Breaking the mold… I could have just as easily titled this blog post “Thinking Outside the Box”, but wouldn’t that be exactly what everyone would have expected for the subject matter that I intend to cover? Ideally, this will be the first of many short articles that I write urging people to honestly ask themselves what owning a swimming pool, renovating a swimming pool, or building a new swimming pool as an addition or with new construction means to them specifically. For starters though, I’d like to talk about how the members of the Master Pools Guild work to break the mold of “pool builder” that the public has traditionally held. I recently realized that this was still a necessity after my Grandma (insert obligatory, Southern phrase here…), bless her heart, asked me, “Boy, when are you ever gonna give up them swimming pools and go get you a job doing something else?” She’s asked me that at least a dozen times in the past ten years. Granted, she’s 93, and didn’t grow up with a swimming pool. Heck, she probably didn’t even know anyone with a swimming pool. Still, despite realizing that she may never fully understand what it is that I do and not being bothered (too much) by that fact (that’s just Grandma, bless her heart), I also recognize that her attitude towards the industry has been shared by more than a few of those outside of the industry that I’ve encountered over the years. I’ve heard “pool guys” mocked as half wits and fly-by-nights, undeservedly suspected as shady individuals, and if the conversation drifted to “pool salesman”, even compared to “used car sales”… *gasp! Unfortunately, these claims have sometimes been well founded for certain builders and certain markets. Fortunately, the tides are changing on that perception. Even more fortunate for you, as consumers, it’s easier than ever to figure out which company in your area is working the hardest to change that perception. All you have to do is find the Master Pools Guild member nearest you.
Over the past couple of my now 20 years in the swimming pool industry I’ve noticed an increase in the number of people who tell us that the reason they chose us, Gress Inc., to build their pool was two -fold: first, we listened to them. It still surprises me to hear that a competitor has come in to a customer’s home, spent time with them, and then showed them a proposal that didn’t have any of the features that they wanted. Although I am always excited by the fact that the customer recognizes that we care enough to listen, it’s the second half of their statement that I’m really proud of. It usually comes out something like this, “Your design gives us everything we wanted, but it also incorporates some really good ideas that we hadn’t thought about.” I began to wonder why none of our competitors were catching on. Our clients would always assure us that our competition (at least the ones who were still in the running) had nice designs that met their “needs”, but few had taken the architectural style of the home, the slope or other site constraints, or more importantly, the unspoken desires seriously enough to take a chance by offering the client anything other than a replica of a picture that they pointed to in a book.
The more I’ve thought about this difference and asked myself why our competition hasn’t stepped up, the more convinced I’ve become that the only possible answer is that they are scared. You see, I’ve run across these guys in almost every aspect of my career… Employers in my early years who would lose their cool anytime someone asked them “why” they did things a certain way when there was obviously some shortcoming in the method they used. Co-workers that I would routinely have to follow behind making plumbing repairs because, “I’ve been doin’ this for 30 years, and ain’t never used no pipe cleaner”. Employees (former employees, that is) who wanted to argue about an extra half hour being added to the job every time they were told that they needed to change a certain construction practice as new materials or techniques were being developed. They were stuck in their tradition and afraid of change.
About a year or so ago, in an effort to come up with the easiest way to distinguish our company from the likes of those above, I began referring to them as “Traditional Pool Builders”. Traditionally, swimming pools required a lot of maintenance. Traditionally, swimming pools were painted or plastered white and surrounded with concrete decking. Traditionally, swimming pools required toxic chemicals to keep the water sparkling clear and bacteria free. Traditionally, the cost of running the pumps alone could be enough to turn people away from the idea of owning a pool. None of these hold true today so why would you want a traditional pool builder to build your pool?
That’s the thing about the Master Pools Guild that makes it such a great organization. None of our fellow members could ever be deemed “Traditional Pool Builders”. Membership alone is proof that you are dealing with a company that cares enough to stay up to speed with current technology, construction practices, and yes, even design possibilities. Don’t get me wrong, we might build a few traditional designs here and there (I’ve always said, “I’ll build any design you want. I’m going to give you my honest opinion about it, but in the end, they all look good from my back yard”), but we’re still NOT going to do it as “traditional pool builders”. Our approach will always be that of Masters of our trade who are lifted up and elevated by like minded builders from all over the world. I’m proud to say that we are not “traditional pool builders”, but not nearly as proud as I am to say that we are a Master Pools Builder. I’m proud to be a part of an organization of fellow builders who are equally dedicated to breaking the mold.
This is Master Pools Guild!!!
More thankful than proud,
New Hill, NC