Building A Better Business

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"My first priority is any of the seminars that deal with new technology or techniques," says Joe Vassallo, president of Paragon Pools, Las Vegas. "For example, when infinity edges or negative edges first started to gain popularity, I was able to go to some of the seminars regarding that and find out how it was done when it was still cutting-edge. The other sessions I've found to be extremely useful are the ones on safety and the legal aspects of protecting your business. I've always learned the best ways to handle safety issues, and found new types of safety equipment and devices at AQUA. No matter what seminar I take, I always pick up something new and reinforce what I've learned in the past. The education is just tremendous, and there's always something new to be learned. In the course of doing business throughout the year, those bits of information become invaluable."


"I think that if you don't attend the AQUA trade show, you're putting yourself at a tremendous disadvantage, because that's where all of the manufacturers introduce their new products and ideas. That's where you'll see all of the new pumps, filters and equipment, and any advancements they've made to existing equipment. It's an opportunity to indoctrinate yourself about a wide variety of things. There are products I see that I may not use day in and day out, but somewhere along the line I'll come across a project and say, 'Oh, I remember seeing something at AQUA that would work here, and I'm able to go back and dig up the information and find the particular item that is just exactly what I need for that situation. Even in talking with your clients, if they should bring something up, it shows that you are knowledgeable if you are aware of a wide variety of equipment and techniques. You can speak with the voice of authority if you've been introduced to the various options and had a chance to see and touch them."


"There are so many opportunities available at AQUA. Just one of the things we've been able to do at the show is form a relationship with GE Retail Sales Finance. I guess you wouldn't exactly call us a small company, we do around 150 pools a year, but being involved with someone like GE has given us the same level of financing capability as a lot of the major companies."


"Every one of my employees has a ticket to the AQUA Conference. There are some things I insist they go to, but they usually go through the conference brochure and pick out the things they'd like to attend. I'm more than happy to pay for it, because I'm a huge believer in education. There's no question that they become more knowledgeable, and it's great for morale. It makes them feel that they're important and that I look to them for feedback and encourage them to learn more and take more responsibility. People are sponges for responsibility; they really enjoy it and appreciate it."


"It's also very helpful to have employees' feedback at the trade show. They'll come up to me and talk about something directly related to their individual area of expertise, and say, 'Hey, I saw this over there,' or 'Can we get this book or that form.' or 'Here's a technique we can incorporate,' or 'I'd like to give this out after we finish a pool.' If you find even one thing to improve each department, it makes you better in every aspect, and that's a big thing. They also make business contacts at the show. If a problem does arise with a particular piece of equipment, or they need help in some way, they have a face and a name to call. Those personal contacts are incredible."

Store Stats

Joe Vassallo spent 10 years with Tango Pools, one of the largest pool builders in the state of Nevada, working his way up from designer to director of sales and marketing. Later, he became general manager of Paddock Pools in Las Vegas. With 12 years of experience in the industry, and more than half a dozen AQUA Shows under his belt, Vassallo felt he had the background to be successful in his own business. Launched in 2001, Paragon Pools employs nine full-time and nine seasonal employees, and specializes in the design and construction of high-end residential and commercial pools and spas. Paragon has just been named to the AQUA 100 for the second year in a row, a valuable distinction for such a young company. "It's really a big thing for us, and something we display proudly," says Vassallo. "It says a lot for our little company to be recognized by an industry leader like AQUA that is looking at businesses across the whole country with a discriminating eye."

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