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Building a Successful Pool and Spa Business

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Building a Successful Pool and Spa Business

Building a thriving business from scratch is just but the second most difficult task for some pool and spa business owners. The hardest task of all is successfully handing it over as you head for retirement. It’s a scary task, especially after sacrificing a lot and caring for it. It is without a doubt you’d like it to survive and continue growing.

Building a Successful Pool and Spa Business

There are many similarities between a family business and a child. A family business is like the birth of a child and its guidance to maturity. It is always a secret wish for every owner of a pool and spa business that one of their children will take over the business. This is to give the parent-owner a smooth, beneficial transition into retirement.

Most parent-owners have had this dream despite the various challenges like family conflicts, non-interested or even unable children.

Currently, a third-generation family-owned pool and spa business, Jet line Products, is one firm that has managed to undergo a successful transition. The results have been satisfying results for both generations. The retiring generation made away with good proceeds from their years of hard work. On the other hand, the new generation maintained important positions in a new era.

Warren Feder, an associate at Carl Marks Advisors, an investment bank that guides middle market companies, led the team on this successful sale. From his experience in facilitating sales of family owned businesses, he has valuable advice for family owners interested in a successful transition while maintaining family bonds and still enjoy the fruits of their efforts.

Family dimensions can complicate the operations of a family business. Based on statistics, most family business hardly makes it to the third generation and if they do they very few go beyond that. It is an uphill task to work through a family’s challenges and the challenges of a business both combined.

Many family business owners headed for retirement believe the best solution is to sell the business. The business should also operate separately from the family, even though this may not be their first instinct.

Jet Line is a pool equipment distributor established in 1971 by the Epstein family. By early last year, it was in its third generation of ownership.

There were different family groups with varying objectives. For the second generation, several siblings wanted to exit and cash out. On the other hand, for the third generation, three of them, Andy, Josh, and Brett Epstein, were seeking different opportunities the business could present. They wanted to grow the firm.

To reach an amicable solution, they held meetings and tried to keep the issue as confidential as possible. However, word leaked, and to their surprise, POOLCORP, their biggest competitor, reached out in response to the rumors.

After much persistence, POOLCORP eventually got to have a meeting with Jet Line. The meeting turned out to be a turning point for both companies. The meeting ended in a deal, and the company was finally closed at the end of September. The deal was satisfactory for both parties where Andy and Josh Epstein joined the new company holding senior positions, and the second generation siblings cashed out from the sale proceeds.

Helpful advice on a successful sale

From the successful Jet Line sale, Feder highlights some vital lessons to facilitate the sale of a pool and spa business, specifically a family business. The first point is to limit the players involved. One member is the most preferable. If you involve equal players with an equal say, it will make it difficult to get to a deal.

Secondly, get good advisors and allow them to do their work. Let’s face it; very few family business owners know how to sell their companies. You may need market experts and people who know how to structure deals.

The third element is the firm’s record keeping, and financial system as the buyer needs proof of its profits and revenue. Purchasers can send in their accountants to validate your figures. If you have good figures, it makes it easier to strike a deal; however, it makes the process a bit challenging if you have bad figures.

One of the biggest challenges in a pool and spa business sale is that expertise and experience lie with the management looking to cash out and leave the business. This makes it hard for the buyer to grow the business successfully. At this point, procedures, systems, organization, and having experienced people for management come in as an advantage. You need to know how the business will run after your exit unless you sell to an experienced buyer. In some cases, the owner can stay for a 2-3 year period to oversee a successful transition.

Covid Symptoms; Business Weariness

Covid has altered everything just like in every area of finance and economy, in business sales and acquisition. Feder reflects on 2020 events as increasing the pace of activity.

Many older people suffered from Covid, which may be a huge turning point in the pool and spa business industry. Even though a number of people escaped this harrowing experience alive, several people opt for their health and lives compared to business. As a result, according to Feder, it is an expectation that more families will be open to selling their businesses earlier and stay to facilitate a successful pool and spa business transition to avoid health risks when aged.

Pool News coverage brought to you by Pool Magazine's own Marcus Packer. Marcus Packer is a 20 year pool industry veteran pool builder and pool service technician. In addition to being a swimming pool professional, Marcus has been a writer and long time contributor for Newsweek Magazine's home improvement section and more recently for Florida Travel + Life. Have a story idea or tip you'd like to share with Pool Magazine? Email mpacker@poolmagazine.com your story idea.

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Op Editorials

Keeping Pool Contractors Out Of The Courtroom

Stay out of the courtroom by knowing what NOT to say…

Swimming Pool Expert Witness

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A client contacted a pool contractor, wanting a bid to perform repair work on a job completed by another contractor. The client said they were not pursuing litigation or making an insurance claim – they just want the project fixed correctly.

Avoid Making Statements That May Come Back To Haunt You

If you find yourself in this situation – tread carefully. ONLY provide a written estimate of your proposed repairs and your installation specifications. Oftentimes, once the client receives the estimated cost of repairs, they will change their mind about litigation or filing an insurance claim against the original contractor. If you made statements about the cause of a failure, quality of the workmanship or code compliance, it will come back to haunt you.

The pool contractor was subpoenaed to appear in court, to repeat the verbal & written statements he made about the causation and workmanship. And he was only compensated at a rate predetermined by the court – less than minimum wage, like a juror. He was also sued by the original contractor for slander & libel, due to some false assumptions he made and had expressed about the failure.

How do you avoid being drawn into litigation as a witness for the plaintiff?

Simple…It is human nature to want to impress people with our knowledge. But, this is the time to “bite your lip.”

It is best to listen to the client’s complaint, take diligent notes & copious pictures and prepare a repair estimate back in the office. Limit your comments to the weather & sports. If you see things they are not aware of, merely include them in your cost of repairs. Do not discuss the workmanship or the suspected cause of any failure.

Remember – They already know the project is screwed up… that’s why they called you. If they want to know WHY it’s screwed up, then they should hire someone who will perform a thorough inspection, forensic evaluation or testing and render a written opinion – for a fee. Stay out of the courtroom, by learning what not to say.

Swimming Pool Expert Witness

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Pool Builder

Scott Walk is one of the Top Pool Designers / Pool Builders in Georgia

Chatting with Scott Walk, one of the leading pool designers in Georgia today.

Pool Magazine Editor

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Scott Walk - Premier Pools - Pool Kings - Top Pool Designers

We got the chance to catch up with one of the leading pool builders in the state of Georgia today. Scott Walk of Scott Walk’s Premier Pools & Spas in Alpharetta, GA has made a name for himself. The last few years, Walk has worked to become one of the top rated pool builders in the local area.

A member of the Premier Pools & Spas franchise, the Walk family actually independently owns and operates two locations – one in North Georgia, and the other in Chattanooga, TN. Their family business has been one of the cornerstones that model and define the successful formula Premier Pools has been able to reiterate throughout the country.

Building Pools is a Family Business

Scott Walk who comes from a previous background in construction and home remodeling, first got his start in the pool industry approximately ten years ago. Together, he and his wife Kim Walk have established one of the largest pool construction operations in the state of Georgia. Their son Ashton also works for the family’s thriving business and has been closely learning the industry side by side with his father over the past five years.

The Walk Family owns & operates two Premier Pools & Spas franchises, one in North Georgia and another in Chattanooga, TN.
The Walk Family owns & operates two Premier Pools & Spas franchises, one in North Georgia and another in Chattanooga, TN.

Walk attended the prestigious Genesis program. He says he’s focused now on becoming one of the top pool builders in the country. SWD registered with Genesis, less than fifty individuals nationwide have achieved the certification level he has.

Pool Kings Project: Georgia Peach Pool Paradise

Walk has had one of his projects showcased nationally on the DIY Network hit TV show Pool Kings. Consequently, the episode helped draw mass attention to his work. The reality home improvement show is quite popular. Each episode has been watched by millions of television viewers and is closely followed in the pool industry.

We asked Walk what it was like working on such a high end project, and what gave him the skillset to start building luxury inground pools.

“Working on the Pool Kings show was a unique opportunity. It is a rare privilege to be able to showcase your work to such a diverse audience. The feedback we’ve received has been incredible.”

Scott Walk – Owner of Scott Walk’s Premier Pools & Spas

“Initially we went through several changes in the design process, but ultimately wound up with a concept that delivered on all of the clients wishlist items.” said Walk. “This particular project was difficult. We faced some challenges with excavation and the weather.”

Walk's work was showcased on the hit TV show Pool Kings. His lazy river pool was featured in Season 7.
Walk’s work was showcased on the hit TV show Pool Kings. His lazy river pool was featured in Season 7.

Walk said that his two main concerns throughout the project were being able to deliver a premium product to the homeowner while meeting filming and scheduling deadlines. “You know, they make it look so easy on TV. Trust me it is alot harder than it looks.” said Walk.

Walk’s prior experience in building luxury pools assisted him heavily on this particular project. Since attending the Genesis program, Walk says he has been consistently increasing the level of difficulty and complexity in the projects he has undertaken.

“They were looking for over the top pool designs for the show. We had to deliver!” said Walk. “We were able to showcase the range of our abilities and included some phenomenal pool features not found in your typical build.”

Luxury Pools - Pool Kings - Scott Walk - Premier Pools & Spas
Walk sets the standard for luxury pool builders in Georgia with over the top designs like this one.

Luxury Pool Features

Scott guided us through some of the remarkable amenities in this resort style luxury pool. “There’s really so much we built into this backyard. We’ve got the beach entry pool with bubblers. A lazy river with a bridge to an island that has a super sized spa.” said Walk. “We’ve also incorporated a slide and two waterfalls in this pool. Not to mention the work that went into building this incredible outdoor kitchen area.”

From start to finish this particular project was over 5 months in the making said Walk. In the end, he and his crew worked nearly round the clock. It was necessary in order to meet the deadlines for the episode to run in time. Ultimately, his team delivered and in magnificent fashion. The completed pool and backyard is nothing short of breathtaking.

Walk and his team worked hard and the effort shows. Consequently, the end result is a truly unique and one of a kind luxury pool design. This is a five star resort style backyard that any homeowner would envy. We asked Walk where his inspiration comes from on these projects and what the design process is like for him.

“I really learned so much from the Genesis program that guides me in my design process today. I also find tremendous inspiration from the other builders in my organization. These are people who are really pushing the envelope today in pool engineering.”

Scott Walk – Owner of Scott Walk’s PremIer Pools & Spas

Scott Walk on Pool Design

“I always start my designs in Structure Studios first. We will create a walk through of the entire pool area in 3D for the homeowner. This helps them visualize the design concept, features and amenities.” said Walk. “I find that this adds value to the process. It truly immerses the client into giving us the feedback necessary to design them their dream backyard,” continued Walk.

Walk’s experience in building luxury inground pools has led to a long list of satisfied customers. It has also helped make his firm one of the top rated builders in the state. He attributes much of his success to his organization. “We are firm believers in the Premier formula.” said Walk. “That has really been what has helped us become so successful.”

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Pool News

Structure Studios Announces Version 3 of Industry-Leading Design Software

Version 3 Combines Stunning 3D Technology with Radically Improved Performance

Pool Magazine Editor

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Pool Rendering Software - VIP3D Version 3 - Structure Studios

Structure Studios today announced the release of Vip3D Version 3, Pool Studio Version 3, and VizTerra Version 3, all available for download now. With a totally redesigned 3D Engine and a dramatically improved 3D library, Version 3 of each software package gives pool designers, landscapers, and builders the tools they need to quickly and easily create elegant 3D presentations that amaze and delight their customers.

VIP3D Version 3

Version 3 leverages the most advanced technology to make available powerful and innovative tools, features, models, and materials that radically improve the design process. With Version 3, users can emotionally engage more clients with stunning, interactive, and immersive presentations that make their virtual outdoor living spaces feel like home.

VIP3D Version 3 is the most popular softwares being used today for generating sophisticated 3D pool renderings.

“Last year alone, designers created 1.8 million outdoor living projects with our software.”

Noah nehlich – structure studios

“After a year of remarkable growth in the pool and landscape industry, including a significant uptick in project inquiries and high demand for pool and landscape design and installation, Version 3 now makes it faster and easier for designers, landscapers, and builders to rise to the occasion and not just meet that demand but also share with their clients a vision of their outdoor living space like none other.” said Noah Nehlich.

Version 3.0 includes numerous enhancements such as grass, strip lighting, and exciting new visual effects.

New Enhancements for Elegant 3D Presentations

The many new features and benefits of Version 3 include numerous time-saving tools that make it as enjoyable for designers to create outdoor living spaces as it is for clients to explore them.

  • Next-level realistic real-time 3D rendering
  • Edit shapes instantly in 3D
  • More automatic terrain data
  • All new material library

Vip3D Version 3 also includes exclusive new features, like 3D grass, strip lighting, and new visual effects and materials, as well as exclusive new tools, like Fast Mode, professional camera tools, and sky and water controls, that make it incredibly easy to add the perfect finishing touches to projects, faster and more beautifully than ever before.

To learn more about Version 3, click here [https://blog.structurestudios.com/software/version-3-outdoor-living-design-software-next-level-3d-is-here].

Availability

Version 3 is available now as a completely free update for all current Vip3D, Pool Studio, and VizTerra members and as a download for new members. For membership terms, system requirements, and help determining if your current system is compatible with Version 3, visit www.StructureStudios.com or call (800) 778-8996.

About Structure Studios

Since 2000, Structure Studios of Henderson, Nevada, has been offering the highest quality, most realistic, and easiest-to-use professional real-time 3D design and presentation software in the industry. By continuously improving the most revolutionary and innovative 3D design software, Structure Studios fulfills the goal of improving lives through 3D experiences by empowering designers, builders, and landscapers to achieve absolutely spectacular results. To learn more about Structure Studios, visit www.StructureStudios.com or call (800) 778-8996.

Media Contact

Stefanie Dunn
Structure Studios
(702) 433-0274
stefanie@structurestudios.com
www.StructureStudios.com

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