By Lee Allen
Following in his father’s footsteps, Truly David Nolen opened his first pest control company in Tucson in 1955 with a promise to “add value to the lives we touch.” The business was built on core values like pride and integrity and embracing change for the better by thinking long-term and having fun.
The man who introduced the pest control industry with his trademark yellow Mouse Car is now immortalized in the form of a bronze statue that will repose at the company’s national headquarters, the Truly Nolen Leadership Center in Tucson. It’s fittingly just feet away from one of his famous fleet vehicles – a 1930 Model A Ford, painted the company’s trademark bright yellow.
Employees, family members and lifelong friends from all over the country gathered recently for a private unveiling ceremony, prompting daughter Michelle Nolen Senner to say that “while my father would have appreciated the crowd gathered here today, he also would probably have wondered who was left minding the store.”
Actually, the “store” is plural. The company that first opened its doors in 1938 in Miami, Florida, is still family owned and has expanded to 95 locations in the United States and more than 200 franchises in 60 countries while still calling Tucson its headquarters.
Wife Vickie Taylor Nolen called him “a remarkable man – courageous, generous, annoyingly persistent and maybe even brilliant. I loved him and wanted him to be remembered for what he stood for. He was a wonderful man who built a great company and this is my way of paying tribute to his memory because he touched and changed thousands of lives in his lifetime and in the process was an inspiration to thousands of employees.”
That theme was emphasized by metal artist Lynn Rae Lowe, who designed the bench portion of the life-sized memorial. Rowe told the gathering: “The average person will influence 80,000 people over their lifetime through all the things they do. Can you imagine how many people were influenced by this particular above-average person?”
The memorial project was a year in the making. Local artist and gallery owner Linda Ahearn studied photos of her subject to capture the essence of the individual before spending two months creating a scale model to be enlarged and cast in bronze by Mark Rossi. She called Truly Nolen “a man whose life was an inspiration.”
The finished piece shows the subject, dressed casually with a somewhat whimsical smile, sitting on a bench. The seat is inscribed with “Leader, entrepreneur, aviator, sailor, diver, polio survivor.” along with these words: “A man of integrity and resilience with a wonderful sense of humor who lived his life by the Golden Rule. May the memories of Truly continue to inspire us all.”