In our last issue of Service Industry News we featured Dan Duker’s appearance on Mike Rowe’s hit show, Dirty Jobs.
Duker, a second-generation pool professional, is the owner of Vinyl Pools LLC in West Palm Beach, Florida, and has all the qualities that Rowe looks for when he’s trying to find dirty jobs. First, and foremost, Duker is a family man, running the family business. But beyond that, he’s able to be successful by working hard and doing whatever is necessary to get the job done.
Anyone watching the season 10 premier of Dirty Jobs could see that replacing that particular vinyl liner was tough work. But in addition to cleaning out one of the most disgusting pools Duker had ever seen, he was also working against a nearly impossible clock.
Duker told us that he comes across a pool like this about once a year. Fifteen years ago, a hurricane did the pool in, and its owners, who had some health issues, gave up on it.
Duker said the water was so bad, not even mosquitos would breed there. “Usually in pools that have been sitting for 6 months to a year, we’ll see all kinds of life,” Duker said. “I see everything you can imagine: frogs, snakes, turtles — you name it. But this had been sitting for so long, I don’t think anything was able to survive in there.”
This was the kind of pool that would normally take at least two days to get done: one day to drain and another to muck out and install the new liner. But if he wanted to do the job on Dirty Jobs, he’d have to get it done in less than a day.
Rowe, the show’s host, had a tight schedule: He was flying into Orlando for a single day and had a speaking engagement that same evening. The production team said that if Duker wanted to be on the show, he’d have to be able to complete the whole job from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Duker said, “Not a problem. We’ll get there early and set it up. I’ll get the pool drained before he gets there.”
But the production team told him no. “We have to have this thing full of water. We want him floating in the pool. It’ll be a great visual.”
Duker was thinking, well, that really throws a wrench into things. Out loud, he said, “I’ll bring my big pump. Make sure he’s there by 9:30, and we’ll get it done.”
But as the day of the shoot rolled around, a big cold front came through, and Rowe’s flight was delayed by an hour. He didn’t get to the job site until 10:45 a.m., and they still had to do the shot with Rowe floating in the swampy water. They weren’t able to actually start draining the water until 11:30 a.m.
“And all the while, I’m stressing out,” Duker said, “thinking, this was going to be by the skin of my teeth anyway, with Rowe showing up at 9:30.”
That’s how a two-day job got done in 5 hours. Duker got his seasonal helper, Juan Pablo, as well as his father, Dave, to come out and help. Dave Duker started the company and taught his son everything he knows.
“It was great for him to get the recognition,” Duker said. “And since I was so stressed out toward the end of the episode anyway, Mike could talk with him, and I could actually get some work done.”
Duker says that since the show aired, he’s seen a huge increase in web traffic but no real change in sales.
“There are over 100,000 pools in Palm Beach County, but less than 1 percent of the pools in the area are vinyl,” Duker said. “I didn’t expect to get any work out of it. I did it because I’ve always liked the show.”