Cape Crusaders

Aq 506 34pg 0001

It was only a matter of four weeks that determined whether Jim Treese was bound to sell copy machines or travel down a path that would lead to the 2002 opening of Cape Cod Aquatics, a pool and spa company that has doubled its sales every year since.

After working for a fire and safety inspection company for 10 years and after a short stint with an Internet company, Treese had accepted a job selling copiers and fax machines for Toshiba. The company delayed the start of his job by four weeks, however, and in that time, Treese noticed an ad for a sales and design consulting position for Anthony & Sylvan Pools.

Toshiba's loss was the pool industry's gain.

Today Treese and his wife, Michele, own Cape Cod Aquatics, which specializes in San Juan fiberglass pools and is an authorized Jacuzzi Hot Tubs vendor. They own a retail store, sell hot tubs, and Treese designs and builds pools, in addition to doing repair work as needed.

Although seemingly a simple concept, stellar customer service is the primary force behind the company's success, Treese says.

"Everybody talks the talk, but not everyone walks the walk," Treese says. "[Because] we return phone calls, do what we say we're going to do and do it on time, business just exploded."

When Treese starts a project, he gets to know his clients and their needs to ensure that the product they end up with fits their lifestyle. Then he spends time educating his clients about how to care for their pool or spa.

"Always take care of your customer because without that, you're nowhere," Treese says. "It's simple things like keeping the client updated and informed throughout the entire process."

And according to his clients, this type of service is unique on the Cape. Betty Ritter, who lives in an historical district, bought a pool from Cape Cod Aquatics. She says she was impressed that Treese took the time to attend town meetings to ensure that the pool met city codes.

"Jim's very concerned about his customers. That's refreshing," Ritter says. "Today in our rushed world, with people taking on too much and not doing any of it well, Jim is very conscientious about detail."

Treese also emphasized the importance of taking on only what he can handle. Between spring and fall of last year, Cape Cod Aquatics built eight pools. "Don't screw anyone over. You just can't," Treese says. "I'd love to build 20 to 30 pools a year, and you know what? I can't. I'm not going to take someone's deposit and then leave them hanging."

Ultimately this leads to a business with constant referrals.

"If someone asks me who built the pool, I'm very happy to share all I can," Ritter says.

Jon Phillips bought a hot tub from Treese and says he was impressed by the amount of time Treese spent getting to know him and educating him about the product.

"Jim really knows his hot tubs inside and out, on a mechanical basis and a performance basis," Phillips says, adding that the company's success is the result of Treese's devotion to his products and customer satisfaction.

Treese emphasizes the importance of being available to clients at all times of the day . . . and night. He'll even send out a postcard before he goes on vacation to let his customers know how to reach him.

"That kind of service is important to me," Phillips says. "When I call up Jim or stop in and get supplies, he knows who I am on a first-name basis."

While customer service can make or break a company, Treese says anyone interested in starting a business in the industry has to offer products at a reasonable price, be .exible and be willing to learn.

"Be willing to keep up with what's going on in the industry," Treese says. "Be willing to change business plans. You have to be open to change."

Treese also suggests that potential business owners add 20 percent to whatever amount they think they'll need to keep the company a.oat.

The work that the Treeses have put into Cape Cod Aquatics has not only paid off in the business sense, but Treese says it allows him to live a better-quality life. Prior to moving to Cape Cod, the Treeses lived in Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C. After a host of tragedy — from the Sept. 11 attacks to the sniper attacks in the area — the Treeses decided it was time to leave.

Now Treese said he's more comfortable and his business allows him to focus time on his family. Treese actually defines his success based on the fact that he's his own boss and can bring his kids and dogs to the shop and arrange his time to fit the needs of his family.

Others, however, define success more traditionally. Cape Cod Aquatics recently received the San Juan Fiberglass Dealer of Excellence Award and a first place award from Jacuzzi for best showroom. The new showroom is 2,500 square feet – more than six times larger than the one the company started with.

The greatest challenge, Treese says, has been finding good help. He tries to minimize subcontractors, and has been looking for young, permanent employees to train. High housing costs, however, deter young people from locating to the area, Treese says.

In five years, Treese says he'd like to have employees to whom he can offer full benefits and a rewarding career.

"I'm looking forward to the day when people are like, 'I don't want to go anywhere else. I want to work here,'" Treese says.

He added that he hopes his kids — 10-year-old daughter, Brenna, and 3year-old son, Jasper — will one day work in the company.

And he's well on his way to achieving his ultimate goal.

"In five years I want to be No. 1 on the Cape, which I think we will be," Treese says. "And I would love the day I sign a pool contract, we sell five spas in a day and then we drive out to the beach for a barbecue and surfing. That'd be a perfect day."

Page 1 of 155
Next Page
Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library