The Power of Water – Antonios Tsapatakis Continues to Inspire
Antonios Tsapatakis is a name that resonates with inspiration and perseverance in the world of paralympic sports. The Greek athlete has achieved remarkable success in the pool, breaking records and winning medals at international competitions. His athletic achievements are a source of inspiration for many in the pool industry and beyond.
Antonios Tsapatakis is an Inspiration to Many
Antonios Tsapatakis became paraplegic after a spinal cord injury due to a motorbike accident in 2006. Despite this setback, he did not let his injury hold him back and decided to pursue swimming as a way to improve his physical condition and stay active.
Tsapatakis has achieved great success in the sport, obtaining many awards in national, European, and global competitions. He holds two national records and has won more than 20 medals including gold, silver and bronze.
His dedication and determination led him to compete in the 2012 Paralympics in London, where he finished in 4th place in the 100m breaststroke SB4 classification. In 2015, he achieved a significant milestone in his career, breaking the European record and winning the silver medal at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Swimming World Championship in Glasgow.
The Power of Water
Tsapatakis’ story is a true inspiration, showing that with hard work and determination, anything is possible. He is a shining example of how one can overcome obstacles and achieve greatness, even in the face of adversity
In addition to his impressive athletic achievements, Antonios Tsapatakis is also known for his work as a motivational speaker. He has given TED talks and other presentations, sharing his story of overcoming obstacles and achieving success in the face of adversity.
One of his most notable TED talks was entitled “I Am a Fighter“. In this talk, Antonis shared his personal story of overcoming his disability and pursuing his dreams. He spoke about the importance of determination, perseverance, and never giving up on oneself. He also emphasized the importance of a positive attitude and the role it played in his success.
Tsapatakis also gives speeches in various events, sharing his story and motivating people to overcome their own challenges. He is a great example of how one can achieve greatness by staying positive and pushing through difficult times.
Additionally, Tsapatakis is also involved in various activities that aim to promote and develop swimming for people with disabilities. He works closely with organizations and programs that focus on accessibility and inclusion in swimming, encouraging more people with disabilities to take up the sport and achieve their own goals.
In fact, Tsapatakis even co-authored a children’s book with Elena Thoidou. The book, entitled “To oneiro,” which translates to “The Dream,” was launched in June 2016, and it was a significant accomplishment for Tsapatakis. The book aimed to familiarize children and their parents with the concept of equality and to convey meaningful messages regarding children with special needs.
Swimming pools have definitely played a vital role in shaping Antonios Tsapatakis’ life. They have been his training ground, his sanctuary, and his stage. It has been where he has spent countless hours in the water, honing his skills and perfecting his technique. It is in the pool that Antonis has found the freedom and joy of movement that he cherishes.
How Paul Porter Built The World’s Largest Pool Company
Paul Porter is the CEO of Premier Franchise Management (PFM) the largest pool company in the world. The firm he first founded with Keith Harbeck in 1988 as a single office in Sacramento, has grown to a nationwide franchise with several subsidiary brands. Today Premier Pools & Spas have locations across the country. Consequently, they’ve grown into the largest pool franchise in the industry. It’s sister brands, Pinnacle Pools & Spas, Premier Pool Service, and Pinnacle Pool Service help comprise over 175 offices coast to coast.
In addition to running PFM, Paul Porter appeared on three seasons of the hit cable tv show Pool Kings co-starring with his son, Brian Porter. Together, they traveled all over the United States building one over-the-top resort-style pool after another while at the same time working to propel Premier Pools & Spas as a household name in the minds of consumers.
Recently I caught up with Paul Porter after the Pool & Spa Show in Atlantic City and had the opportunity to interview him on the Pool Magazine Podcast. In the course of our conversation, he opened up and shared details about his journey. Suffice it to say, his story is one that is truly remarkable.
Pool Magazine (PM): Paul, your story is a unique one and the type of American success story that I think a lot of people would be interested in learning more about. I’m eager to try and get you to share some of that with us today.
Paul Porter (PP): I think I relate so much to the pool industry because so many of us have a humble beginning. We don’t have the necessary college pedigree. For instance, there is no college that graduates pool builders. We all learn through osmosis and I was no different. I grew up with a single mother on welfare and the only reason I share that is that when you’re just trying to survive in the world, you really have no idea what you’re going to do after school. My idea of people owning a pool when I was growing up is that only rich people own swimming pools. When I had an opportunity back in the mid-eighties to go to work for a pool builder, I thought I just hit the jackpot.
My first experience in sales was selling vacuum cleaners door to door. You get ten doors slammed in your face before you get one person that wants to let you in the house. This is the first opportunity I had of selling anything where somebody actually said, you know what I’ve been dreaming about a swimming pool for years and years and I’d like to have you come into my home and show me what you can do to create and fulfill my dream. All I had to do was convince them that I was the right person to shepherd their dream and that I had a better value proposition.
Before I started Premier Pools, I worked for another pool company where I was doing really well. They asked me to go and open up an office for them in another area so I went into the San Francisco Bay area and started building pools. In nine months, I became the largest pool builder in that marketplace.
One day I got a call from my boss Ed in Sacramento and he said, ‘I need you to come in, the business is in trouble.’ At the time, I’d been in Antioch, California for nine months. We had a home and were building a pool. I was doing really well, but he held the license.
He said, ‘I’m done. I’m either going to close down the business or you can come in and try to pull this thing out.’ So we put our house up for sale and moved back to Sacramento. We sold our house and got $70,000 equity. That was more money than I’d I’ve ever had in my life and maybe some folks can relate out there. My boss at the time said, ‘Paul, you have been so doggone loyal that I’d like to sell you some stock in the company. Matter of fact, I’d like to sell you 10% of the stock.”
I’m sure you know as well as everybody else does how the next part of the story goes. He sold me 10% of the stock for the $70,000 on my life savings at the time. I thought, here’s this kid from the wrong side of the tracks, raised by a single mother, gets an opportunity to do something he loves and gets an ownership stake in the business. So I went ahead and did it. His company at the time was about $250,000 in debt and we started paying back the debt.
We bought a house in Folsom and started building pools in my neighborhood. I actually had about 18 pools going in my neighborhood at the time. One day Keith Harbeck and I showed up to work and there was a padlock on the front door. Ed was gone. He left in the middle of the night with my life savings.
PM: You must’ve felt incredibly defeated at that point. What did you do from there?
PP: We really didn’t know what to do at that time. I had 23 pools in construction. I think the company had around 50 or 60 pools in total. The people that I thought were rich at that time, I realized they weren’t rich, they were just hardworking people. All their life they had dreamed about pool ownership and I saw the anguish on their face when I said the company was going out of business.
I remember thinking as people were pounding on my door in the middle of the night, yelling through the door, ‘We’re going to kill you!’, I asked myself how can this be? At the time, I was only 27 years old. How could I be so stupid to trust somebody that much? My wife was at the time nine months pregnant with our third child and we’d had our cars repossessed right out of our driveway.
We saw their dreams being dashed and we decided we had to figure out some way to make those customers as whole as we possibly could. So Keith and I did everything we were capable of doing for no charge to try and finish these pools and managed to get every single pool finished in ten weeks.
Keith came up to me one day and says, ‘Paul, what are you going to do now that we finished all these pools?’, and I said, ‘You know what, I cannot leave on this note. We’ve got to do this right.’ We had a responsibility to our employees. I actually had to borrow $50 at the time from my mom. My wife drew a picture of a pool on a flyer and we went down to Kinkos and got 5,000 flyers. Keith and I and the rest of our family started passing out flyers door to door. We did that for two weeks, going out every day, 8 hours a day. Finally, on the third week, we came home and our answering machine was blinking that red light.
I picked up the phone and the guy says, ‘Hey, I live in Elk Grove and I got a flyer on my door. I’m looking for an estimate’. I was excited, but I was also afraid because what was the story I was going to tell him; that I worked for a company that ended up going out of business and damaged a lot of customers?
I showed up and went through the presentation. He liked what he saw and then he asked me if I had any referrals that he could talk to. I said, ‘No, not anyone who would say anything you’d like to hear.’ He said, ‘Do you have any pools you can show me?’, I said, ‘Probably not too many people want me in their backyard right now.’ I said, ‘Here’s the deal. This is my story and nobody needs to work harder for you. Nobody understands what you’re looking for more than I do. If you want to pay the subcontractors directly, this is the price that you pay. This is how much money I’m going to make on this.’
He looked at me and said, ‘You know what? There’s something about you that I believe and I trust. I’m going to go ahead and give you the job’. I think way back then in 1988, the pool was around $15,000. It was a small pool, but it was everything to this guy. To say that we exceeded expectations would probably be the understatement of my life.
We did everything we possibly could to make sure that he was pleased. We said, we’d build a pool in six weeks and completed it in three. He was delighted. Fortunately, the next-door neighbor saw what we did and hired us to do her pool. The third pool we built was for a swim coach at the local high school, and he sent us 13 jobs. That was 35 years and about 100,000 pools ago.
By 2003, we were doing over $100 million a year in business in Sacramento and then the Great Recession hit us in 2008. We went without a salary for two years. Through that period of time, we just borrowed against our houses and did whatever we could do to hang on to every employee we possibly could.
In 2010 the market began to recover a bit. Keith and I kind of just looked at each other and said, ‘We made this, how do we want to finish our career?’ I saw so much plight in that period and we lost 70% of our industry during that timeframe.
So many people that had put their entire lives into the industry had to leave because they had only themselves to rely on. There were so many things that I had learned from the previous 20-plus years I had in the swimming pool industry. I learned how to survive by making sure that we had visibility of our numbers to have an efficient business. I realized that the industry had to transform. Mom and Pops were going away and you had to consolidate just because you had to create scalability.
I just thought that this was a great opportunity to start consolidating the industry. To help out existing pool builders as well to elevate the experience for the customer simultaneously. In 2010, I started licensing, and I just started knocking on doors and calling people. I told them what we were doing and explained to them how with consolidation we could stand together shoulder to shoulder and that if we had a commitment to creating a great experience for the customer that the consumer was ready.
PM: When did you switch from a licensing model to a franchising model?
PP: In 2014, we started to roll out our franchise model. Again, it was a model that most people in the industry weren’t very familiar with or why they needed it.
The franchises we brought on saw a tremendous amount of success. So many of our guys had been in business for a long time. I always tell the Jeff Boyer story (owner of the Premier Pools & Spas – Temecula franchise). His family was in the business for 30 years and was only doing $500,000 a year in business. Today, Jeff’s doing $30 million a year in business with us because he’s adopted not only the philosophy of our organization but the contributions he brought to it.
As a collaborative group, we figured out ways to scale. We knew how to do it because we started in our garage and grew that to a $100 million dollar business. Along the way, we taught builders how to scale their businesses, how to recruit people, how to bring on salespeople, schedulers, and construction people, and then how to fix their costs so that they could afford those things.
PM: Is that when you started to get mass acceptance in the industry?
PP: The more that the industry saw that we were growing, the more acceptance we had in the marketplace. We grew that for the first seven years to about 45 or 50 offices. About three or four years ago, we started to go out into the marketplace and find business people. We said it’s more important that we look for people with character and business acumen. We could teach them what we know, and our business started to grow.
From 2016 through 2017, we added about 70 new franchises and in 2021, we opened up another division called Pinnacle Pools & Spas. That division was going to be part of our franchise business that just focused on fiberglass pool construction. In the last two years, we brought on 22 Pinnacle franchises.
We wanted to complete the experience with the customer. We spent all this time creating a relationship with the customer. What we wanted to do is support what we sold. So two years ago we started a pool service division. We wanted it to be dynamic, not just somebody that took care of the maintenance of the pool but someone protecting that experience and associated with the builder. We’ve been doing that for two years, and now have 35 Pinnacle and Premier pool service companies, and we’re growing those pretty quickly.
Because of scalability, we generated $750,000,000 in revenue last year. Now we can afford to do these things at scale and give our people a better presence and also offer them things like sophisticated websites and brochures, as well as continuous onboarding and training cycles through our system. Ultimately, what we’re doing, is we’re trying to build a generational business. We’re trying to make sure the brand means something to the consumer and when they look at that brand it stands for quality, integrity, and value.
PM: Your franchisees are highly profitable and have a dominant and visible presence in some of the largest pool markets. What kind of growth has your organization seen over the past few years?
PP: We’re growing at about a 40% clip a year right now. So we were up $250,000,000 in revenue last year. You would think that would be from some of these bigger markets, but it’s actually from some of the secondary markets. That is what is so extraordinary. We have so many people that achieve at the highest level, and they have tenured, long-term staff there, and they continue to grow and create market share each and every year. Sacramento alone did $130,000,000 of business last year between Sacramento and Modesto. Over 1,300 pools, just absolutely extraordinary.
PM: We look at your map now and it appears that there is a Premier or Pinnacle office in almost every state in America. What’s your target moving forward, Paul? I mean, how much bigger can you get?
PP: We think we have a lot of opportunity. We think that our roadmap leads to about 500 Premier and Pinnacle franchises and unlimited service franchises. We think there’s an opportunity for hundreds and hundreds of service franchises and a need for consolidation.
PM: Do you feel like this is something that you could extend to places outside of the United States into maybe countries like Canada, Mexico or maybe even Australia?
PP: Well, we’re going into Canada this year with the new brand, Premier was too generic under Canadian trademark law. We’re already licensed and we’re moving into Canada this year. We’ve set our sights on Australia and Mexico and a few other places, but we have to duplicate the process and we think we have a real opportunity with fiberglass to go global. That’s something that we’re going to focus on.
PM: We’ve seen the partnership with Latham has really helped you leverage access to lower prices on fiberglass shells, are you trying to put the Hydura line in every one of your markets now?
PP: We are. We became, in our year of installing fiberglass pools, the single biggest builder and installer of fiberglass pools in the world. We did about 1,600 shells this last year. We had Latham start building us a line that we have actually designed ourselves and have unique shapes and styles that we can take to the market. We just wanted to be able to put our stamp on it and say that we’re building this particular pool for different reasons, it provides different needs for our customers and creates differentiation.
PM: Starting at the beginning of 2022 we began to notice a shifting trend in consumer behaviors heading out of Covid. What do you think the rest of 2023 looks like moving into the new pool season and how is your organization best positioned to weather a changing market?
PP: We were up actually in 2022. I know that the industry as a whole was down 20 plus percent. It was a pretty devastating fourth quarter, but we ended up actually with our best year ever. We drew a lot of leads, over 130,000 last year.
Leads this year are more expensive. We’re driving more people to our website, but it’s not converting. We’re actually driving about 33% more people to our site, but we’re converting 40% less. Clearly, there’s still a desire to own a swimming pool, but right now, because lack of conviction or confidence in the marketplace, they’re not converting to a lead and they’re not getting estimates.
I think a lot of this has been because consumers have heard that pools have risen to over $70,000 a pool. I still believe the desire is out there so what we’re trying to do is reach the customer in different ways.
Listen to our entire conversation with Paul Porter, CEO of Premier Franchise Management on the Pool Magazine podcast.
Feds Seize Counterfeit Filters From China at Long Beach Seaport
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers assigned to the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport, in coordination with Import Specialists assigned to the Machinery Center of Excellence and Expertise (Machinery Center), intercepted a shipment of 3,940 counterfeit water filters bearing unauthorized National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) logos. The seizure, which took place on April 10, highlights the ongoing issue of counterfeit products.
Routine Inspection Uncovers Fake Filters From China
During a routine examination of mixed ocean freight from China, CBP officers identified the counterfeit filters. Import Specialists confirmed that the filters displayed fraudulent NSF certification marks that had been recorded for border enforcement through CBP’s e-Recordation program.
Counterfeit water filters pose a significant risk to consumer health and safety, as they often fail to meet the necessary standards for filtration. The use of copied trademarks, branding, and misleading claims makes it challenging for consumers to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit filters. While the water may appear and taste fine, these counterfeit filters have been found to be ineffective in removing lead and other harmful chemicals.
The pool and spa industry, in particular, is certainly not immune to the influx of counterfeit products. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) warns about the potential hazards associated with counterfeit water filters, underscoring the importance of purchasing from legitimate sources.
CBP at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport is dedicated to protecting the health and safety of the American consumer. Since February 2021, they have seized a staggering 67,342 counterfeit replacement water filters, pool and spa filters, and other filtration products with an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $3,216,900.
This interception is part of CBP’s broader efforts to combat intellectual property rights violations. In fiscal year 2022, CBP nationwide seized nearly 21,000 shipments containing 25 million counterfeit goods, with an estimated MSRP value of nearly $3 billion if they had been genuine.
To raise consumer awareness about the dangers of counterfeit products, CBP has launched the Truth Behind Counterfeits public awareness campaign. Through educational initiatives at airports and online resources, they aim to inform consumers about the consequences associated with purchasing counterfeit and pirated goods.
If you suspect or have information regarding fraudulent or illegal trade activity, CBP encourages reporting through the e-Allegations Online Trade Violation Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT. Intellectual property rights (IPR) violations can be reported to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at https://www.iprcenter.gov/referral/ or by calling 1-866-IPR-2060.
As consumers, it is crucial to stay vigilant and informed about the risks of counterfeit products. For more information about the risks of purchasing counterfeit water filters and the Filter It Out campaign, visit https://www.filteritout.org/. To learn more about NSF certification and ensure the authenticity of products, visit http://www.nsf.org/consumer-resources/what-is-nsf-certification.
Jake Paul Buys $15.7M Mansion With Luxury Pool In Puerto Rico
As far as celebrity pools go, Jake Paul now has a beauty. The renowned boxing sensation, has added a magnificent new asset to his collection – a sprawling mansion in Puerto Rico that came complete with a beautiful backyard oasis. Situated in the picturesque San Juan area, this luxurious property, acquired from former MLB star Yadier Molina, showcases Paul’s affinity for opulence and sets the stage for his extravagant lifestyle. With its stunning architectural design and opulent features, the mansion promises to be a sanctuary of grandeur and indulgence.
Boasting eight bedrooms, eight full bathrooms, and two half bathrooms, this two-story masterpiece spans over 12,000 square feet, offering ample space for Paul to enjoy the comforts of luxury living. The meticulous attention to detail is evident as guests step into the elegant foyer, setting the tone for the rest of the residence. The interior design seamlessly combines luxury and comfort, creating an inviting atmosphere throughout.
The real gem of the estate, however, lies outside, where an enormous geometric-shaped pool takes center stage. This impressive pool looks like the ideal spot for a night swim. Surrounded by the breathtaking Puerto Rican landscape, he’ll be able unwind while enjoying in his new outdoor living oasis.
The acquisition of this Puerto Rican paradise was facilitated by The Caribbean Realty Group, who confirmed the transaction at an astounding price of $15,750,000. The successful negotiation between Molina and Paul resulted in a reduced price from the initial listing of $19,995,000, further highlighting Paul’s ability to secure prime properties at favorable terms.
While the mansion offers an array of lavish amenities, including a fully equipped fitness center and a 6-car garage to showcase Paul’s impressive automobile collection, it is the pool area that truly steals the show. The geometric design adds a touch of sophistication, while the oversized tanning ledge allows for luxurious sun-soaked moments. Whether it’s lounging by the pool or taking a refreshing dip, this outdoor oasis offers the perfect setting for relaxation and entertainment.
The mansion itself stands as a testament to modern luxury. Built in 2021, the architectural design exemplifies contemporary aesthetics with its clean lines, expansive windows, and seamless integration of indoor and outdoor living spaces. Every aspect has been carefully crafted to create a harmonious blend of style, comfort, and functionality.
For Jake Paul, this new Puerto Rican retreat serves a dual purpose. Alongside his brother, Logan Paul, he relocated to Puerto Rico a few years ago, seeking an environment conducive to their intensive training regimen without the distractions often encountered elsewhere. The serene atmosphere and privacy afforded by this magnificent estate will undoubtedly contribute to Jake Paul’s preparation for his upcoming fight against former UFC star Nate Diaz in August.
While the reasons behind Molina’s decision to part ways with this architectural masterpiece remain unknown, Jake Paul’s acquisition of this prestigious property further solidifies his status as a prominent figure in both the sports and entertainment industries. The mansion stands as a symbol of his continued success and serves as a luxurious sanctuary where he can unwind, recharge, and focus on his career.
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