“Your a Lion, I follow him”
Well, the title of this article says it all! Yea right. Sounds like deep thoughts by Jack Handy from Saturday night live back in the day. Most of you will know what I’m talking about. This title came to fruition last evening after listening to a blog cast of someone whom I consider to be a leader in content marketing and Public speaking. Marcus Sheridan, from the Sales Lion. This was a tweet that I sent back to him basically giving him 2 thumbs up for his contribution to businesses all over the World. Got me thinking. Anyhow over the years I found myself doing a bunch of self promotion via my blog and thought it was time to give a shout out to the people that has influenced my good friend and partner Mike Neri and myself over the years. It sure was a journey well traveled. Let’s go back in time to the year 1991, the year I graduated High School, shall we.
Soon after graduating high school I took off to Bloomsburg University on a wrestling scholarship pursuing a career in Elementary education. I spent five years there, yes I was on the five year plan, not because I was slow or anything, just loved college life like the rest of us. Throughout my years in college I would work with a company called Russ Construction. We installed Stamped Concrete pool decks for many swimming pool companies. This is where I met my partner Mike back in 91. Can you believe it buddy, 23 years working together. Yup were getting old. Mike and I spent 4 maybe 5 years working together during the summers before my life in the real world was about to smack me in the face. So I begin teaching at one of the most affluent school districts in the country out in Pa. This is what I’m suppose to be doing, right? I have a Bachelor degree in Elementary education and a minor in Early childhood ed. This is what I’m expected to do, but my love has somewhat changed to Concrete. Really? Seems crazy considering I was making like 10.50 an hour busting my butt. This was all i knew. My father was a Highway mason for the Union and did quite a bit of side work on the weekends and had me pushing wheel barrels since I was like fourteen. He’s the first lion who began to shape who I am today. He’s a leo. What a coincidence. Thanks Pop!
So in 1996 my partner Mike goes off on his own and starts a company called Stamped Concrete Specialist. The company we were working for Russ Construction offered me my first business opportunity pressure washing and sealing their Stamped Concrete work. Soon after I opened doors Mike gave me a call to do the same for him. They were both were stamping just about every day. I was busy as heck. Loving my life, making my own schedule and running a business like a champ. I spent the next four years working for Stamped Concrete Specialist and Russ construction. Big Russ who we call “big daddy” and Mike who we called MN gave me an incredible opportunity right out of college and I ran with it and ran hard. These two were the next 2 lions who began to shape what will later become Artistic Pools. But were not there yet! The story get’s a bit interesting.
Moving ahead to the year 2000 I decide to branch off and Start my own Stamped Concrete company, but didn’t want to lose the opportunity to work with Russ and Mike. I spent the next 4 years running a successful stamped concrete company while still managing Russ and Mike’s pressure washing and sealing jobs. Crazy arrangement, wouldn’t you say. Russ got mike into the business, Mike got me into the business, I got 2 other friends of mine in the business that was working for me. Can you say competition. That kind of stuff ain’t happening today. The 90′s were busy man. We all remained friends and continued on our separate journeys, that is until 2004, when Artistic Pools was born.
I can remember the night very well. It was November 2003 just prior to the 2004 season. We stamp guys don’t work in the winter, so we have tons of time to ponder. I was thinking big, like I always do, I’m a Capricorn. I’m supposed to think big! Of course I had to run this big idea through my wife first, don’t we all. Didn’t think she would go for my “Big Idea”, considering her hormones were all over the place. We were expecting our first child so I wasn’t sure she would be open for any change considering I was doing just fine in the Stamped Concrete industry. I asked her, “Jenea what do you think about Mike and I Starting a Fiberglass Pool company”? I mean we were already doing the hardest part of the job, the concrete decking. We learned from Russ, whom we consider the pioneer of the Stamped Concrete industry here in New Jersey. Jeez the guy started in the 60’s stamping concrete with metal rollers. Talk about a die hard that just can’t seem to get out of this business even as he nears 70. He loves it too much just like we do. My wife said go for it Mark! You’ve been successful in all your endeavors thus far. So why not. That’s when I picked up the phone and dialed Mike. Here’s how it all unfolded.
Yo Mike! What do you think about going into the swimming pool business together. It makes sense, I said to him. We were indeed competitors but best of friends at the same time, so it seemed fitting to combine forces. Guess what his answer was. ” Let me call you back, I need to speak to my wife”. Bet you knew that was coming. About fifteen or Twenty minutes passed, then the phone rang. I was expecting the worst, but to my surprise he said “Let’s do it”. We were both pumped! But had to act quickly. We soon Joined forces with San Juan Pools out of Lakeland Fl to become a dealer and Distributor for Kirk Sullivan. Yup we were thinking Big! That Capricorn thing again. We quickly bought a 3 acre facility to handle the distribution of Fiberglass Pools. We were a powerful force right out of the gates. Our first year in business we installed 12 pools. Our second year we doubled our business to 24. Our third year we hit 30. Come our fourth year we hit the 40 mark and never looked back. We consistently install 40 plus pools a year and now distribute over 150 pools a year for Leisure Pools out of Knoxville TN, servicing dealers from Maryland up into Maine. So Kirk, we would like to give you a big shout out for believing so much in our business model. You Lion you! Oh, and to Mike you get a big Hell Ya for traveling the road with me, not only as a friend but an incredible business partner as well. Last but not least, Russ. You get a huge shout out for a couple things. One is buying www.stampedconcrete.com back in the early 90′s and for making me a part of that Journey. Glad you have the Faith! Secondly, for creating our incredible quote program, that Artistic Pools uses daily to get valuable information and pricing in front of our customers. You have helped us become innovators, Leaders, and most of all helped shape Mike and I into the business men we are today. We will continue to push the envelope my friend. Thanks for everything you do.
A big shout out to San Juan Pools the leader in the Fiberglass Pool industry. We are so glad to be a part of the most innovative Fiberglass Pool manufacturer in the world San Juan Pools. We are excited and thrilled to be a part of the San Juan Pools brand. We thank Kirk Sullivan and the rest of the team at San Juan Pools for giving us the opportunity to fully support their dealer base in the Northeast. We take great pride in knowing we are selling and installing the best made fiberglass pools in the world and that San Juan is here for the long haul. Kudos to a great team that is always pushing the envelope in the Fiberglass pool industry.
The Last big shout out goes to the people whom we call friends that work for Artistic Pools. Let me start off with my wife Jenea, who is our Office administrator handling customer service and Pool Permits. You get a Kiss, not a shout out for keeping on top of the permit process and handling day to day operations. A super loud shout out to Rick Thurman SR who runs our fiberglass pool depot, Rick Thurman JR who works with his father to ensure pools are being outfitted and ready for transportation. Robert Moore who is our CDL driver who spends his every waking minute delivering pools all over the East Coast for us. Thanks buddy for coming into our lives many years back. Your needed here. Kevin Thurman, yes another Thurman for being a Jack of all trades. Your a true professional whether your tiling, plumbing, opening, closing or teaching our customers how to operate their new swimming pool. Your services are very much appreciated. John Cutillo, my best friend in life since I was born. John has sold many fiberglass pool projects over the years for us and your hard work and dedication is much appreciated. Thanks for the work ethic you put forth each and every day. Your the bomb buddy! Lastly the entire Concrete crew for producing some of the most amazing Stamped Concrete projects around. That’s the Artistic Pools Story. Just know when choosing Artistic Pools, You’ve made the right choice!