Episode 7 | June 5, 2018
Bobby Jenkins, the CEO of ABC Home & Commercial Services, has been a well-known Austin business leader for 35 years. He joins hosts Kyle Frazier and Sherren Harter to discuss the value of following your customers' lead to create sustainable growth, the win-win scenario of protecting the environment and delivering effective solutions, and the importance of family – not only at home but also in his business and in the community.
One Big Happy Family
A deeply personal approach drives ABC’s growth and success. It starts with Bobby Jenkins' belief in family. Of course that includes the grandkids he dotes on, as well as his brothers and kids who work with him. It also encompasses his extended family, which includes ABC (“the ultimate family business” as he says) and the entire Austin community (“the biggest small town I know”).
Bobby Jenkins grew up in the family pest control business. He started working there in junior high school, continuing throughout college at Texas A&M. After graduating, he worked full-time in the El Paso and San Antonio offices. In 1983, Bobby landed in Austin to lead a team of 7 employees. He has since expanded the company’s offerings to become a full-service outdoor and indoor home services and commercial maintenance company, growing the business to 800 employees across multiple central Texas locations.
“You have to listen to your customers.”
Bobby attributes his business’s success to building long-term, trusted relationships with his employees and customers. That principle guided the company’s decision in the 1990s to diversify its services.
The management team decided in the late 1990s to extend their pest management services into lawn care, along with weed control and lawn fertilization. When customers asked ABC for other lawn services like mowing, Bobby’s team listened. “If enough people say ‘mow my lawn,’ we’re going to figure out how to mow lawns.” The company branched out into irrigation and landscaping services next, and eventually into handyman, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC services. Bobby says, “We listened [to our customers] and went to where the opportunities were.”
Now ABC is a full-service service company inside and outside the home, and Bobby is continually looking for other services that his customers want and that his team can provide. The questions he asks himself are: “What can I do that deepens our relationship with our customer? What can we do that adds value to that relationship so that they look to ABC to be the problem solver for whatever problem they have at their home?”
Protecting Customers and the Environment, Inside and Out
For ABC Home and Commercial Services, protecting his customers’ health and the environment has always been top-of-mind. Bobby attributes some of that focus to being in Austin. “Environmental issues have always been important to Austin as a community and to our customers,” says Bobby. That has led ABC to focus on a thoughtful, integrated approach to each aspect of their business. They have always followed an integrated pest management approach that emphasizes targeted, low-impact treatment using the least toxic materials available.
Bobby explains ABC’s philosophy as being environmentally responsible while still delivering what the customer needs. “Everybody wants to do the right thing. Everybody wants to have the least impact on the environment, but they don’t know what those answers are. They want to do business with someone who has done that thinking and research and philosophically has that alignment. But at the end of the day, they don’t want bugs and they want green grass and they need hot water.”
Some of the sustainable services ABC offers include:
The company’s commitment to the environment is evident internally as well as externally. The steps ABC has taken to reduce their own footprint and “walk the walk” for their customers include:
The Austin commercial solar panels will generate over 200,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable energy annually, which roughly offsets the greenhouse gas emissions of the fleet. It is also notable for starting a trend. After the first installation by Freedom Solar in 2017, Bobby commissioned a 49.7 kW solar in the San Antonio office, and his brother Raleigh Jenkins, who leads ABC in eastern Texas, installed a 143 kW solar array on the Houston office. Together, these three commercial solar systems will generate 12.2 million kWh of renewable energy over 25 years, which is like taking almost 2,000 cars off the road for a year. The solar panels will also save the business more than $1.6 million over their lifetime, paying for themselves in four to six years.
The Real Meaning of Family
While Bobby is clearly a family man, what makes him unique and earned him recognition as the 2017 Austinite of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce is his commitment to building a stronger community. At this time last summer, he was in the middle of a two-month bike ride from Washington state to New York City.
He and his brothers Raleigh and Dennis rode 3,500 miles and raised $560,000 for two very personal family causes. The first is A Child’s Hope orphanage in Haiti, which Raleigh founded to help hundreds of lost and abandoned. The second is the Moss Pieratt Foundation, named after Bobby’s grandson who died of Sudden Unexplained Death in Children (SUDC). The ride “for children who’ve lost parents and parents who’ve lost children” shows the true meaning of family – and of positive change.
By devoting so much passion to his family, business, and city, Bobby Jenkins is sure to continue as a force for good for generations to come.