I was raised in the pest control industry, starting at the age of 3, thanks to my father, Pest Management Professional (PMP) Hall of Famer (Class of 2005) Bob Jenkins Sr., purchasing what was then known as ABC Pest Control in 1965. I even have vague memories of Dad at the office on Hildebrand Avenue in San Antonio, Texas.
I have more memories from his next office on Austin Highway, but the most memories were from the building he built on IH-35 headed north out of town. This was the office I worked out of and had various jobs.
By the time I had graduated college, Dad already had been approached by Orkin to purchase ABC. I knew he was having conversations with Orkin, and I had a hard time being in the office knowing what was going to happen. Both of my brothers, Bobby and Raleigh, already had started their offices in Austin and Houston, Texas, respectively, but I was still at the home office in San Antonio. I avoided going to our office as much as possible, devoting myself to troubleshooting a particularly difficult rodent account to help keep my mind off what I thought was going to be the inevitable.
I remember the company meeting where Dad was going to announce the sale. At the last moment, he broke down and said he could not do it. I remember a huge feeling of relief.
Forging my own path
Fast forward a few years, and Waste Management entered the pest control market. Dad had served as 1987-88 president of the then-National Pest Control Association (NPCA). They approached several former presidents, knowing each one had a solid business in place, and enticed them with money and the opportunity to help them build “the premier pest control company” in the U.S.
At that point, I went to work for Waste Management Pest Control (WMPC) as regional technical director. A few months later, they purchased Simmons Pest Control in Nashville, Tenn., where I relocated with my family.
After one year there, I resigned. My wife, Jennifer, and I packed up the baby, the dog and the belongings and moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, area to start our business there in 1989. We had no customers. Jennifer went to work teaching school, and I hit the streets. Since that time, I’ve worked hard and had some great people join our team.
The pest control industry was and remains a fantastic industry. It is one that those outside of it don’t really understand, and those in it really do. We have been validated in part by the fact that pest control businesses typically are valued much higher than other businesses when divesting companies.
In the almost 40 years I’ve been full-time working in the industry, I’ve seen a lot of change. One thing that has not changed is the overwhelming desire of everyone to “raise the tide” — to elevate the image and professionalism of our industry. The whole industry is one big networking group. People share openly; they are just as interested in your success as their own. This is true even in a local market. I assure you this does not happen in every industry.
Of course, there have been big changes in our industry. Regulation, for example, has taken away some of our materials and changed the way we do business sometimes, but the need for our industry has continued to grow.
For me personally, this industry cannot be beaten. The people, the sharing, the repetitive nature, the changes — it all has made for a great career. As I look to the future, I look forward to retirement. But just like my dad and brothers, I have the next generation involved in our business. They are preparing to kick “the old guys” to the curb and show what they can do. I’m here to help ensure a smooth changing of the guard, to do my part to raise the tide for all for years to come.