David Sparling started working for his father’s plumbing company in 1979. By the time Sparling took over the small family business, known as Sparling Plumbing, he decided he needed to start fresh. So he folded Sparling Plumbing and founded Safari Plumbing in 2006.
“There was no point in keeping Sparling Plumbing because there were no Sparlings in the next generation to pass it down to,” Sparling says. “I had a daughter and my brother had daughters, so that was the end of the line for us. I thought if there was an opportunity for me to perhaps sell the business later on down the road, we had to change because you can’t sell your own name — you can’t sell Joe’s Plumbing, Rick’s Plumbing or Sparling Plumbing. You just can’t sell that.”
When Sparling settled on the name Safari Plumbing, he just wanted to have some fun with it.
“I just liked the name,” he says. “I thought it would be easy to market and easy to brand. I thought we could have some fun with it — and if you look at the new truck, oh my gosh is it fun!”
Safari Plumbing is a full-service residential plumbing contractor serving Ottawa, Ontario, and the surrounding areas. The company employs three licensed plumbers in addition to Sparling himself, as well as one plumbing apprentice and two office employees. Safari has three vehicles: a 2019 Ford Transit, a 2017 Ford Transit and a 2016 Ford Transit.
Safari’s previous truck wrap featured lions, elephants, giraffes and meerkats on them. As a giveaway, Sparling had small lion stuffed animals made with the lion wearing a Safari Plumbing t-shirt.
“We gave them away anytime we went into a house with a small child,” he says. “It was part of our branding — and part of our fun. But for the last two years, it’s been in the back of my mind that it was time to change it up and do something different.”
Sparling had previously met Dan Antonelli, president of KickCharge Creative, through Nexstar Network.
“I had read his book,” Sparling says. “The logos he’s come up with — some are absolutely incredible. I wanted to do something, but I didn’t know what. I just knew I didn’t want to do it myself. Back in 2006, the first logo was done by the same company who did our truck wrap. I took a bunch of pictures, ideas and things in my head and shipped it off to them, and they made the wrap. I didn’t want to go that route again — I wanted something a little different. So I spoke to Dan and gave him a whole bunch of money. The result is pretty incredible, eh?”
The new design features an elephant whose trunk is a spout.
“We had a little bit of input, but it mostly came from Dan,” Sparling notes. “How do you come up with something that is safari that relates to water? The only thing he could come up with was obviously and elephant. But then how do you relate an elephant to plumbing? That was through the spout. We knocked it back and forth a few times, and as it grew on us, we really liked it.”
Sparling currently has new elephant stuffed animals on order for Safari Plumbing’s youngest clientele.
In the meantime, he has wrapped one truck and plans to wrap the other two over the next six to eight months. Feedback so far has been extremely positive, Sparling points out.
“The boys who drive it like it much better,” he says. “The clients also have commented how much they like it. So the response has been positive. It’s still kind of early yet. Once it’s on all the vehicles, that will make a big difference.”