In the internet age, industry associations are increasingly moving online, using digital platforms to bring professionals together. Knowing this, three pool and spa service professionals have made it their mission to create a nation of pool pros through their interaction with other industry pros on the Pool Nation Podcast.
The podcast was started by John Chakalis, Edgar De Jesus, and Zac Nicklas, all of whom built their careers in pool and spa service.
John co-owns J& J Flawless Pools in the Coachella Valley, California, with his wife, Janey. Edgar is the former owner of Aqua Bright in Orange County, California. Zac coowns The Pool Boys in League City, Texas, with Justin Morehead.
The three service professionals believe that a rising tide raises all ships, and to that end are dedicated to raising the level of professionalism within the pool and spa industry.
Pool Nation Podcast founders John Chakalis, Edgar De Jesus, and Zac Nicklas. “One of the coolest things about our industry and one of the worst things about our industry is that anybody can spend $500, get a couple tools, and go out there and start cleaning pools,” John said. “That’s how I started. Anybody can enter, which I think is a beautiful thing. But when you have people out there that don’t have access to education and are doing things the wrong way, it puts a bad name on the industry as a whole.”
John, who was originally in the corporate world working 80 hours a week, decided to get into the pool industry almost on a whim. Driving home from work one day in 2016, he saw perhaps 10 different pool trucks that he’d never before noticed and decided right then and there to start his own business. He spent a year attempting to educate himself on everything pool related and found that it was very difficult to find consistent information.
“It was a struggle in the beginning,” John said. “But we endured. I love to read, and I love to learn. And over the course of that journey, I got to the point where I was able to share some of my knowledge — particularly business acumen learned from my previous work.”
Zac said he ran into similar hurdles regarding accessing good information after he and his best friend started their pool maintenance business in 2010.
“In the beginning, everybody was very guarded,” Zac said. “It was hard to find a mentor or get training. I got all my information from my SCP counter rep. And what we’ve really found is that a lot of the information that’s out there skips the basic things that people are looking for. A lot of our positive feedback is on entrylevel topics and discussions.”
Sharing their knowledge to ease some of the struggles of operating a pool business is what motivated the three service pros to start the Pool Nation Podcast.
“Running a successful pool business is a lot more than just scrubbing a tub or pushing a pole,” John said. “To really understand the complexities of a pool, as far as chemistry, engineering, electrical, plumbing, and most importantly, the business side of it, is really difficult. We saw a need for the information to be out there.”
Since September 2020 the Pool Nation Podcast has produced more than 120 episodes. Many of their shows feature discussions with well-known industry professionals, such as Hasa’s Terry Arko, Taylor Technology’s Wayne Ivusich, the late pool chemistry expert Bob Lowry, and many more.
A lot of the podcasts are focused on answering service pro questions either through taking listener phone-calls, or questions posted on their website. Conversations about running a small business are a huge part of the show.
For example, when asked what platforms are best for marketing your business, they all agree that social media has changed the advertising landscape for businesses, and you need to have a presence on them. But creating a really good website is key, with an “about us” page and transparent rates that specify the exact tasks that you perform. Ensure that there are no grammar mistakes. Focus on building your brand and your level of service.
Make your logo very visible. Wrap your truck. Wear your company shirt everywhere you go. Drop a stack of business cards at the restaurants where you eat. Build a strong brand that stands out.
These and other pearls are what listeners can expect to find on any given episode of Pool Nation Podcast.
John, Edgar, and Zac all remember what it was like starting out and how very difficult it seemed to get support. The Pool Nation Podcast is about creating a support structure for service pros to help them grow and succeed. It’s a safe place where you can ask any question, big or small.
“If you’re brand new and you’re out there by yourself, always think ‘Big Picture,’” Edgar said. “Surround yourself with people that truly want to see you succeed. When I started, I had 50 pools. To be able to make that journey to 250 pools — it’s a long trek, and it’s a hard one. It’s not something that happens overnight. But if you’re constantly thinking big picture, set goals, and surround yourself with a group of people that will help you in your journey, you’re going to put yourself in a position to succeed in our industry.”