Celebrating the 2023 Pleatco Pool Tech Search Winners

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Cristina ForcioneCristina ForcionePOOL TECH WINNER


Seychelles Pools & Spas | Lasalle, Quebec, Canada 

“It was very easy for me to fall in love with this line of work,” says Cristina Forcione, one of two grand finalists in this year’s Pleatco Pool Tech Search.

She remembers her first day on the job, an acid wash during peak summer, as if it was yesterday. Forcione was recovering from a concussion when she was asked to lend an extra hand at Seychelles Pools & Spas — her mother has mutual friends with owner Helmut Heckersbruch — as the company was short staffed and super busy.

“It was very stimulating, in the best way,” says Forcione. “I love manual labor, working with my hands. I was looking for something not too mentally tasking, having been recovering from a head injury at the time, but that was also good for me physically.”

She had always found working outside to be very good for her mental health. “It certainly beats being at a desk and trying to figure out some sort of computer issue,” says Forcione. “So after lending a hand that day, Helmut said he was looking for another maintenance tech, and I was brought on staff the very next week.”

In her first year, Forcione serviced anywhere between seven to 10 pools a day. “Now, a few years in, I work more on troubleshooting problems, whether with salt systems or logic boards or pumps,” she says, “but given our short season, it’s still primarily weekly service.”

Forcione recently traveled to Atlantic City to attend the 2024 Pool & Spa Show (the roundtrip was awarded by Pleatco), where she was recognized for this prestigious award. The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, who sponsors the competition alongside GENESIS and AQUA, also gifted Forcione free enrollment in PHTA’s Certified Service Technician Course (CST).

Having only been in the industry for a few years, the show, along with the class, was eye-opening, she says. “To see all of the innovation that goes behind improving service, whether that’s through pool equipment or the accessory equipment, was exciting. It’s awesome to see how much further I can go in the industry.”

“This award is an incredible honor,” says Forcione. “I’ve been recognized for all the hard work I’ve put into my career. I was honestly gobsmacked when I got the call. I’m very appreciative of my boss, who secretly nominated me. My life has come down this path and brought me here, alongside this great community, and I’m excited for what is to come.”



Pools Unlimited Incorporated | Ellicott City, Md. 

Wes Kane of Maryland-based Pools Unlimited Incorporated started in the pool and spa industry at just 14 years old, before he could even drive. With it being his family business — Kane’s grandparents started the company over 40 years ago — it was always his summer job.

“It was like, ‘You’re going to work today,’” says Kane, “whether I liked it or not. So, I was riding around with someone until I could drive my own truck, building and servicing inground swimming pools.”

Now, over 15 years later with a lot of experience under his belt, Kane goes where he’s needed.

“My role changes all the time,” he says. “I’m the guy who wears all the different hats, and I’m willing to do anything and everything within the company — whether it be behind the phones, cleaning pools, repairing equipment or new construction. The majority of my time, I would say, is spent in the field repairing and replacing equipment, and talking to customers a lot.”

Kane says, like anything, the job comes with its good days and bad days. “But our whole industry has a good vibe,” says Kane. “I was first told this when I got started, and I can say it’s true from what I’ve seen from many people, and it’s that once you start in the pool and spa industry, it’s very hard to get out of it. It’s very rewarding, the kind of work we do.”

Kane has worked hard to build a great company culture among his staff and to nurture lasting customer relationships. “I’m lucky to be surrounded by really good people, a good-working atmosphere and great customers,” he says. “The customers I come across keep me going. The company’s end goal is always the same thing — leave the customer happy and feeling good about having done business with us.”

And it’s his customers and staff, Kane says, he has to thank for this esteemed award, a grand finalist in Pleatco’s Pool Tech Search. “The award means a lot to me,” he says. “A lot of the votes came from our customer base, which says a lot not only about me but the service we’re providing. This award reassures me that we’re out there doing the right things. And it’s just very humbling to hear that people are satisfied.

“So thank you to Pleatco and Pentair, too. I feel very honored to have won, especially out of all the great candidates that were out there.” 

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