|Tim and Catherine Love opened the Pool and Spa Connection at 8705 Asheville Highway in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1995. Twenty two years later, they have 18 employees and a second store located in Greenville (Simpsonville) at 108 Batesville Road.
The Loves have been in the pool and spa industry for many years. When Tim was in college, he started building pools, learning the trade from the ground up. In 1995, as Catherine states, “Tim got the itch to start his own business and here we are!” The Loves have that perfect blend of skill sets as husband and wife business owners. Catherine’s background is in finance and manages the retail and business portion of the company while Tim handles outside sales and construction.
In addition to hot tubs, Pool and Spa Connection builds in-ground pools, is a Bio Guard chemical dealer and carries Big Green Egg outdoor grills. They also repair and renovate pools, sometimes even filling them in! “We take care of pools from birth to death,” says Catherine with a smile. “About the only thing we don’t do is above ground pools!” she adds.
Catherine feels that what sets The Pool and Spa Connection apart is their service. She states, “We service what we sell of course, but we are knowledgeable about all brands.” They have a dedicated, in-house service department which Love says makes them more responsive to the customers’ needs. “A product warranty is only as good as the people who sold you the product,” she says. “We are not like some other businesses out there who offer a ‘Tail Light Warranty’…you know…when the warranty lasts only as long as you can see their taillights!”
Being in business for twenty two years, the Loves have seen the market cycle up and down. 2008 stands out for Catherine as a year they ‘weathered’, survived and came out stronger. “It was rough but we made it,” she states. She feels the survival of the Pool and Spa Connection is attributable to being willing to do what it takes. “We have a great staff here and they are willing to go the extra mile,” she says proudly.
Another challenge was expanding and opening the 2nd store in Greenville. “We’re too big to be small but too small to be big,” Love laughs. To make it work she and their staff ‘wear a lot of hats’ but keep it all about the customers. “We can’t do it without the customers and we can’t do it without the employees,” she states.
This year is proving to be a good year for the Pool and Spa Connection. The pool season is busy and the Loves wouldn’t want it any other way. “We’re going to meet and exceed last year’s sales,” says Catherine. Although they are on track to make this a record sales year, Catherine’s goal is to also keep everyone safe.
The Loves added Nordic Hot Tubs to their product line in 2010 and Catherine is very happy with the results. “I like their reliability and that they are closer to us here on the East Coast than other manufacturers,” she states.
Catherine has this advice for other Nordic Dealers, “Stick to the Nordic story! Talk about Simple, Therapeutic, Affordable and Reliable.” However, Catherine feels the most important thing is to be honest, sincere and have personal integrity.
Join Tim, Catherine and the Pool and Spa Connection Sales Team as they host a Nordic Truckload Sale this Thursday, May 25 through Saturday, May 27.
Contact Pool and Spa Connection through the website or find them on Facebook.
|After serving in the Army, Keith Bathgate entered a career in industrial sales. Then, after 22 years in sales, he decided to get into some mischief! He had a few ideas about what he wanted to do in civilian life but felt he needed some expert advice. So, he did what anyone in his situation would do, he asked his 3 young grandsons for advice. The boys, then ages 7, 5 and 4, came up with a few ideas but settled on advising Poppa to sell ‘little swimming pools’.
Bathgate personally experienced the relief of hot water therapy and began pursuing his young advisors’ idea. He contacted a friend who was in the pool and spa industry and founded Aqua Spas in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 2010. Currently Aqua Spas has a staff of 4, including Bathgate, his daughter and grandsons.
What sets Aqua Spas apart is Bathgate’s unwavering commitment to do what he says he will do. “If I say I’m going to do something for a customer, I do it!” he states. Just recently he completed service calls during the severe storms that cut through the area. “We told the customers we’d be there and I wasn’t going to let a little weather get in the way!” He adds with a chuckle, "Yeah, I got wet."
When asked what the biggest obstacle for his business has been Bathgate quickly responds, “That would be cash flow!” He works hard to build and keep Aqua Spas as a debt free business. “I don’t do debt!” he states emphatically. “We're expanding and moving to a new store in early August and I’m investing in that but have to keep everything else going as well.” He concedes it is a balancing act at times but knows that his business is poised for significant growth which makes him excited for the move.
Aqua Spas has a great line of products for people with active lifestyles. In addition to hot tubs, Bathgate’s grandsons advised him to carry skateboards, long boards, cruisers and gear. Bathgate also decided to add a line of grills and Trikke™ Carving Vehicles for the adult enthusiast. He gives riding lessons for the Trikke™ “like a drill instructor,” he says with a laugh. However, when his customers finish his course they are confident on the vehicle.
It was 2013 when Bathgate decided to bring Nordic Hot Tubs into his showroom. “The Nordic Rep had called on me for years before I made the decision. I’m just cautious that way,” he explains. When he finally ‘pulled the trigger’ he realized he had made a good choice. “I really like the simplicity of the Nordic tubs!” he states. “Everyone can understand how to work them.” He feels Nordic is a great hot tub for families to enjoy as they fit within a wide range of budgets and have a simple, “not fussy”, yet thoughtful design. “Plus, Nordic is one of the most enjoyable companies to work with!” he adds.
Bathgate offers this advice for other dealers, “Enjoy the business and talk to your customers! Find out what they want!” He encourages business owners to stay involved with deliveries. “I show up with every delivery and don’t leave until the customer is sure of how it works and has all their questions answered. The last piece of advice he offers with a sly grin and then a hearty laugh, “Don’t sell in my territory!”
Bathgate and the Aqua Spas Sales Team can be contacted through the website or find them on Facebook.
|Patrick Landry, owner of Island Spas in Burlington, Massachusetts, is one of those mechanical geniuses that can fix almost anything. Eight years ago, as an owner of a hot tub, he enjoyed the relief and relaxation a hot water session gave him. Then, when his hot tub needed a few repairs, he repaired it. This turned out to be the beginning of Island Spas, where Landry repairs, refurbishes and resells used hot tubs out of his garage. Last year he decided to expand his inventory by bringing in Nordic Hot Tubs as his ‘new’ inventory.
Landry operates Island Spas on a wholesale basis, without a dedicated showroom. This business model allows him to keep prices down and devote more time to refurbishing, delivering and servicing hot tubs. “We feel this gives us a far better pricing and service advantage,” states Landry. “We service and deliver everything we sell and we give great after sale service!”
Being that Island Spas began as a hot tub re-sale operation, Landry states his biggest challenge was finding enough pre-owned inventory to keep in stock. However, now that he is has added new models to the inventory the challenge has changed. “Now we’re looking to improve our marketing strategy and, sincer we're currently working out of a 2400 square foot space, we need to find a larger, affordable location,” says Landry. “The location may turn out to be the biggest challenge.”
This year has already been a strong sales year for Island Spas. “Yes, but we are always looking to sell a larger volume of units,” states Landry. He knows that moving to a larger location will allow him to display more units and increase his sales.
One of the techniques Landry uses to increase his sales and fully use his current location is to host truckload sales. By bringing in a truckload of hot tubs he temporarily increases Island Spas inventory without making a permanent space commitment. Landry’s customers benefit in that they can view a wider selection of hot tubs, purchase with discounted prices and enjoy a quick turnaround on delivery.
Nordic Hot Tubs have been a good fit for Island Spas. “I really like their simplicity, quality and reliability,” says Landry. “I don’t have to test Nordic’s when they come in and they don’t have field problems!”
When asked what advice he has for other dealers, he pauses. “I’m kind of new at the retail game but I do see that most pool and spa stores focus more on pools than spas. There is a lot of potential there so, I guess I would have to say don’t ignore that potential!”
Island Spas is hosting a Nordic Truckload Sale Event from April 28 – 30, 2017 at 83 Alexander Road, Unit 7 in Billerica, Massachusetts. Join Landry and the Island Spas Sales team at as they offer an expanded selection of hot tubs to choose from.
For more information, Island Spas can be contacted through the website!
- Holiday Pools and Spas
- TAS Hearth and Home
- Le Dipping Parlor
- Spa & Deck Creations
- American Pools and Spas
- Tennessee Hot Tubs
- Bontrager Pools
- The Great Soak
- Rivertown Spas, Pools and Billiards
- Country Acres Pools & Spas
- South East Spas
- Royal Billiard & Recreation
- Altman's Billiards
- Paradise Pool and Spa - NC
- Long's Wet & Wild
- Minnesota Hot Tubs
- Hotwater Works
- Ratliff Pool Center
- Mister Spas
- Tropical Spas & Pools
- Pool and Spa Mart (Carefree LLC)
- Haven Spa Pool & Hearth
- Volunteer Pools and Spas
- Family Pools
- Signature Pool & Spas
- North Eastern Pool & Spa
- Sensational Spas
- Atlanta Spa & Leisure
- All Seasons Spas