Matt Miller knows that when you start in the spa business, you don’t leave the spa business. His grandfather, Lorin Johnson, started Raft to Rafters in Columbus, Indiana in 1974 and Matt began working for him in the field, when he was 14. Matt left to complete a degree in Aviation at Purdue University and worked as a commercial pilot for a number of years. However, when Lorin’s health dictated he step back from the business, Matt returned to Columbus to help, and ended up purchasing Raft to Rafters in 2012. Matt says with a laugh, “I had never ordered anything before in my life!” |
Raft to Rafters offers in-ground and above ground pools, hot tubs, chemicals and toys. Matt has expanded the business to include outdoor furniture, grills, gas fireplaces and fencing. They even have a landscape architect on staff! His goal is to be a one-stop destination shop for his customers.
Before Matt took the helm at Raft to Rafters they were selling “about 1 tub per year” says Matt. “In 2012 we sold 16 tubs, 2013 we sold 39 and in 2015 we sold 65!” That growth is driven by Matt’s leadership, having the right people in the organization and a vision for the future. Matt takes being a business owner very seriously. “We have 16 full-time employees” states Matt. He is keenly aware that they depend on him for their livelihood.
Matt strives to build relationships with his customers and his employees. The proof is in the longevity of service of his staff and the return business from his customers. “We know our customers on a first-name basis” states Matt. “We even had customers come in and say, ‘Where’s my wedding invitation?’ in 2015 when Lisa and I got married!”
Finding great people to work on his team is very important to Matt. He knows they are his ‘face’ to the customers. Occasionally he finds it challenging in the current labor market. “They [the employees] have to be interested in working.” says Matt. “We want to find good people who want to make it a career. We take good care of our employees.”
Raft to Rafters is looking at a great 2017. Matt is excited about the people he has in the key positions of Store Manager and Service Manager. He has recruited “top notch” people and is looking to expand into multiple locations over the next few years.
In 2012, when they brought on the Nordic Hot Tub line, Matt was impressed that a Nordic Sales Rep came in and trained him and his staff on selling techniques. “It made such a difference just having that contact!” states Matt. He is also pleased with the price point of the Nordic line in his market. “The tubs look good. The synthetic cabinet, DTS and whirlpool action are all great selling points along with being made in the USA.” Although his service calls with Nordic tubs are minimal, he is very satisfied with the responsive Service Techs at Nordic. “Oh, and the drivers are awesome!” adds Matt “They go above and beyond!”
Matt’s advice to other dealers is, “Choose your manufacturers for their quality and support. It’s not about the cheapest product. Find a partner – like Nordic is - because the warranty is only as good as the people standing behind it.”
Raft to Rafters will be hosting a Nordic Truckload Sale from October 5 - 7, 2017. Join them for great savings and get yourself into some hot water during this annual event!
Find Matt and the Raft to Rafters team at their website or on Facebook.