I started as a salesman almost 25 years ago. Boy, was I ignorant. My godfather (recently departed) had a pool on Long Island. All I knew was that a pool held water and you swam in it. I didn't know a pump from a filter, or a skimmer from a return. My dad was a pool builder eons ago. He could build pools, he could build houses, and he could build pools in houses. Being a schlepp for him really didn't qualify me for this business. I worked for a private university before I got or fell into this business. This is one of the two ways people become “Pool People.” The other is a birthright, somewhat.
Working as a salesman for three years was a great learning experience. I learned how to serve homeowners and learned a lot of what not to do. I always remember a phone call that my ex-boss took one day. He was yelling and screaming at a customer and asked "Did you pay me?" The person must have said, "Yes," because my boss then said a few choice words and hung up. I then knew that was soon to be his demise; he soon closed his doors, and I was out of a job. He taught me what to do and a lot more of what not to do with customers. Unfortunately, he is like the Phoenix, who resurrects every so often under a different name.
The next spring my ex-partner and I scrambled together some money. Like any good young man, I borrowed money from my family. My mother and grandmother gave me some money. We knew some installers from the old company and advertised and got it going. We grew the business working 100+ hours a week (easier before wife and kids). That lasted a few years and we went our separate ways. We also had different philosophical views on customer service.
We have learned so much in almost 25 years. It is scary how I was able to even get started. I am very driven, sometimes just out of fear of failure, and now like a lion needing to take care of the pride. I strive in these tough times. Our company now has a more likable feel to it. My installers are knowledgeable, neat, and very respectful. I go out of my way for my customers; just ask some of the ones that have been with me for years. Some I have built their pools, and still open and close them every year. They are great people, and I never want to be without them. Now approaching 25 years in the business, I have become very proficient in measuring difficult liners and covers. I specialize in concrete conversions, and I have even traveled all the way to Virginia just to measure a concrete pool for conversion. Approaching 4,500 liners and 2,500 covers later, I think I've got it.
We also provide our service to dealers and manufacturers alike. You know you are doing well when other pool professionals (retail stores and service companies) are coming to you for their own customers. We also deal with insurance companies and other contractors to help their customers. Our ever expanding network of associates is something we never take for granted.
A few years ago, I was standing in a pool by myself wondering how to take care of a mess left behind by, let's say, someone less experienced than myself. I thought of the solution and had the answer. This bag of tricks that I have accumulated through the years is what gives me purpose in our industry. I have even had the honor of being able to teach some of my peers through the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals. I enjoy the daily challenge and see something new every year, usually before April. I would like to thank all my staff and even some that have worked with me in the past for all their great work.