Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Franchisee Profile: Rob Solito and Wayne Gable of Columbia, SC


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Q: Where are you originally from?
Wayne: Prior to recently moving to Charleston, I lived in Virginia for 20 years, right outside Washington DC.

Rob: I grew up in Florida but have been in Columbia for 12 years.

Q: Before Franchising, what were you involved with?
Wayne: Before franchising with ASP, I was working as a consultant in the non-profit industry. I have worked with non-profits for 25 years, and I still hold many different board positions in the industry. After being in the corporate world for so long, I decided that I wanted to own my own business for the first time in my life and try out a completely new field.

Rob: I did a variety of things before coming to ASP. I worked in several different trades and owned my own tile company. I also owned a real estate company where I was renovating and flipping houses. Most recently, I was the southeast service manager for Mettler Toledo, the largest scale company in the world. As manager, I oversaw nine states and was responsible for growing revenue and managing technicians. That general business experience all came together for ASP.

Q: How did you learn about the brand?
Wayne: When we moved to Charleston, I decided to meet with a business broker to look into the different opportunities available. When the broker mentioned ASP Franchising, a memory immediately came to mind of constantly fixing and servicing my in-laws’ swimming pool, and the constant frustration associated with this memory. As pool owners, we spent more time keeping the pool clean than enjoying ourselves at the pool. Additionally, I experienced first-hand the dismal service companies in the industry and the terrible customer service they provided. ASP Franchising seemed like a great service for the community and a way to bring professionalism to a fragmented industry.

Charleston was one of the first markets ASP expanded to outside of Macon, Ga., five years ago and the brand has really grown here. I decided to purchase the territories from the previous owners, Sean and Travis, because I saw the potential to build the brand even more in the market and expand statewide. One of the original owners, Travis, decided to stay on the team as manager, and I have enjoyed being able to work side by side with him. Travis has been an excellent teacher and advisor to me as I learn the industry.


Q: Why was this brand the right fit for you?
Wayne: As a person who enjoys excitement, trying new things and working with people, I felt that ASP was a perfect fit for me. Being able to interact with different people and situations is very rewarding. Many other companies in the pool service industry are not responsive to customers and are not honest with clients about the service they really need. I feel that ASP offers superior service to our customers and allows each franchisee to build lasting relationships with the community. I also feel that the executive team has a clear vision for the future of this company and I am very excited to be a part of that.

Rob: After doing my due diligence and reading through the company’s history, I liked its philosophy of professional service in an industry where that is traditionally lacking. That approach to the pool industry stood out and really got my attention. ASP also had very little negative press, if any, and generally seemed to be putting itself ahead of the crowd and growing rapidly nationwide. I understand the business of customer service and reliability, so ASP was a good fit.


Q: What are your future goals? Development plans?
Rob: I know Wayne would like to open in Mobile, Alabama next year. We also have plans to open a retail store within the next two years. We’re a little different from most new ASP franchises because we have that level of support provided by Wayne. Even though we’re new in Columbia, we have the resources of a five-year-old franchise. And with the amount of business that’s already come across the table, we’re ready to grow immediately.

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