2018 Family Business of the Year (Midsize Firms): Sprague Pest Solutions

Plus: Silver Award winner Torklift Central

SPRAGUE PEST SOLUTIONS. CEO Alfie Treleven, right, with, from left, Larry, Ross and A.J. Treleven.

This article appears in print in the December 2018 issue. See more about the winners of the 2018 Family Business Awards here. Click here for a free subscription.

Sprague Pest Solutions
Location: Tacoma

Sprague Pest Solutions goes beyond getting rid of a few insects. The company delivers preventive and remedial pest management services and food safety consulting to commercial clients in food processing, agriculture, health care, hospitality and distribution facilities. It does so with 260 employees and 12 service centers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and California.

Alfie Treleven, president and CEO, says his parents modeled family-first business values. He also credits the ongoing leadership of his older brother, VP Larry Treleven, who specializes in government affairs and regulations.
The company was founded in 1926 by a nonrelative, W.B. Sprague. The Trelevens’ grandfather, A.H. Treleven Sr., acquired it in 1931. Their dad, A.H. Treleven Jr., took over after World War II (but Grandad still came to work). Business meetings occurred around family meals.

Now involved are fourth-generation members — Alfred’s son, A.J., and Larry’s son, Ross. The Trelevens have carefully researched how to involve next generations. For 20-plus years, they’ve involved younger members in twice-annual family meetings, at which topics such as governance, what a family business means and ways to be involved are discussed.

Sprague reports 8 to 10 percent growth in revenue annually the past three years. Though focused on commercial work, it does pest management for many Puget Sound multifamily properties. Alfie notes, “We believe if we do our job right, every day millions of people eat safer food and live and work in safer environments.” 

Silver Award

Torklift Central
Location: Kent

Torklift makes camping trips secure by manufacturing tie-downs, turnbuckles and precision-crafted trailer hitches — all to connect vehicles to that all-important camper. In 1976, Jon Kay founded a one-bay service center called Torklift Central in Kent for custom-fabricating trailer hitches and repairing trailers. Expansion brought a multibay service center along with the engineering and development of new retail products. It also makes aftermarket RV and automotive products. (A few miles away in Sumner, a related enterprise, Torklift International, makes and ships worldwide items designed in Kent.) Torklift Central recently added a high-definition plasma cutting table and an in-house powder-coating system. Second-generation family member Jack Kay is president and several third-generation members work in key roles. Strategy is determined at weekly senior leadership meetings. Growing 20 to 30 percent each year in recent years, Torklift Central has tripled the number of its employees — to nearly 150.

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