Most people look at my family today and have some kind of feeling about us. We are active and known in our industry by choice. Our father’s father was in medical administration in the U.S. Army. He was transferred often to work with hospitals on base and get them in order. As a result, our dad, Bob Jenkins Sr. — a Pest Management Professional Hall of Famer (Class of 2005) — went to 13 different schools in 12 years.
Dad also served in the military but decided to not make it his career. When he returned to civilian life, he helped his mother-in-law run the family mattress business after her husband passed away. Dad did that for a while, until he and Grandma no longer saw eye-to-eye on how to run the business.
Dad did not know what he was going to do next. He looked into buying a job placement agency franchise, but was discouraged after his meeting with them. He stopped off for a bite to eat and read the want ads in the newspaper. There, he found a classified ad for a two-man pest control business for sale.
When he got home, Mom asked him how it went. “I didn’t like what I heard,” he said, “but I think we’re going to go into the pest control business.” Mom asked him what he knew about pest control and he said, “Nothing. But I can learn.”
Thus began the Jenkins’ family entrance into pest control. Dad grew the business in San Antonio to the point of being the largest pest control company in Texas.
Creating a family business
We three sons got married within an eight-month period: Raleigh and Kim on Dec. 30, 1982; Bobby and Jan on May 14, 1983; and Jennifer and me on Aug. 19, 1983. With each of us in the business in some way (Bobby and Raleigh were already in Austin and Houston, respectively, with their own ABC Pest Control companies and I was still working in San Antonio), Dad was doing quite well and realizing his dream of a family business.
Waste Management, which was entering the pest control industry, came to call in 1986. Dad sold to the company while I was the only son still in San Antonio. I went to work for Waste Management, but after a time, I left and moved to Dallas to start my own ABC Pest Control company in 1989.
When Bobby went to Austin, the office there existed, but was very small. When Raleigh went to Houston, there was no business. There also was no business in Dallas-Fort Worth when I relocated here.
As Bob’s sons, we’re three very competitive people, and have worked competitively and cooperatively to grow our separate businesses. In the years that have followed, we have grown our businesses and our relationships. My two brothers are my best friends, and we are all married to the same women we wed four decades ago. Our marriages and children also have been a blessing, and our spouses have supported us all the way.
Preparing the next generation
We all are now past the age when our father sold ABC Pest Control in San Antonio. Because Dad passed away at the age of 61, two of the three of us are older than he ever was.
I know there are other stories of family businesses that are as good or better than this one, but this is ours and we feel very blessed that it is. I hope and pray your stories have been this good. Pest control is the best industry.