Veteran service professionals will tell you that one of the best things about joining a trade association is the interaction between oldtimers and newcomers. Experienced professionals are more than willing to share their expertise with novices, and this transfer of knowledge helps move the service profession from one generation to the next.
But in the 21st century, where much information is passed on electronically, mentoring often takes place not in a meeting hall, but rather through internet-based learning. Facebook groups, websites, and podcasts are the name of today’s game. These web-based portals offer much of the same learning experience as an association meeting, while providing the added convenience of on-demand and mobile training.
Today, there are more than two dozen podcasts devoted to swimming pools and spas. These focus on a range of topics, from drowning prevention to Olympic swimmers, from new pool construction to do-ityourself pool and spa care.
But the podcast that is perhaps best tailored for pool and spa service professionals is Talking Pools, created by Andrea Nannini, the 2018 Pleatco Perfect Pool Gal, and Rudy Stankowitz, a 30+ year member of the swimming pool industry and pool water chemistry expert.
Nannini is a 20-year veteran service professional. CPO certified and the creator of the Adventures of the Pool Girl Facebook page, Nannini followed her mother’s footsteps into the pool service profession when she was 18 and has never looked back. She’s passionate about remaining educated and has important insights about women working in a maledominated profession. The Talking Pools Podcast was her idea.
Stankowitz has been making a name for himself in the pool and spa industry for years, teaching swimming pool technical seminars and educational seminars worldwide. Before becoming an educational consultant for the swimming pool & aquatics industry, Rudy owned and operated a swimming pool service company in north central Florida, where he maintained residential and commercial swimming pools. He has also held key positions with two pool industry equipment manufacturers and has a decade of working in retail pool supply stores. He is an author of three pool care books and freelance trade mag columnist, Stankowitz believes in sharing information in a fun and engaging style.
The two podcast creators have been friends for years. Both from Florida, they met in a Facebook Group dedicated to snake identification. When they realized that they also shared a passion for swimming pool care, they knew they were kindred spirits. Over the years, they’ve had a lot of meaningful discussions about water chemistry and equipment repair, and at some point, Nannini thought, “people need to hear this.”
Initially, Stankowitz was skeptical and very reluctant to do it.
“Andrea approached me time, and time, and time again to do a podcast. I said, ‘there are all these other podcasts. The market is saturated,’” Stankowitz said.
But Nannini was persistent. “’You know what they don’t have?’” Nannini argued. “’They don’t have us.’ We were talking every day anyway. I would text Rudy with questions about things I would encounter throughout the day, and we’d have fun conversations. I just thought, people need to hear this.”
The main thing they needed to work out was their style and format. They didn’t want to do a lot of interviews; they didn’t want to do any preparation; and they really didn’t want to do infomercials for products they didn’t believe in.
“We wanted it to be like two pool pros meeting in the parking lot of the distributor warehouse,” Stankowitz said.
They just wanted something downto-earth and real. A year and a half later, it looks like they have achieved their goal, if their ratings are anything to go by. They have consistently been on Apple’s Top 100 list for all of Apple’s “howto” podcasts – not specific to the pool industry.
In the last year, they’ve expanded their repertoire, adding a few more hosts. Today, Nannini and Stankowitz take Fridays. Heather Linton from Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, does Wednesdays in a segment called “Hump Days With Heather.” “Tuesdays With Kelli & Dan” is hosted by Kelly Clancy from Sacramento, California, and Dan Lenz from Chicago, Illinois. They are all fairly well-known names in the industry.
The idea was to cover a broad geographical range with people who had a variety of specialties.
To that end, Linton is a pool builder and renovator. Lenz is also a builder with his own service company of 50 service techs. And Clancy does 100-percent pool and spa repairs.
“ You can’t be everything to everybody, but you can try,” Stankowitz said. “We thought we’d bring in folks with skill sets that we don’t have and then get out of their way and let them do their thing.”
Between the five of them, they cover just about everything there is to say about the pool and spa industry, from the business end to experiences in the field to problems that builders run into – the whole gamut.
Among the bigger conversations they’ve had lately are the recent chlorine shortages plaguing the industry, the rising costs of chemicals, and how to locate parts during the interruption in the supply chain.
Because they are all veteran industry professionals, they still know some of the old tricks of the trade that were common practice from decades ago. So during a time when chemicals and equipment are difficult to access, they have some useful tips for getting around the shortages.
They will talk about everything, including products they like and those they don’t, and they don’t steer away from controversial topics. The only things they won’t discuss are politics and religion. And while the podcast is sponsored by pool industry manufacturers, they don’t allow that to drive their conversations.
“If someone doesn’t want to sponsor us because of the topics that we talk about, I don’t care,” Stankowitz said. “I’m not going to sugarcoat things.”
For the whole team of the Talking Pools Podcast, it’s a labor of love for the pool industry that they feel has given so much to them, and they want to pay it forward.
They want to be a part of the education of the pool industry, sharing information with veterans and novices alike. And Nannini says the ease of listening to a free podcast from your truck in between pools makes accessing that information as convenient as possible.
“We just want betterment of the industry,” Nannini said.