Getting to know industry professionals
‘MEET THE POOL PROS’
If you’ve been active in the pool and spa industry for a length of time, you’ve probably met or heard of Terry Arko. Perhaps you’ve attended one of the hundreds of seminars that he’s given at nationwide tradeshows over the course of his 40-year career in the pool industry. Maybe you’ve read one of dozens of articles he’s written on water chemistry. You might have even obtained your CPO certification after receiving the necessary instruction from Arko.
Terry Arko has made a career out of information dissemination of pool and spa water chemistry. He’s proficient in chlorination, clarification, surface staining, phosphates, nitrates and more.
Arko has over 40 years of experience in the pool, spa and hot tub industry, working in service, repair, retail sales, chemical manufacturing and product development. He is a CPO instructor through the National Swimming Pool Foundation. He’s also an instructor for the new Pool Chemistry Training Institute to certify residential pool techs. He’s on the Board of the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance’s Recreational Water Quality Committee. He currently works for HASA as their Technical Content Product Manager, where he provides all of the company’s technical training, both in and outside of the company, all of their written materials and presentations.
Like so many pool and spa professionals, Arko fell into the pool industry when he was in his early 20’s and looking for direction. A friend asked him if
February 1, 2021 Service Industry News he’d like to learn the pool and spa business, and his career was born.
He started working for Karl’s Pools in Arcadia, California, in 1979, servicing and repairing pools. A year later, he transferred to a management position at Mountain View Pools in affluent Monrovia, at a time when hot tubs were becoming popular, and hot water
Page 23 chemistry was a relatively new concept.
Arko says that in the early 80’s, hot tubs were hot, and the company he worked for was among the top selling dealers of Leisure Time Chemicals, which specializes in top-of-the-line spa chemicals. And for the next ten years, he developed his education and foundation in water chemistry.
In 1989, when an advertisement came up to work in technical customer service for Leisure Time Chemicals, in Irwindale, California, Arko was a shoein. He spent 8 years in customer service and product development, writing technical articles and teaching water chemistry courses. At the time, Leisure Time was manufacturing the top selling clarifier for spas, a well-known product called Bright and Clear. In the early 90’s, however, a new company surfaced in the pool and spa industry that began to offer Leisure Time some competition. The company was called Vanson Chemical, located in Redmond, Washington, and the product was called Sea Klear.
Sea Klear’s product was like nothing seen before in the pool and spa industry. Called chitosan, it is made of the shells of crustaceans, and it has a unique ability to clear up water. Initially used by the Navy to clear up turbid ocean water at dive sites, the product began to gain a foothold in the pool and spa world.
Sea Klear was problematic for Leisure Time, particularly in Florida, where it was becoming popular as a pool and spa clarifier, so Arko’s boss at Leisure Time asked him to look into it, and create a counter marketing plan. After a lot of research and testing, Arko had to tell his boss he didn’t think they could sell against it.
But in the time he’d been researching Sea Klear, he’d made a lot of contacts there; when they asked him if he’d like to come to Washington state and work for them, Arko didn’t have to think long.
It sounded like a new adventure, and Arko’s family was ready to move away from their L.A. life.
“The time with Sea-Klear for me was tremendous as I was rubbing shoulders with rocket scientists, a micro-biologist and a PhD chemist. So, here I was this pool guy from Monrovia, but the whole team treated me like I was one of them. The collaboration and what I learned through it was life changing. To this day people think I am a chemist and I have to remind them that I am really just a glorified pool guy.”
He was with the company for 24 years, serving as Sea Klear’s Technical Director, riding through its merger with HaloSource and its acquisition by Natural Chemistry, which later became NC Brands.
But after NC Brands was acquired by KIK, Arko parted ways.
Now, he works for HASA, a leading producer and distributor of high-quality water treatment solutions and a premier source for sodium hypochlorite, or liquid chlorine. He does for HASA what he does best: provide technical training and technical writing on pool and spa water chemistry.
“For me working for HASA is like I have come full circle. HASA’s 4x1 deposit liquid chlorine and muriatic acid was such a big part of my life as a pool service tech. When I got into managing a retail store HASA was the brand of liquid we sold. I still remember using a handcart every morning to move the day’s supply of product out to the front of our store. Doing that every morning saved me on a gym membership.”
Today, he enjoys a quiet life in Washington, about 25 miles north of Seattle. He enjoys gardening and walking his dog and spending time with his family, and he’s currently working on a juvenile fiction book, inspired by science fantasy authors like C.S. Lewis and Neil Gaimon, and he hopes to have the book out by this summer.
He also recently published a book of poetry, one of his other life-long endeavors. Entitled Out of the Dark House, Arko says writing poetry offers him an escape from the industrial articles he writes day by day.
Arko’s poetry book can be found on Amazon, with paperback and Kindle editions available for purchase.