|Colby McCarty of Chem-free Ogranic, PCT’s 2012 Residential Technician of the Year.|
While most of his classmates were running home after school to play football or video games, 15-year-old Colby McCarty was laying the foundation for his career. His dad, Randy McCarty, ran the College Station, Texas, office of ABC Home & Commercial Services back then, and he offered his son a part-time position to make some extra money. Little did either of them know that Colby would become an integral player in ABC’s Chem-free Organic Pest & Lawn Services division.
“I discovered that I have a passion for customer service,” the younger McCarty, now 29, shares. “It’s infinitely rewarding knowing that you’ve helped people rid their homes of rodents or insects. Seeing their faces light up because you’ve made their homes safe again is a daily reminder of the importance of the work we do.”
McCarty earned his certified applicator’s license at 17, the youngest technician at ABC to do so. He paid his dues by working long hours, especially during his college years, when he was a full-time student as well as a full-time technician. While studying at Blinn College, McCarty divided his days between attending classes and doing residential pest management work. After studying a few hours in the evening, he went out as the night technician, servicing restaurants and other commercial establishments. When he transferred from Blinn to Texas State University, McCarty kept his ABC career going, accepting a position in the firm’s Austin office.
“As I was about to graduate with my degree in exercise and sports science, minor in business, I felt I had reached a crossroads,” McCarty says. “I had a serious conversation with Bobby Jenkins and other members of the management team. They encouraged me to stay with the ABC family to grow into a management role. I decided that was good advice.”
Continually improving. Through the years, McCarty has learned every aspect of pest management. Now service manager of ABC’s green division, Chem-free Organic Pest & Lawn Services, he is particularly well-versed in IPM and green practices. In fact, the GreenPro-certified technician conducts regular training sessions for his co-workers, delivers presentations on customer service to the broader ABC workforce and serves as a go-to resource when difficult circumstances arise.
|Toes in the sand, heart in the community
Colby McCarty is a fitness buff. When he’s not working, he’s playing — beach volleyball mostly. He was a member of the men’s volleyball team at Texas State University, competing, coaching and earning a spot on the all-conference team. After graduation, McCarty took up sand volleyball, and he plays doubles in tournaments nationwide. He also enjoys rock climbing, adventure races and obstacle courses, and bike riding. He’s training with his fiancée, Jennifer Stone, to compete in his first triathlon as well.
When he can, McCarty puts his athleticism and pest management talents toward good causes. For example, he participated in the 2011 Tough Mudder Run, a benefit for the Wounded Warrior Project testing participants’ strength, stamina, perseverance and teamwork. He has provided pro bono pest management services to Child Protective Services. He also volunteers his time to the Adopt a Highway Program, American Red Cross and American Heart Association.
“Colby meets adversity head-on, taking a ‘small bites eats an elephant’ approach to problems; he sees a disgruntled customer as an opportunity to wow someone,” says ABC General Manager Brian Kelly. “He saves accounts that look unsalvageable and makes it look easy.”
McCarty admits he loves the challenges customers and other technicians present to him. “Life can get boring if you’re not put to the test every now and then,” he says. “I consider myself a firefighter when I go out to solve a customer’s problem. It’s all about investigating where the issue is coming from — maybe some conducive conditions were overlooked or a treatment spot was missed — and then offering a solution.”
Many times that solution is customer communication and education, says McCarty. He shares, “We can do our part, but the customer needs to be proactive as well. Teaching our customers how to identify harborage issues and other conducive conditions is vital to our success. This is especially true with green pest management. We go over the IPM report with them, pointing out trouble areas like full gutters, standing water, plumbing leaks and such. We communicate very clearly to them that their active involvement maximizes the effectiveness of their pest management program.”
His biggest pest challenge? Rodents. McCarty says that, compared to insects, rodents are a very different animal, so to speak, in that homeowners are often ready to pack up and abandon their homes once rodents move in.
“These situations are generally the most sensitive,” he says. “When I inspect a rodent-infested home, I have no intentions of leaving until I’ve identified the problem. These customers need peace of mind. Once we have identified the entry point, sealed it and eliminated the problem, the homeowner is visibly elated. It’s a privilege for us to give a family their home back, pest free, and it’s not something they soon forget.”
Family business. McCarty says he has built his successful career by mirroring the traits and behaviors of his father, Randy, who is now technical director with ABC in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Specifically, he learned the importance of being genuinely friendly and respectful of others, providing incomparable service and supporting his co-workers unconditionally.
“When I offered Colby his first job while he was in high school, I had no idea he would choose this industry as a career,” says Randy, who has held positions of increasing responsibility at ABC since 1982. “But two years later, when he became the youngest in ABC’s history to earn his certified applicator’s license, I knew he would stay with it. His hard work and empathy toward others has made him tremendously successful. He always keeps the customer at heart and doesn’t stop until he knows all is well in the customer’s home.”
Colby and Randy aren’t the only members of the McCarty clan to embrace the industry. Mary, Colby’s mom, also worked for ABC with Randy while in San Antonio under Robert W. Jenkins Sr., founder of ABC and father to the Jenkins brothers — Bobby, president of ABC Austin/San Antonio/College Station; Raleigh, president of ABC Houston; and Dennis, president of ABC Dallas/Fort Worth. Later, Randy and Mary opened an ABC office in Kerrville, Texas. Colby’s brothers are part of the ABC team as well — Brady works in sales for ABC Houston, and Trey recently began working in ABC’s Austin office. Texas State University freshman Emily, the youngest McCarty, has yet to claim her career intentions, but her business marketing focus doesn’t preclude the possibility of her joining her siblings.
“When you spend time with your kids, teaching them what’s right, as Mary and I have, they grow up striving to find rewarding paths,” says Randy. “All of our children are hard-working and driven. They’re making names for themselves and we have always encouraged them to persevere through thick and thin. This isn’t always an easy industry, but it’s a great industry. In 30 years, I’ve never regretted the choice I made. I can see them thriving here as well.”
A bright, green future. As his experience continues to accumulate and his expertise continues to grow, Colby McCarty aspires to take his career to even loftier heights. “My goal is to grow into a higher-level management position and to become an authoritative source for customer service education and training. I’m confident in my abilities and dedicated to contributing to the ongoing success of Chem-free.”
Glowing reviews from his customers may help him get there. “Colby has a portfolio of accolades that reads like he should be in his 50s, yet he’s not even 30. He has become the face, heart and soul of Chem-free Organics,” Kelly shares. “He’s the type of guy you wish you could clone.”
The author is a frequent contributor to PCT and can be contacted at email@example.com.