Monday, August 29, 2011

America's Swimming Pool Company featured in Aqua Magazine

Stewart Vernon, chief executive officer of America’s Swimming Pool Company was featured in Aqua Magazine discussing the conversion opportunities that the company provides to entrepreneurs with existing pool businesses in an article titled, “Spotlight: Stewart Vernon, CEO, America’s Swimming Pool Company, Macon, Ga.” Stewart discusses the conversion that recently occurred in the Dallas market, where the existing business owner, Herschel Forerster, was looking for a way to continue growing his business after over 20 years in the industry. What franchising systems provide to an existing operator is an opportunity to help with marketing, to have a nationally recognized brand and to cut expenses with national buying power. Click here to view the entire article.

By: Aqua Editors
A long with opening new pool service companies, ASP also does franchise conversions. What motivates a service company owner to become a franchisee?
Well, our most recent conversion was in Dallas, Texas. This was a guy that met our typical criteria — he owned a successful pool business with well over half a million dollars in sales. He started exploring our conversion program, and it took a good two months for him to really see the value of it.
In the short term, he was looking to take his business to the next level. Long term, he was looking to improve his brand, and ultimately for a future generation, possibly an exit strategy.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Worth Their Salt? Pools Where Chlorine Isn't King

By: Shalini Ramachandran

By this stage of summer, days spent at the swimming pool have left many children with frizzled hair, red eyes and itchy skin.
A growing number of pool owners, both private and public, blame the chlorine in the pool—and are trying so-called saltwater pools and other new technologies that promise disinfection with fewer annoyances and maintenance hassles than standard chlorine additives. First introduced to U.S. swimming pools in the 1920s, chlorine is credited with helping arrest the spread of disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
[SALINE]Kurill Brindle and her daughters, 10-year-old Britton and 6-year-old Devlin, love the saltwater pool the Fort Bragg, N.C., military base they live on installed this spring. "The water feels soft on your skin," and her daughters don't have to wear goggles underwater anymore, Ms. Brindle says.

They remember the chlorinated indoor pool they used to swim in when they lived at Fort Bliss in Texas. "The girls' swimsuits would get kind of worn and you'd smell like chlorine on your hair and skin," says Ms. Brindle.
So-called saltwater pools are the most popular alternative to conventional chlorine systems, making up about 13% of the roughly 10 million residential and commercial pools in the U.S. in 2010, according to Duluth, Ga., pool-market-research firm P.K. Data Inc.
The term saltwater is a little confusing. The pools don't actually contain seawater and are only 8% to 9% as salty. Rather, salt reacts with electricity at the source of the water flow to generate high concentrations of pure chlorine that are then dispersed through the pool. This doesn't allow the formation of itch- and stink-producing byproducts that conventional chlorine pools produce.
Other unconventional alternatives to chlorine include systems that release ozone gas or shoot beams of ultraviolet light through water to kill bacteria, viruses and algae. Others use streams of charged metal atoms to kill nasties. These systems still require occasional dosing with chlorine or other chemical disinfectants, but as little as 10% of what conventional pools call for, say manufacturers and distributors.
Lynn Trahan, a homeowner in The Woodlands, Texas, says he was turned off by how saltwater pools still use chlorine and picked UV-light technology when he revamped his home pool three years ago. Now, he uses only 0.2 part chlorine per million parts water—down from 1.5 ppm previously—as an added disinfectant in the water. "It's crystal clear," he says.

Jason Arthurs for the Wall Street Journal
Devlin Brindle, left, and her sister Britton, right, enjoy the water.
The cost of alternative disinfection systems can be high, from $900 for a saltwater chlorine generator for a home pool to as much as $8,000 for a residential ozone generator. The systems can save money over the long term, however. Traditional liquid and tablet chlorine costs up to $700 a year for a residential pool owner. Periodic so-called shock treatments to raise the chlorine level can be $150 and higher for a home pool, depending on pool size and use.
Despite these up-front costs, sales of alternative systems have shot up over the past few years. Andrew Rupnow, president of the Ozone Co. in Madison, Wis., says ozone-system sales rose 56% last year. Daniel Lee, chief executive of Georgetown, Texas-based SpectraLight Technologies Inc., which manufactures UV-light generators, says sales have more than tripled over the past two years. Neither would specify sales figures.
No federal laws regulate pool disinfection, but most states mandate chlorine levels for commercial pools at or above the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommended one to three parts per million of water.
Traditional chlorine continues to hold 80% to 85% of the swimming-pool market share, according to P.K. Data.
"We would be seeing a lot more outbreaks of E.Coli and Norovirus if we didn't chlorinate," says Michael Beach, the CDC's associate director for healthy water. The CDC says it isn't aware of any outbreaks caused by depending solely on alternative methods, the byproducts of which haven't been closely studied yet.
Some recent studies indicate the effects of conventional disinfection methods may go beyond just irritation.
A study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in November found that a chlorinated pool in Barcelona generated a chemical byproduct suspected of increasing risk of asthma in elite swimmers and others capable of mutating DNA, says Susan Richardson, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chemist who helped lead the study.
That said, while research has found increased asthma diagnoses among elite swimmers, researchers have found no consistent link between pool use and childhood asthma. A 20 country study over 10 years by the World Health Organization published in 2006 concluded that any risk from exposure to chlorination byproducts was small, and had be weighed against the risks of untreated water and the health benefits of swimming.
"The chlorine itself does not pose any known health risks," so long as chlorine and pH levels are kept within recommended ranges, says Brian McKenna, a spokesman for the Chlorine Chemistry Division, a trade association in the American Chemistry Council.
A new health code being developed by the CDC in conjunction with the aquatic industry, to be released in parts over the next year, could herald changes to chlorine standards by legitimating the use of ozone and ultraviolet light as secondary disinfectants.
Tom Lachocki, CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation, a nonprofit that funds pool research, says about 80% of new, large water parks and aquatic facilities feature UV-light generators. These are used to improve air quality in indoor swimming pools and protect swimmers against cryptosporidium, a chlorine-resistant parasite that can cause gastrointestinal ailments.
Steve Sherman, owner of Lafayette, Calif.'s Sherman Swim School, was an early adopter, installing an ionizer alongside his chlorine system 12 years ago, allowing him to reduce the use of chemicals. "We don't have as much of that dry skin, burning eyes and dry hair you find at other pools," he says. "This is way softer on the body and helps minimize the effects of chlorine on the students."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Franchisee Profile: Dan Meehan of Norcross, Duluth & Suwanee, GA

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Name:  Dan Meehan

Location: Norcross, Duluth, Suwanee

Q: Where are you from?
A: Originally I was from New Jersey but I moved to Georgia about 30 years ago and have lived in the Norcross-Duluth area.

Q: What was your career before franchising?
A: My background is in technology sales and technology recruiting where I worked for companies like IBM and Honeywell from 1971 to 2008 before I decided to change careers and open my first small business. The technology industry is growing rapidly and there had been so much evolution in the industry but when the economy started to crash, many of the sales jobs were cut. When I started to notice the direction of the industry, I decided it would be a good opportunity to step out and start my own business because it had always been something ii was interested in doing.

Q: How did you learn about the brand? What was your process?
A: I immediately knew I was interested in opening a franchised business concept because of the training, support, structure and outlined business model that they provided. However, initially I had no idea what type of company I was interested in, the only thing I did know was that I wanted to be in the service industry. After conducting some internet research, I looked out my window at my pool and started thinking about the lack of professionalism and unreliability of the pool service industry which is when I started looking into pool franchises. I found three companies, one was in Australia, one was in California and was just being launched and one was in Macon, Georgia. The obvious choice was to meet with the Macon franchise company, America’s Swimming Pool Company, and I called Stewart and Tom and within a few days, I drove down to meet with them in person. What I liked about them was they were sharp and very honest and were more than willing to answer every question I asked, which made me feel confident when making my decision.

Q: What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today with your business?
A: One of the hardest things that I found when launching the business was at the time we didn’t hardly have any brand recognition and the majority of the companies operating were small mom and pop companies and that was even in the industry as a whole. We spend a large amount of time doing door to door marketing and making phone calls to get business in the first year but having a sales background, I feel that really helped contribute to my success.

Over the past three years I feel that we have been able to establish ourselves on a national scale and now when we are mentioned in the industry, people know what America’s Swimming Pool Company is that that is exciting. In addition, with the help from Stewart and Tom and the strong support of the franchise system, I have been able to triple the amount of business.

Q: What makes your business different?
A: The clear level of professionalism that America’s Swimming Pool Company provides to our customers. We focus on the whole experience from the professional dress with logoed shirts and hats along with the strong customer service element and it amazes me to this day how often our customers are surprised when we arrive to appointments on time. We make sure to always clearly explain to our customers in clear English what is going on with their pools or what needs to be done and of course we always call if we happen to be running late for an appointment. In this industry, customer service standards aren’t very high so we try to go above and beyond for every customer.

Q: What areas do you service?
A: I service Norcross, Duluth, Dunwoody and Suwanee.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Franchisee Profile: H.J. Chandler of Albany, GA

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Some companies are too big. Some are too small. But for H.J. Chandler, America’s Swimming Pool Co. is just right. When he and his wife decided to move nearly 200 miles south of Atlanta to Albany, Ga., Chandler began thinking about what his next business step would be. With a strong background in sales, spending much of his career in the financial services industry until the markets collapsed in 2007, Chandler knew he wanted a company that had a product he believed in. After hearing about ASP from a family friend familiar with the brand, he realized the opportunity was perfect for his family. “To me, the situation was kind of like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, just trying to figure out what the right fit was,” Chandler said. “After weighing all my options, looking at the risks and the rewards for each opportunity, I decided that the risk I’m taking with ASP isn’t as great as it would be with other companies, and the return is greater.”

Q: Where are you from originally?
A: I was born in Atlanta, but grew up just outside of Rome, Ga.

Q: Before franchising, what did you do?
A: For the past 15 years or so, after graduating from the University of Georgia, I’ve been in a variety of sales capacities. I’ve primarily worked in the financial services industry, opening up my own finance company that I wound up shutting down in 2007. When the market crashed, I had nothing to sell anymore. I have also spent time independently selling repossessed vehicles, selling equipment down in Central and South America, and selling commercial HVAC products. I also owned a small contracting business that did commercial clean outs of buildings, but most of that fell off in 2007 as well. Before becoming involved with ASP, I owned a Jani-King franchise for some time.

Q: How did you hear about ASP?
A:  A close friend of my wife grew up with the founder, Stewart Vernon. I began conducting my due diligence back in November 2010 and looked into a couple of different opportunities, some franchise and some not. My wife and I wanted to move from Atlanta down to Albany, which was a big change for us, and this brand seemed like the right fit for us and for this area.

Q: Why was this brand the right fit for you?
A: First of all, the guys that run the operation — Tom and Stewart — are pretty sharp guys. To me the situation was kind of like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, just trying to figure out what the right fit was. After weighing all my options, looking at the risks and the rewards for each opportunity, I decided that the risk I’m taking with ASP isn’t as great as it would be with other companies, and the return is greater.

I feel like the brand as a whole is committed to excellence and being involved with it is a way to be part of a brand that is growing throughout the country. Every individual unit adds value to each other, and this is something that will be able to be built up over time.

Q: Why is Albany a good market for ASP?
A: There are a lot of pools in this area, which is a big thing. I don’t know exactly how the market was serviced prior to my arrival, but I did see an opportunity to bring a better product to the area. With the training from ASP corporate, I’m also able to bring the best service available.

Friday, August 5, 2011

America's Swimming Pool Company Social Media Contest, "America's Best Pool Party" Extended

Great news! America's Swimming Pool Company has decided to extend their "America's Best Pool Party" contest. We have been receiving great submissions so far and really want to get more! The new dates are as follows: Submissions end September 5th, 2011, Finalists will be selected Sept. 6-10 and Fan Voting begins Sept. 12.

With this extension, there are great picture opportunities available. One such opportunity is the 2011-2012 school year about to begin. We know there will be a lot of back to school/end of the summer pool parties to ease the kids back into the school year which gives you great entry opportunities.  Also, this extension falls over Labor Day weekend. This 3-day weekend is a great one to capture some photos on! Remember, these pictures can be of anything, just as long as they show you and/or your friends having fun at the pool during this HOT summer season!
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