Building a company with a legacy


April 20, 2023

Photo: Dennis Jenkins

The Jenkins family has always been close. This photo, circa 1983, shows clockwise from left, Dennis; patriarch Bob Sr.; Raleigh and his wife, Kimberli; Bobby and his wife, Jan; matriarch Sandy; and Dennis’ wife, Jennifer. Photo: Dennis Jenkins

It seems daily that I open my phone to find another pest control company has sold. Buyers are numerous and cash is available. I am not knocking those who have decided to sell, of course, but I do want to present another alternative: keeping your business as a legacy.

I grew up in a family business, then went off to college and came home to that family business — only to have Dad announce he was going to sell the business to Orkin. I remember being at the meeting when he was going to announce the sale, and how at the very last minute, he changed his mind and told employees he just could not do it. Relief overcame me, and I felt safe in our family business again.

Fast-forward a couple of years, and Dad was approached by Waste Management, which was purchasing several pest control companies with the intent of building a new national brand and getting industry leaders to help.

A change in plans

This time he went through with the sale, and I found myself employed by Waste Management Pest Control. Waste Management bought another company in Nashville, Tenn. — Simmons Pest Control — and I was sent to go run it. I remember having to tell my then-pregnant wife, Jennifer, that right after our baby was born, we would be moving out of Texas.

Dennis Jenkins

Dennis Jenkins

We relocated to Nashville when our daughter Marsha was three weeks old. Overall, it was a great experience; we loved the city. However, after one year, almost to the day, I turned in my resignation to Waste Management Pest Control, and we headed to Dallas to start a new business from scratch.

We left Nashville June 8, 1989, and our official start date for ABC Home & Commercial Services, Dallas/Fort Worth (ABC DFW), is Aug. 1, 1989. That was a busy summer!

But since the beginning, I have intended the company to be a legacy business we could pass down to the next generation. We are blessed that our son Russell and his wife, Mary Margaret, are very involved and will be here to run the business after Jennifer and I retire.

We have been working to pass the business to the next generation for years now by transferring ownership bit by bit, while keeping the only “voting shares” until the time we retire.

Retirement income

As I alluded to in my August column (“Growth by real estate”), we have an entity called Team ABC Ltd. that owns all the real estate our company uses. Currently that is five buildings. As the bank loans for those properties are paid off, the pest control company ABC DFW will pay rent to the landlord, Team ABC Ltd.

When Jennifer and I retire, our salaries will be replaced with rental income that ABC DFW pays to Team ABC Ltd., without any adverse effect on ABC DFW. The rent for our first, main location will basically replace our income; as other buildings are paid off in the coming years, we will have even more income to invest. Once Jennifer and I are gone, those rents will be available to pay for the retirement of the next generation, and so on. I am proud of how this plan is coming together, and take comfort in knowing that when I’m ready to retire within the next several years, our legacy will live on.

About the Author

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

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