Father’s Day is a time to honor the unsung heroes who have dedicated themselves to their families with unwavering love and sacrifice. It is a day that reminds us of the invaluable lessons imparted by fathers, particularly the value of hard work.
From the early morning hours spent toiling away to the sweat on their brows and the calloused hands, fathers show us the importance of dedication, perseverance, and the satisfaction that comes from a job well done.
As our Father’s Day gift to you, we present the following tribute to a loved and respected father, Rudy Stankowitz, which comes to us from his son, Jacob Stankowitz, a secondgeneration Pool Professional
Legacy Pool Service Techs by Jacob Stankowitz
Chlorine. That was my Dad’s smell as far back as I remember. My Dad, his clothes, his truck, all the same: Chlorine. It wasn’t harsh or intense; I was used to it. It was the odor he always carried. Sometimes my olfactory senses tricked me into thinking he came home early when a load of whites went into the wash. Sounds funny when I think back and realize he had a chlorine cologne.
Tagging along on the route was fun at first. I was hanging out with my father and helping, pretending I was grown. As I got older, my father would give me more and more responsibilities. I remember the first time I got to brush; I was excited about it. Unfortunately, it eventually became more like work than play, but he always paid me at the end of each day. Cash money in my pocket was a good thing.
——— Each summer, I rode along more and more. Back-to-back days, blistering heat, random numbers being rifled off. “Brusha, brusha, brusha,” he shouted at me from across the water. Slacking wasn’t an option. We were there to work. I don’t know how many swimming pools we did together, but it had to be in the thousands. Forget about the mailman: I watched my Dad go out in the rain, sun, heat, and cold, early in the morning until late at night. There was a level of commitment that I didn’t understand. Later on, it hit me; we were not just cleaning pools but making them safe. I’m not going to lie: As much as I liked hanging out with my Dad, on the days my friends were all at the beach, I just wanted to hit the waves.
As the years went on, I started adapting to this lifestyle. I began to notice a change in my mindset. Things that never bothered me before became irritating. Waking up at 5 in the morning, which I had never had to do before. Or whenever I saw a landscaper even driving down the road, I became irritated. Knowing I was about to show up at a house with five kids, there would be 30 toys in the pool. I wouldn’t say I liked that.
Frustrating, but it had to be done. I found myself caring about how well
“Growing up with parents in the pool industry taught me to have pride in my work, complete things the right way, and lend a helping hand to other pool pros whenever I could help.”
— Kelli Clancy, Legacy Pool & Spa, Sacramento, CA the pools had been cleaned. I also had a few wake-ups at 3 a.m. in a panic, trying to remember if a hose had been turned off. Knowing I did well helped me sleep at night — knowing we did the job right. The constant routine we were on drove me to be a better worker, no matter how much I hated it at first. It was a real coming-ofage experience. It made me a better worker. It made me a better man. I’ll never forget the first time I learned to use a test kit (insert mad scientist laugh here). ——— It’s satisfying when you can love what you do, but getting recognition for what you do is fantastic. Trust me: The money doesn’t hurt, either. Spending all that time each summer and on weekends made me consider the pool industry. Even though there were days when he would get hurt later on, my Dad still went out and supervised his employees and took on most of the commercial pools himself — seeing that sucked. It still seemed as if he found it rewarding. I don’t know why he had not given up; there was no complaint.
People joke about chlorine running through their veins. Figuratively speaking, it’s no joke. What an awesome thing it is to see as a youth growing up. This work ethic I was learning would stick with me throughout my life.
My Dad would talk to me about getting paid what I was worth, not undercutting the market and going for easy money. He said the lowballers damaged the market and that a customer who shops price isn’t a customer I’d want to have.
That went over my head, but I never forgot it. Later, I would see it for myself. The low prices they charged made it challenging for legitimate companies to ask for the going rate without a world of backlash.
Same place, same day, same time — I’m not sure how doing what you say you are going to do and being where you say you are going to be when you say you’re going to be there doesn’t build a solid reputation with your customer. I grew up around this under-promise,
“When I was a kid, I loved helping my parents with their retail store because I was the official ‘toy tester,’ so I got to go to all the trade shows and help them decide what to bring in for the summer. As I got older, I learned from my parents firsthand about leadership, entrepreneurship, and how to run a business.” — Alex Coyne, Half Shell Enterprises, Indian Harbour, FL ——— over-deliver kind of stuff and saw the impact of customer word-of-mouth. Knowledge, customer relations, and a good attitude about what we do are what it comes down to, as well as simple things like answering the phone.
——— There’s a stigma about this business. Unfortunately, outsiders see us as underachievers (again, thanks to the low-ballers) who are only capable of toting a vac and swinging a net. There is a science behind what we do, and an incredible amount of knowledge is required that outsiders do not comprehend. The pool person is only the pool person to them, but my customers see what I do each visit, and they don’t see it that way; you build esteem in a job well done.
As an adult, I have decided to follow in my father’s footsteps and do what I was taught as a child, partly because I want to and partly because I got sucked in, like everyone else, the whole Hotel California thing. It’s nostalgic for me. Whenever I am cruising around, doing my route, I pretend my father is yelling in the truck with me: Brusha, brusha, brusha. And I get in my game.
There are a lot of people in the industry like me — not the people who stumbled across the industry and fell in ass-backward — the men and women who were born into it. I’m not saying we’re any better than someone who had a different “bring your kid to work day,” but there’s a connection we pool tech tweens and teens have, I think. It’s something that sets us apart. I mean, by my first year as a pool person, I already had 10 years of experience. It’s that understanding of what it took our parents to get to where they were. It’s an insight other people don’t share or understand. It’s a pool service tech legacy.
“Well, growing up in the business did not start positively. My Dad was a hard-ass. But as I’ve gotten older, I realize how hard he had to work to provide for his family and how many life lessons he taught me daily. Unfortunately, I took those lessons for granted in my youth and even my young adult life. I try to tell my Dad now that I am proud of him and how grateful I am for those lessons I use daily to provide for my family.” Tim Graham, Pool Care Professional, Seguin, TX