Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Franchisee Profile: Jimmie Meece and Ashley Moore of Clemson, SC

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Jimmie was among the first franchisees in the ASP system when he opened in 2005. Since then, he’s seen the company thrive not only in Clemson but throughout the Southeast. Jimmie was appointed the Vice President of Franchise Development by CEO Stewart Vernon in late 2010. Kept busy by his new role, Jimmie brought in long-time friend and Clemson native Ashley Moore to help him run day-to-day operations.

Q: What have been some milestones for your business?
Jimmie: We were recognized for a 13 percent sales increase from 2009, and a lot of that is due to customer service. It’s so important to be professional in anything you do, but particularly in an industry that has developed a poor reputation for customer service. The fact that we’ve been able to go through the hardest economic time that anyone in our generation has seen and not only survive but thrive with a 13 percent sales increase truthfully shows how well we’ve done with customer service, communicating with the customer and making sure that they’re happy with our services.

Q: What are some of your duties as Vice President of Franchise Development?
Jimmie: The position was really created because of the explosive growth of ASP. Over the last 5 years, we’ve seen some many new franchisees come on that it became obvious we needed to strengthen our internal support structure. My main task as VP of Franchise Development is providing technical support and business coaching for our franchisees. A lot of my responsibilities require me to be on the road quite a bit, so I’m typically out of the office three days a week or more. That’s why I brought Ashley on to handle the things for me in Clemson.

Q: How did you get involved with ASP?
Ashley: I’ve known Jimmie since I was 11 or 12. We have a friendship that extends beyond our business relationship. I was working in the banking industry but decided to leave when everything was being switched around due to the economy. I felt it was the perfect time to seek out a new opportunity and it was a good time for Jimmie as well since he had just taken on his new responsibilities. I’m excited to be involved because my natural market is here in Clemson and I’ve got great contacts with property managers and homeowners.

Q: What are some of your goals for 2011?
Ashley: We want to deepen our client relationships in the Clemson market. There’s a lot of competition in our industry but I want to make sure that when people think of anything pool related, they think of us. We’re coming off a very strong year in 2010 but I’d like to push for at least a 15 percent increase in sales by the end of 2011. We’ve already doubled sales in February, so we’re well on our way.

Jimmie: We definitely have room to growth. There are parts of Oconee and Anderson County that we haven’t even touched. With Ashley’s experience with finances in addition to his connections and work ethic, I think ASP Clemson is going to have another great year. I’m really excited to see it unfold.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Franchisee Profile: Peter Baldschun, franchisee of Cleveland, TN

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Franchisee since: March 2011
Location: Cleveland, TN

Peter always knew he wanted to own his own business, so when the opportunity to franchise with ASP arose he jumped at the chance. Already familiar with the brand from working with his brother and brother-in-law at ASP of Chattanooga, Peter opened for business in Cleveland, TN in March.

Q: Where are you from originally?
A: I grew up in Macon where my family was actually good friends with the Vernons. I also spent some time in Atlanta before relocating first to Chattanooga and then the Cleveland area.

Q: Before franchising, what did you do?
A: Before joining ASP I was working in the insurance industry for Northwestern Mutual. That was a great experience but I’ve always wanted to be a small business owner. The idea of being my own boss, setting my own scheduling and really being the master of my own ship has always been very important to me.

Q: How did you hear about ASP?
A: Being from Macon and knowing the Vernons, I was already familiar with the ASP name. I started to really learn more about it when my brother and brother-in-law opened a franchise in Chattanooga. I went to work for them and started to discover how much I liked the concept.

Q: Why was this brand the right fit for you?
A: ASP was a good choice for me for a number of reasons. I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and being outside and working with ASP let me do both. It also gave me the chance to own my own business, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. What really sealed the deal was the opportunity to go into business with my family. Being able to work with my brother and brother-in-law made it an easy decision for me.

Q: What have been some career milestones for you/your business?
A: Although my Cleveland location is just getting started, while I was working at my brother’s location in Chattanooga it became the highest grossing first-year franchise in ASP’s history. I feel like I have a strong support system in place with those guys. It’s great to be paired with a couple guys that are very successful.

I’m also very excited to be opening in Cleveland. After working in Chattanooga, it seemed like a natural progression to move into the Cleveland market. There’s a lot of exciting development going on here like a new Volkswagen plant and an Amazon factory, so it’s an area that’s really growing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

ASP Pool School 2011

As spring is approaching, pool season is in full swing at America’s Swimming Pool Company. We have just finished our first pool school of the season, where we educate our newest franchisees on the different aspects of operating a pool and running a pool service business. We have some amazing additions to the ASP family and are very excited about the newest franchise locations across the U.S. Here is a list of some of our newest franchisees who have just finished pool school and have opened their ASP locations:

1. Tina Brown: just opened her first ASP location in Greenville, S.C. and is the first female franchisee in the ASP system.

2. Peter Baldschun: At the young age of 26, Peter just opened a new ASP location in Cleveland, T.N. He originally worked with his brother, John, at his Chattanooga ASP location and after a tremendous amount of success, they team decided to expand to Cleveland, where Peter will be the operator.

3. Bob Love: just opened his first location in Corpus Christie, T.X. expanding ASP’s presence throughout the state of Texas. After working for 30 years as a business consultant, Bob decided it was time to venture out on his own and control his destiny with the ASP brand.

4. Wayne Gable: after becoming a first-time business owner with ASP only a few months ago in Charleston, S.C., Wayne has just opened his second franchise location in Columbia, S.C., spearheading the brands growth throughout the state.

5. Michael Derdziak: as a first-time business owner, Michael just opened ASP’s newest location in Atlanta. He will be strengthening the brand’s presence in its home state of G.A.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Franchisee Profile: Tina Brown, franchisee of Greenville, SC

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Franchisee since: March 2011
Location: Greenville, SC

Tina ran her own pool management service before being introduced to Jimmie Meece, owner of ASP of Clemson. The two began a successful business relationship, and when Jimmie called with an opportunity to join the system she took the chance to enter an industry she calls “highly lucrative.” Tina opened in Greenville, SC in March 2011.

Q: Where are you from originally?
A: I was born and raised in the Greenville area.

Q: Before franchising, what did you do?
A: Before joining ASP I was actually already in the pool industry. I few years ago I decided I didn’t like the way my community swimming pool was being maintained or managed. When the board said there was nothing they could do about it I volunteered to do it myself. I finished the Certified Pool Operator program and managed the pool for three years.

Q: How did you hear about ASP?
A: While I was managing the pool, I needed to get some repairs done and asked an associate to recommend an honest repair company that would be fair. He suggested I speak with Jimmie Meece, who turned out to be the owner of ASP of Clemson. That turned into Jimmie quoting a few repairs for our homeowners and he became my go to guy for pool service. I worked with Jimmie for three years before he called me out of the blue one day and asked if I wanted to buy the Greenville, SC territory for ASP. At that exact time I was ready to get into the business, so we took the opportunity.

Q: Why was this brand the right fit for you?
A: Being in the business, you run across some pretty undesirable people who do what you do. I’ve met so many commercial and residential pool owners who are fed up with the typical pool guy that when I saw how ASP operates I knew it would be successful. ASP is a quality business—it’s not some guy showing up at your pool with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and his shirt untucked. They’re honest and have built up a reputation for doing great work.

Q: What have been some career milestones for you/your business?
A: I believe ASP has one other female partner but I think I’m the first female owner/operator in the system. My location is also going to be unique because in addition to the repair and maintenance service we will be offering a lifeguard/management service. That means we’ll send a CPO to visit your pool 3 times a week—as required by South Carolina law—and can also provide certified and trained lifeguard during pool hours of operations.

Monday, March 14, 2011

ASP featured in Chattanooga Times Press

Chattanooga Times Free Press entitled, “Start-Ups Ease Strain.” The article was built from an in-depth interview and photo-shoot with John Baldschun and an interview with Stewart Vernon. The article discusses the brand’s tremendous success in Chattanooga and ability to overcome the economic obstacles in the current economic climate.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Franchisee Bio: Bob Love of Corpus Christi, TX

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Franchisee since: March 2011
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Bob spent thirty years in the financial industry until he grew tired of the corporate culture and decided to venture out on his own. With a lifelong love of working outside and meeting new people, ASP offered the perfect opportunity for him to become his own boss. Bob opened in Corpus Christi in March, 2011.

Q: Where are you from originally?
A: I grew up in Pensacola, Florida, and since then I’ve lived in Atlanta and Houston and have been in Corpus Christi for going on five years now.

Q: Before franchising, what did you do?
A: After serving in the Navy for four years, I went to college and then entered the world of corporate accounting. I’ve been a Controller, CFO or General Manager for 30 years as well as owned my own businesses on the side. I’ve worked for businesses ranging from family-owned ventures to multi-billion dollar conglomerates, but I always seemed to run into the same problem: I’d help put a deal together for the company as it was getting bought out and then discover the new owners wanted their own CFO in my position. I’ve heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. Realizing that, I decided I was done with bosses.

Q: How did you hear about ASP?
A: After leaving corporate accounting, I began looking at all kinds of different businesses, some of which were franchises. I narrowed down my options to the pool business because it fit my needs, wants and gifts. I’ve always wanted to work outside and I enjoy meeting people, both of which I could do in the pool industry. Originally, I wanted to buy and existing pool route (maintenance customers), but found it would be too expensive. I ran across ASP one day while researching pool companies and thought it would be a much better option than starting out solo.

Q: Why was this brand the right fit for you?
A: What really attracted me to ASP was the vision Stewart and Tom have. I wanted to get on that train and have all their experience to draw from. I also liked the tremendous support and expertise I saw from other franchisees. It felt like a family atmosphere and just clicked. The professional way that ASP goes about things is what I’ve been doing for 30 years, just in a different field, so I felt at home with their philosophy.

Q: How do you see ASP connecting with your local community?
A: Although I just opened, I have a lot of plans for groups I’d like to get more involved with. I’ve worked with the Driscoll Children Hospital in the past and hope to continue supporting them. Growing up and living on the Gulf coast is also very important to me, so I feel very strongly about taking care of the coastline. There are two organizations, the Coastal Conservation Association and the Saltwater Fisheries Enhancement Association, that I’d like to help out in the future.

Q: What are your expansion plans?
A: I absolutely want to grow. I’d like to get to the point where I have a manager for both maintenance and service so I can go out and grow the company, whether within my own territory or in new areas. I’m always thinking about new growth and getting some good people to run it for me so I can keep going out there and meeting and greeting.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

ASP Featured in Brunswick News

America’s Swimming Pool Company was recently featured in the Brunswick News in an article discussing how service businesses are faring in the current economy, entitled, “Service Businesses Hold Hope for Spending Return.” Cited as experts in the article, ASP of Glynn County franchisees, Rex Putnal and Bill Poe, along with ASP manager, Marcus Kuja, discussed the topic and explained some of the ways they were able to grow their business by 51% last year. Some of the reasons for their success included focusing a large amount of attention on customer service which led to repeat customers and referrals. They also answered customers’ calls as soon as they came in and offered flat-rate pricing. The team also discussed the fact that they expect their business to increase by 20 to 30% in the upcoming months as we approach summer time. Full article is below:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

ASP featured in Business News Daily

America’s Swimming Pool Company was recently featured on in a trend story about business opportunities that you can start with no employees. The article delves into ASP’s continued growth and achievement of never having a franchisee fail, which has helped the brand expand to 56 locations across the U.S. Stewart Vernon, CEO of ASP, discusses his plans to reinvest in the franchise system to support its existing franchisees for 2011. As an affordable business model that can be launched from your home with no employees, ASP is positioned to continue expansion despite the economic climate. Click here to view the full article.

Prefer Going Solo? 5 Franchises That Don’t Need Employees
By Stephanie Taylor Christensen, BusinessNewsDaily Contributor

Always wanted to own your own business, but held off because you were weary of the headaches that can accompany hiring, paying and managing staff? You might find the perfect fit in these five franchise business models, all well-suited for franchise owners who are seeking to go into business solo.

The country’s largest provider of swimming pool service and maintenance, America’s Swimming Pool Co. (ASP) has 58 franchise locations spanning seven states. Founded on a commitment to superior swimming pool service and solutions, ASP serves both residential and commercial properties.

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