Outgrowing the 'Pool Guy'

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Photo courtesy Stanick / Shutterstock.com

This story first appeared on watershapes.com.

Somebody has to say this — it’s long past time to stop using the term “pool guy.”

I understand there’s a certain old-timey, folksy appeal, but in an industry that has has dramatically evolved in recent decades, clearly the time has come to move beyond that hokey and shopworn label.

So, what’s my problem? When I hear people describe themselves as “pool guys,” and you know who you are, it evokes memories of a defunct industry culture, and a time when we were collectively very different than we are now.

Fact is, much has changed over the past 30 years. We are no longer an industry focused on template pools and limited possibilities. Instead, the maturation of the industry, the technology now used, and the level of complexity within these bodies of water beckons a more professional designation.

If we hope to attract talented young people who aspire to call this a career, it makes sense that the title of the job reflects how the job itself has changed.

It’s more than just labeling; we need to stop and re-evaluate our own understanding of what we do. What contributions are we as an industry providing to the world? How are we contributing as a composite to quality of life, health, exercise, smiles, happiness, confidence and on and on?

What does it really take to design and build great pools? I think we all realize the answer to that is “quite a bit,” and the moniker “pool guy” doesn’t get any of that across. As a term, it was out-of-date a long time ago.

MY MAPS AND LEGENDS

I’ve spent half of my adult life in this amazing industry, worked in many capacities, moved through many chapters and worn many hats. It’s one of those vocations where you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave — at least it’s been that way for me. There is just something about this H2O business that draws me back time and time again.

Maybe it’s because I was born under a water sign. Or far more likely, it’s the smiles I see on faces when they experience the pool environments we as an industry design and build, and of course, all of the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. As a result of my association in the industry, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to own pools of my own, and watch my children learn to swim at an early age and become empowered by their ability to move in the water. As a result, I believe they are more confident people.

Although I have spent most of my time in design, sales and construction, years ago, I built several service routes and sold them. Along that journey, I went down the road of Tech 1 & Tech 2 as well as the NSPI/APSP CSP-CBP certification/designations.

I also went through the CBP, CPO, CPO Instructor and AFO programs and certifications, mostly because I wanted to understand and have an inside look at what the service side of our industry does, with real world experience in doing so.

UNIFIED PURPOSE

That time helped me develop a deep respect for those that work out in the heat/cold, inclement weather and get the job done. I tip my hat to those professionals who keep the pools running and looking beautiful. Your contributions are just as important as any others in this industry.

When you break this industry apart, we find multiple layers of disciplines, and each one is an important spoke in the wheel. Design/sales, construction, service and repair, manufacturing, distribution, operators — we are all interdependent on each other. The roles are diverse, but they are ultimately part of the same effort with the same ultimate objectives.

BALANCING THE SPOKES

This is one of the reasons I believe you need to include everyone within your organization, when possible, to sit at the table for discussions and problem solving at least on a quarterly schedule.

This allows each department to understand the roles and responsibilities within the organization. You just never know what solutions may come out of the contributions of cross department problem solving. Give your people this opportunity and watch what happens to morale and teamwork.

Throughout the years, I’ve heard over and over about the disconnect between sales and construction at other companies. Yes, you’re going to have issues, but there is no reason why there must be a disconnect. I am telling you, we solved much of it by being a team with each division clearly understanding the importance of the other.

THE ESSENCE OF THE QUESTION

When we step back and look at the big picture, I believe we can find a clearer perspective on the question of industry identity and culture. I believe we are in the “Health and Wellness Industry,” or perhaps the “Lifestyle and Outdoor Entertainment Industry,” and maybe even the “Fun in the Sun Industry.” And we are certainly in the “Watershaping Industry.”

Ultimately, our purpose is directly tied to the value of water itself. Water is life — without it, we don’t survive. All living things depend on it. And we humans are attracted to water like few others as a result. The sound of running water stirs our souls, the connection to it mesmerizes and calms us. There is just something magical about clear, clean water to jump into, swim in and immerse yourself within. Even the sound of water has its positive effects.

Consider the responsibility we take on daily: to provide clean, fresh sanitized water for millions to play in and swim in. To design and construct projects that are safe. To create H2O habitats that inspire fun, joy and laughter. To build incredible watershapes that our end users look at from their homes or enjoy on weekends with family and friends. The commercial projects and waterparks countless people enjoy. The memories of water we all have from when we were kids. What a responsibility, what a privilege!

This is why I say we consider a new label for ourselves because we are truly ambassadors in a very special industry — all of which leads to this simple question: How do you describe what you do?

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