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What We Did On Your Winter Vacation

It is REALLY difficult to stay in business in our industry, while paying employees year-round. Our competitors normally close for the winter, or at a minimum, lay off almost all of their help.

By the same token, we have really good, knowledgeable, professional team members here.  In years like this one, with 2.6% unemployment locally, most of our competitors can’t find decent help.  Their experienced employees don’t come back.  However, we don’t have to hire adults very often; we already have them.

Tod and I have been here since 1981.  This October, Joe will have his 25th anniversary here.  Patrick’s 20th and Jim’s 15th are in April.  Ann’s 10th anniversary was last January, and Anne-Marie’s 15th was last year.

We have similar experience with students. Our goal with the high school students is to let the bad ones go quickly, and keep the good ones through college.  How?  Lots of ways, but one is our scholarship program.  This year for instance, we gave one of our team members a scholarship to Nashua Community College, and Andrew received one to New England College.  While Stephanie was still in college, she received a few scholarships from us.  Stephanie, like all of our managers, started here while she was a student, and elected to stay on later.

What else do we do?  Work here 2½ years, and you’ll qualify for profit-sharing.  This year, we are contributing 20% of their 2016 salary into team members’ tax-free retirement accounts.

You have seen our classroom; which is used every week for team product or service training. Stephanie has been working for two years on all-new Power Point presentations on a dozen subjects.  If it requires travel, we travel. Patrick and Stephanie went to Atlantic City in January for pool and business training with the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals. Mia went to Scottsdale, Arizona, to study with the International Casual Furnishings Association; continuing round tables that she and Ann attended in Chicago last fall.  Stephanie has taken eight courses in Management, Coaching, and Interviewing in the last nine months.  Oh, and Rose and her husband, Chet, represented us at the Baquacil Dealer meeting in St. Kitts in January; including volunteering to fix up a children’s school there.

But how can we afford to keep highly-paid people year round?  We stay busy with projects.  We never hire a contractor to do work that we can do ourselves.  We do our own cleaning, we build our own displays, and we pre-price tag everything during the winter so that we don’t have to do it in summer.

If you have been in during the winter, you may have seen a re-design of our Pool Table/Game Table/Bar/ Bar Stool departments done by Mia.  For the summer, she created a new Patio Clearance department, she increased the size of the Game Table department, and she has a plan to change the “room” where you first come into the store, every month.  Another team member moved the Patio Cushion department, and it looks great!

Ann and Mia are undertaking a major change to the Outdoor Patio display, with all new “outdoor room” settings.  This season you will see lots of new recycled plastics sets in dining, seating, Adirondack chairs, tete-a-tete, gliders, accent tables, benches, trash cans, cushion boxes, and picnic tables.  Also be on the lookout for Mia’s candy-colored Adirondack chairs brightening up the outside of the store!

But the biggest change may be a total re-design of our Pool Supply department, done by Stephanie.  So far, we feel like mice trying to find the cheese in a new maze, but it is way easier to shop. Paul and Ryan built us a new pump display, so that more pumps are at eye level and there is more room to talk to us at the Parts department.