Striving to keep workers, customers safe


October 19, 2021

Bobby Jenkins

Bobby Jenkins, president of ABC Home & Commercial Services in Austin, Texas.

At the beginning of 2021, I was convinced 2020 would go down as the most stressful year I ever had in my 38 years of being in business. The pandemic was, and is, something I never thought I would have to deal with. The worry about everyone’s health and safety was all-consuming, and the added worry about the health of the business was a considerable concern early on.

As with most in our industry, business turned out to be OK and we were able to keep serving our customers and provide jobs and income for everyone at ABC Home & Commercial Services. We all are very fortunate pest control was designated an essential service, and I will be forever grateful to the National Pest Management Association and the Professional Pest Management Alliance for their efforts to help promote our industry as essential.


As 2020 ended and 2021 started, the optimism about a vaccine was exciting. I just knew we would have a solution to the virus, and that 2021 would turn out to be a wonderful year. At midyear, my optimism continued as the number of people with the virus declined dramatically and people were getting vaccinated. It felt like the goal line was within reach. And then the Delta variant hit, and we took several steps backward. I still was optimistic as I believed more and more people would get vaccinated, and we would overcome this new issue.
For the past several months, my No. 1 focus as a business owner has been to get as many people at ABC vaccinated as possible.

I have been steadfast and diligent in my efforts to get more of our folks vaccinated. I truly believe my biggest responsibility is to provide a safe workplace for employees, and to provide for the health and safety of our customers and community. We have been extremely diligent in our safety procedures. Wearing our masks, washing our hands, and maintaining appropriate social distance have become almost second nature to us. But the most impactful tool for keeping everyone safe and healthy is the vaccine.


As the pandemic surges and the Delta variant explodes, getting vaccinated is more critical than ever. I am a firm believer in the value and benefit of the vaccine, and have been strongly encouraging everyone at ABC to get vaccinated. As the number of people who get the virus continues to skyrocket, I am now exploring additional strategies to encourage our employees to get vaccinated.

We have had two on-site vaccination days at the office to make getting vaccinated easy and efficient, with moderate success. Our most successful tactic has been putting everyone’s name who has been vaccinated into a weekly drawing for a $500 gift card.

As I write this in mid-September, we are a little over 50 percent vaccinated as a company, and my goal is to be above 70 percent within the next two months. To get there, we are considering the following options:

  • Implementing a vaccine mandate.
  • Requiring unvaccinated workers to show a negative COVID-19 test every week.
  • Adding a $100 surcharge on health insurance for those who are not vaccinated.
  • Hiring only vaccinated workers.
  • Requiring unvaccinated workers to use personal time off if they are out with COVID-19.
  • Paying incentives to workers who get vaccinated.

My goal is to use a combination of incentives and consequences to move the unvaccinated people over the line. With more and more residential and commercial customers requesting and requiring only vaccinated technicians, it is becoming urgent for more of our employees to get vaccinated. Of course, the most important reason for encouraging more vaccinations is the health and safety of our employees, customers and community.

As we move into the fall season, I’m certain we will need to implement several of the strategies we are considering. My prayer is we do not lose too many folks in the process. Getting vaccinated or not has become a political issue, and this makes convincing people to do something they don’t care to do extremely difficult. We will thoughtfully and carefully analyze which strategies to implement in the near future.

About the Author

JENKINS, who rotates this column with his brothers Raleigh and Dennis, is president of ABC Home & Commercial Services, Austin, Texas. He can be reached at

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