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The Pool Service Person Stigma


I will never forget attending an event in town one night. A young woman (thirty-something) approached and introduced herself. She asked my name and then asked what I did for a living. I said hello, told her who I was, and stated that I owned a swimming pool service company (which I did at the time). The young woman paused for a moment and twisted her nose up. I knew the look. Her words that followed stick with me to this day “Oh that’s so nice.” She whispered, “Not everyone should go to college, should they.”

Obviously, I must have been some nincompoop who had to resort to skimming leaves from swimming pools due to what could only be the result of a string of poor life choices. The stigma associated with the “Pool Guy/Pool Gal” has always reminded me a bit of that 80s Music Television anthem Money for Nothing by Dire Straits. Okay, so not all pool people are millionaires with private jets, but we do make a pretty good living and get to spend most of the day poolside.

I was talking with my friend and former student, Erik Taylor of Chlorine King Pool Service, who had mentioned some similar experiences and asked if he would not mind jotting down his thoughts on the subject. Erik is one of APSP’s (Association of Pool & Spa Professionals) 2018 Young Professionals of the Year and his company has been listed as one of the Top 50 Service Companies in the U.S. (P&S News & Jandy).

Here is what Erik had to say:

Erik Taylor, CEO Chlorine King Pool Service

Can you make a solid living for your family in the pool business? I get asked this all the time and the resounding answer is yes, YES you can! The epitome of the broke pool professional is really, well, the very few that run their business totally wrong. They are a few and far between though. The reality is if you decide to get into the pool business, you’ll quickly find that you’re swimming in a pool of money, but please hold the chlorine and acid!

When you think of a pool guy or gal, what do you think of? I was guilty too of labeling the pool professional as a “broke and desperate” soul that is trying to earn bar money. I’ve talked about that countless amounts of times when telling people how I got into the pool industry. I remember when my friend introduced me to the pool industry and my first thought was a guy stumbling out of his rusted out truck, with bottles of whatever falling out, wearing stained and smelly clothes while having a cigarette hanging out of their mouth. Yes, some of those are still out there and more than likely the people who run their business wrong as I eluded to earlier. That, my friends, is a story for another time.

Grossing six figures in this career is not really hard to do ?

What I want to talk, or brag about, is how much you can make in this industry, but please hold the degree and student loan debt. I also tell people all the time how I wish I never went to college and got a five-year head start of where I am now (I double majored and did not flunk a year ha-ha). As that saying goes, “Time is money” which is a valuable statement not only for getting started in our industry but also for your day-to-day operations while in the industry. I remember when I first started my goal was to gross $75K per year and I would be happy. At that number I would be doubling my old salary (of 5 years) as a 9-5 worker. In my first six months of business I nearly hit that goal starting from ground zero. Grossing six figures in this career is not really hard to do, in fact I screamed past that goal in my first calendar year of business. Every year since I have seen consistent and quality growth to the point of having to turn tons of business away because I simply can’t handle it all.

Erik Taylor is creator of the Chlorine King Pool Service Show Podcast and an AQUA magazine columnist.

I quickly got over the “wow” factor of the money one can pull in from the pool business. The thing that cracks me up about all of this, almost on a day-to-day basis, is interacting with the public that has absolutely no clue about the goldmine that working in the pool industry truly is. I always giggle inside when you tell someone you own a pool business and they give you the reaction like the pool business is not a real job, or you aren’t on the same level they are. I also get a hysterical kick out of when people talk numbers with you and you deliver that “deer in the headlights” blow when you tell them what your business pulls in. What “jobs” out there can make anywhere from $100-$600 per hour like the pool industry can? Lawyers, doctors, surgeons, electricians and pool professionals all fall in that range. Imagine that, a pool professional being lumped in with those prestigious careers. Better yet, a pool professional that does not have to do years of schooling to earn a killer salary like the others mentioned.

A Pool Operator Certification class is a great first step if you are interested in starting your own swimming pool service company

At the end of the day as long as you’re covering your bills, making payroll, contributing to retirement and enjoying the fruits of your labor then I would consider your pool business a success. However, I think if you run your business correctly, you’ll achieve all of that while making the industry better and paying it forward to the next person, which in that case I consider you to be a legendary success! ?

Sadly, women in the pool industry face greater stigma than menRead More


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Pam

    Great post – one of my best friends owns a pool company and I wouldn’t consider him “uneducated.”

    1. Rudy Stankowitz

      far too often people are quick to judge a book by its cover, sadly some are also a poor judge of covers ?

  2. Donald Nolette

    I started with a pool company in high school. I fell in love with it! I never went to college. I’ve been in the business for over 30 years. I’ve owned my own business and experienced success. I left the pool industry for 5 years and came right back to it. I’ve always been able to put my head on my pillow at night knowing I operated with honest and integrity. I’ve been with my current company for nearly five years and look at each day as a new adventure. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve met so many interesting people- most of them I actually enjoyed meeting.

    I’ve experienced the snooty folks who feel sorry for me being a pool guy- I would just smile as I hand them their invoice. ?

    I hope more younger folks get into the business and learn like us seasoned guys. It’s a great industry. And yes, YES you can make a good living in the pool business!

    1. Rudy Stankowitz

      Hey Donald! Thank you for reading. Similar story… It will be 29 years for me this April (2019). Started my pool career immediately following my ETS from the military and it has always been very good to me. Happy to see so many young professionals pursuing this field, a person can honestly go as far as they want to go in this industry!

  3. Nate Watkins

    I have a bachelors degree in Microbiology and graduated with multiple scholastic honors… was going to be a dentist- but I wised uo and started my own pool service company. Anyone that laughs at pool service companies… the jokes on them.

    1. Rudy Stankowitz

      agreed! anyone who thinks that the pool pro is an uneducated underachiever, should sit in my class (or one of anyone’s educational sessions in the industry) and see if they can keep up. ?

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