2024 AQUA 100 Winner: Hansen's Pool & Spa

All photos courtesy Maggie Wood

"Hansen's Pool & Spa started in 1982 with my father and mother, Dave and Paula Sturino; they got their start in the pool industry working sales for a local business owner,” says Maggie Wood, who began to transition into ownership of Hansen’s alongside her sister, Katherine, in late 2023. “When the opportunity to open his own store in Northern Illinois became available, he bravely opened ‘Hansen’s Pool & Ski’ — yes, we used to sell skis — in his early 20’s.”

From there, Hansen’s has taken many forms over the years, evolving as times change. “When my dad saw things were starting to shift within the ski industry, he quickly pivoted and brought in hot tubs to supplement the business in the winter,” explains Wood. “We also, for a long time, did billiards and darts.”

The family moved to Kenosha, Wis., (back to Sturino’s hometown) in the 90’s and have been there ever since. After many years in one retail location with three separate warehouses, the company built its current location, opening its doors in 2016. Wood, who has now been in the industry for over 20 years, continues to improve daily operations and keep up with changing market conditions in her new role as a second-generation owner.


For example, while Hansen’s Pool & Spa has retailed swimming pools for many years, the company hasn’t operated with an in-house installation division since the late 80’s. “I brought back installation with just a few pools in 2022, and went full force in 2023, after many hours of training with the team — both in our area and by sending them down south during the colder months,” says Wood.

She saw a need for a one-stop-shop, as most retailers in the Kenosha area do not offer in-house installation. “It has no doubt been a learning process, but has been very rewarding,” says Wood. She also chose to close the store on Sundays, so both her and her employees could maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Hansen’s Pool & Spa also prides itself on great communication, as evident with the tools and software they use on a daily basis. The company brought in texting in late 2019, utilizing Podium’s texting platform for communication, review requests and payment. “It’s a great way to communicate with customers, because one team member can pick up where someone else left off, ensuring the conversation with the customer doesn’t skip a beat,” says Wood.

When it comes to internal communication, Hansen’s utilizes Google often, whether it be email, chat or Drive documents (working documents for needs requests: product, customer information, etc.), or training questions. “All team members have access to those documents, and they are checked often by management to ensure our team is getting what they need to best support our customers,” explains Wood. They also use Sling for scheduling, time management, and as a digital bulletin board, posting both company-wide announcements and shouting out team members for exceptional service or for being mentioned in a strong customer review.

One thing Wood has found to be extremely beneficial is outsourcing help for something she — or her sister Katherine — might not be the best at. “I think one of the best things leaders of companies can do is know where their deficits are,” she says. “The only way for us to continue doing what we’re good at while transitioning into ownership is to let others that are experts in their fields (accounting, HR, marketing) help us grow the business, so I bring in and work with people who can fill those gaps.”

Hansen’s has big things planned for the years ahead — they recently remodeled their entire retail store — but the company’s main goal is to review and concentrate on the basics. “Sometimes, after many years of doing the same thing, you can kind of get blinders on and forget about what really matters, and what can make the difference,” says Wood. “I want my employees to feel capable of making decisions and giving great customer service by being educated and supported in their role.”

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