About Pools.com

Pools.com began in the mid-1990’s when a group of four separate retailers in the swimming pool and hot tub industries began meeting together to share their experiences and seek ways to learn from each other and grow our businesses.

These four partners included Aqua Quip in Seattle, WA, Arvidson Pools & Spas in Crystal Lake, IL, Great Atlantic, in Virginia Beach, VA, and Ultra Modern Pool & Patio, in Wichita, KS. Individually, each of our companies were successful, family-owned businesses with more than 25 years history serving swimming pool and hot tub owners in their local communities.

One of the early projects that we collaborated on was a market research survey that included nearly 25,000 pool and hot tub owners around the country. Our initial interest was to learn more about what pool and hot tub owners wanted from their local dealers. Our goal was to learn from existing customers how we might reach out and attract new customers.

This market research survey was very helpful to each of our businesses individually. We learned much about the level of loyalty that we could expect from our customers and we learned important details about how we could do better.

One of the surprises that emerged from the survey was the information that suggested that among pool and hot tub owners only 30% of them actually considered themselves loyal to just one professional dealer. Amazingly to us, nearly 70% of pool and hot tub owners were inclined to prefer the products and services of the local, independent, professional pool and hot tub dealer.

Not only did this information provide us valuable insights into managing and marketing our own dealerships, we also learned that of the 70% of non-aligned pool and hot tub owners, many of them felt that shopping on the internet for swimming pool and hot tub supplies was just as appealing as shopping through catalogues and big box merchants.

The criteria they provided us about their conditions of shopping on the internet seemed simple enough. They required three major conditions before they would see the internet as an attractive alternative:

Main Conditions for Swimming Pool and Hot Tub owners to shop on the internet:

1. Fair prices

2. Reasonable delivery times

3. Safe purchasing environment (secure credit card transactions).

These same survey respondents also shared with us that they preferred some sort of local dealer option if they ever needed that personal assistance.

It would be impressive to say that this information jumped out at us immediately and that we began laying plans to form a new website on the spot. Not so. We took the results of the survey back to our businesses and began implementing plans to further solidify our status in our own communities with our existing customers.

It was only several meetings and many months later that we addressed the opportunity that we had learned of through the survey. Coincidentally, one of our partners owned the URL “Pools.com”. Over a series of discussions, we began to build a list of advantages that supported our consideration of forming a new internet business:

Advantages that led us to create Pools.com in 1999:

· Realization of the strength of the URL “Pools.com” that one of our partners owned

· The growth in internet traffic and usage

· The demographic “fit” between pool and hot tub users and internet shoppers

· The breadth of our experience as business owners

· The depth of our knowledge of the swimming pool and hot tub industry

· The many strong relationships that we appreciated with major manufacturers, distributors and dealers within the industry

· No one else in our industry (that we knew of at that time) was doing business on the internet and being very early to market might afford us an opportunity to make our mistakes and learn quickly from them.

We decided to take the plunge! (pun intended) By spring of 2000, we started doing business as Pools.com. By August, we launched our first website and began selling product before we really had any vendor relationships set up outside of a local distributor who was willing to work with us on a new business model that included direct fulfillment to consumers throughout the country.

The first year of planning and developing our business was a wonderful time for us. Even though we had very little money, we were growing together as new business partners. We were very fortunate to have found each other initially and to have built our relationships based on our mutual trustworthiness and integrity. Today, we’re still together and we remain united in our goals for our company. Imagine how grateful we are for our ability to resolve conflict in peaceable and productive ways! What a great ride we’ve had so far.

From the beginning we knew that the trust that existed between we partners had to be the foundation of our relationship with our future customers. With time, we have grown to realize that the internet is not an “impersonal” thing at all. Internet shoppers are real live people. There is nothing impersonal about our approach to doing business with them. We must execute every transaction in a trustworthy, respectful, and personally fulfilling way.

Today, we’re proud of our growing team of associates who are dedicated to making our customers’ experience with Pools.com a world class event. In March, 2005 we introduced a powerful new website. It was designed to reflect our desire to make doing business with Pools.com an easy and on-going relationship. We hope you agree that we have achieved our goal, and we invite your input and suggestions as we strive to improve our product offering and customer service.

Dennis Marunde,
CEO, Pools.com