This question was just asked of me this morning while visiting a potential client at their home in Green Bay while discussing their potential project. The answer is simple and complicated at the same time. I will elaborate as best I can in this article.
To help better understand how we finally "Caught the Wave," we need to take a trip back to the early years and explain our journey through the world of fiberglass pools.
THE EARLY DAYS
In the early 2000's I began research into fiberglass pools after reading an article about Blue Hawaiian Fiberglass Pools in Aqua Magazine. After countless hours of research, phone calls with manufacturers we decided to jump on board with the team at Blue Hawaiian. Blue Hawaiian was a smaller manufacturer that valued each of its dealers and treated them like family. We took the trip to Florida for the BH Training seminar and made some great friends and met a lot of great people. We were a Blue Hawaiian dealer for several years until BH was sold to Viking Fiberglass Pools/Latham Pools. It was at that point that the company culture, manufacturing process, and warranty process changed. After these changes took place we decided that we could no longer be partnered with Latham Pools.
TRILOGY FIBERGLASS POOLS
Jump to 2010. We researched all offseason to find a new fiberglass pool manufacturer to partner with that had the same mission as we did. That turned out to be Trilogy Fiberglass Pools out of Tenessee. The first season we had good luck with the pools and the newer installation process they recommended. The following season Trilogy was also purchased by Latham Pools. Again the company was restructured and processes were changed and we did not want to be part of the Latham Pool family. So again we find ourselves in the predicament of needing to look for another fiberglass pool manufacturer to work with.
LEISURE FIBERGLASS POOLS
We then took a look at Leisure Fiberglass Pools. Leisure is a company that came to the US from the Australian market. They had a great marketing campaign and a solid product. We visited the Leisure Plant in Texas and loved it. Things were great the first few seasons and then they decided to grow the company. I mean a lot. With the major expansion came major growing pains. Most of all, shell delivery. We were having difficulty in getting pools shipped on time and communication and accountability were a huge hurdle. There was no communication as to how Leisure was working to resolve or address the issues while they were growing. Pool Pros and its clients were left holding the bag on this one. Since our concerns were not being addressed we decided to meet with a few other manufacturers that were courting us.
SAN JUAN FIBERGLASS POOLS
We met with a handful of the remaining companies and San Juan stood out at the time. San Juan invented the fiberglass pool after all, and they had the most sizes, shapes, and styles available. We built a handful of pools and the quality was always solid but again we ran into problems getting pools delivered. Lack of clear communication from the Sales Reps to the ownership was a problem as well. The straw that broke the camels back was a pool that was delivered several weeks late.
All the while we were researching fiberglass pool manufacturers we always seemed to see River Pools popping up. Not as a manufacturer at the time but as a builder of fiberglass pools. They appeared to be going through much of the same issues we faced and had worked with a few of the same manufacturers that we did. I was always a fan of what they were doing with their pool builds but most notably their marketing. Their videos were very good, unbiased, and educational for any pool buyer.
RIVERPOOLS POWERED BY THURSDAY POOLS
Then while we were working with San Juan we watched from afar as River Pools teamed up with Thursday Pools to start manufacturing their own pools. Then shortly after, they branched off and manufactured their own pools. This got me fired up and I reached out to see if they had the capacity to sell pools to the Midwest and at the time they did not have that ability. So I put it on the back burner until I received a call from Jason Hughes himself.
THE TURNING POINT
Apparently, a blog article I wrote that ranked and listed my opinions about all the major fiberglass pool manufacturers got Jason Hughes's at River Pools attention, along with a few other manufacturers that were not happy about what I wrote. Which was to be expected. Nothing I wrote was more than my opinion of the major fiberglass players after dealing with them over the years. Did I ever think the blog would garner any attention from anyone? Absolutely not. Boy was I wrong! The article garnered so much attention that several manufacturers had threatened to sue me to have it removed. To be honest, my grade for River pools was not that great at the time either. I gave River Pools a C grade because I misunderstood a video on their production process and the resins they used. So when Jason Hughes called, I was confused at first, I was expecting it to be an unpleasant, short call about my blog article. It was actually the complete opposite. After a long positive talk with Jason, he walked me through their process of manufacturing and was very gracious with his time. The conversation was a changing point in my career. The fact that he took an hour and a half out of his day to spend talking to a small fiberglass pool builder in Green Bay, was pretty amazing. The best part is at no time did he try to sign me up as a dealer. It was a genuine conversation between two pool builders. One that I hadn't had with another fiberglass pool manufacturer since the early days of dealing with Blue Hawaiian. #Vanguarding
THE STRAW THAT BROKE
Some time had passed and I couldn't get that conversation out of my head. Then in the spring of 2019, we had a pool from our previous manufacturer that was delivered WEEKS late. That was the straw that broke the camels back. Frustrated beyond belief, I reached out to see if River Pools was yet at the point where they could get pools to the Midwest, and they said yes. The rest is history. We signed on as an exclusive dealer and I have to say I am amazed by how well the company itself is structured and operated. The quality is top-notch, the communication is excellent, and the accountability is there. All three things that Pool Pros needed in a manufacturing partner to ramp up our efforts and build more pools.
Some say talk is cheap and this couldn't be more true in the fiberglass pool industry. Everyone claims they are the best but at the end of the day there is only one that is the best. It was time to put the talk to the test and we decided to join River Pools in January of 2020 for the River Pools Wave Seminar. It was the first of its kind. It was a hands-on training seminar attended by builders from across the country. The veil was pulled back and River Pools showed us everything they were about. Nothing was glossed over, hidden, etc. The plant tour was amazing. They allowed us to look at whatever we wanted and to take photos of anything. I have toured all the top fiberglass manufacturers and River Pools was the only one that allowed photos to be taken. That shows how real and honest they are. There was nothing hidden from any of us. The enigmatic Marcus Sheridan was there and spoke to us all and let me just say it was inspirational. This guy was born to be a motivational speaker. All in all, I am very impressed with what River Pools has been able to put together and it appears that this is only the start.
WHY RIVER POOLS?
At the end of the day, what did it for me, is the history of River Pools. We have a mutual understanding of how difficult things were early on in the fiberglass pool revolution. River Pools learned from the ground up as a builder first, just like us. That gives River Pools a unique insight that no other fiberglass manufacturer can or will ever have. River Pools experienced all of the issues that Pool Pros had. They used it and turned River Pools into not only the best fiberglass pool builder but the best fiberglass pool manufacturer as well. "The River Pools Way" is now used as the industry standard for fiberglass pool installations. They are also at the tip of the spear with marketing, education, and training. Other companies may be larger but no one is better than River Pools. We caught the wave, will you?!