into their new homes in our customers’ attics. Finally, all that moist wood gives termites plenty of options to feast! As many of us in the Florida market know, with hurricane destruction also comes business opportunity.
This all changed in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew, a Category 4 storm, leveled South Miami and affected the greater Fort Lauderdale area. Hurricane Andrew was responsible for 40 deaths and $25 billion in damages at the time. While our Homestead office building in the affected South Miami area survived, we lost 90 percent of our customers. In short, we got hit hard.
Our first priority was to ensure our employees and their families were accounted for and safe. We quickly put together a rapid relief effort to provide food, supplies, power generators, tents, and cash to all employees. In anticipation of the banks shutting down, my father, Truly David Nolen, pulled cash out to personally deliver to employees in need. In the weeks to follow, we mobilized a daily convoy of trucks to send continuous food, ice, diapers, power generators, battery-operated radios, batteries, tents, tarps, flashlights, and other supplies to employees.
Despite the destruction and devastation, our company came together, donated its time and whatever it took to take care of each other. It was vital that we got back to business — and fast. We retained every employee that wanted to stay, which was everyone, and serviced every customer that would let us. We endured something together and we were stronger for it in the end. The response efforts after Hurricane Andrew became the blueprint of how we would respond to the hurricanes to come and how to keep moving forward.
It has been just over a year since Southwest Florida was hit by Hurricane Ian, which was an historic Category 5 hurricane reportedly claiming 150 lives and $112 billion in damage. In the same spirit that my father navigated Andrew, and the many hurricanes since, we found a way to keep moving forward. We were able to help fuel cars for our employees when gas was scarce due to a mobile truck company that provided the service. We offered housing or relocation to anyone displaced by the storm. We fed first responders when given the opportunity to do so. We even outfitted some employees with an entire new wardrobe and toiletries after some unfortunately lost everything.
In short, we took care of our employees, ensured families were safe, delivered resources, serviced any community member in need, and grew stronger together. While it is not necessarily the kind of anniversary to celebrate, I am proud personally to have been able to follow my father’s previous blueprint for storm relief, and I am proud of all of our employees who were part of so many relief efforts to help team members in need as well as people in our communities, customers or otherwise.