Do you have that “Arizona dream” that includes enjoying sunsets and starlight from your own back yard paradise? Can you picture yourself barbecuing in a complete outdoor kitchen while the family plays a game of water volleyball in a beautiful back yard pool? Does your idea of a great night start with dinner and continue with quiet conversation with your spouse next to a fire pit in the winter or a waterfall in the summer; surrounded by plants that you have grown to love? Does the perfect night end with the kids asleep while you soothe away the day in a bubbling spa?
Jeremy Smith, owner of California Pools and Landscape says, “My family started building award winning back yards almost 25 years ago and we have not lost the joy that comes from helping our clients make their dreams come true.”
Jeremy works in the business next to his wife, Stephanie, surrounded by employees who are their friends and who they have knows since they were in high school. It is not a normal business success story.
It is as unique a story as the American dream that created it.
“My Dad and Mom worked their tales off and created this company just from a dream and a hope,” Smith reports. “ I grew up hearing about how important it was to make every customer happy, about how important it was to put your heart and soul into every project. I knew early on that we were honored to be chosen to work in someone’s back yard and to make their dreams come true.”
Along the way a lot of other dreams came true as well. “We got to witness the lives of our employees change, we got to see the company grow and become recognized as the most awarded pool company in the nation. Personally, I got to watch my parents retire and I was honored with taking over the responsibility of maintaining a perfect record with the Registrar of Contractors and of continuing the legacy of a company that believes that there is no excuse for failure.”
California Pools defines success or failure, not in monetary terms, but in the story that their customers tell their neighbors about their pool, their back yard, and the experience they have in getting their dream built.
“I learned that from my Dad,” says the younger Smith. “He always said that the only story that matters is the one that our customers tell when we are not around. Our job is to make their perspective one that we are proud of, no excuses.”
California Pools built a foundation of customer trust and a reputation that has served them well through the recent financial downturn and construction collapse of the Phoenix market. Swimming Pool construction has plummeted from over 25000 pools being built in 2006 to less than 3500 in 2009.
“I am convinced that we survived and are thriving in this atmosphere for only one reason,” says Smith. “It is only due to our reputation with our customers and their loyalty which resulted from years of hard work and dedication that all of my family and our employees put into countless back yards.”
“It’s a formula that is key to who we are and what we are. I laugh when people ask me now about why we continue to back our warranties and honor our customers when so many others in the industry are avoiding those costs. It is laughable to think that we would quit doing what has made us who we are and what we are,” Smith says.
“We are using this time to recreate our processes and our products. We have always been the leader in creativity and design, we are now also a leader in the new technologies that save energy and reduce maintenance,” Smith says. “But we will NEVER lose our biggest commitment, to our customer. We will offer new and better products and construction techniques. But what has that made us the #1 Rated pool company according to Best magazine and the most referred pool builder in Phoenix is one thing—our commitment to doing whatever it takes to make our customers happy with us.
Recently the younger Smith talked his father Mike out of retirement. “I am really proud of what has been accomplished over the last few years,” says the elder Smith. “My wife Joan and I set out to make customers happy one at a time and we did a heck of a job. But the pools we build today are more intricate, they include more diverse products, they include complete back yard landscapes, shade structures, outdoor kitchens, and incredible amounts of inter-related products. Joan and I could never have dreamed where this has gone.”
“Its great having Dad back in the day to day operations,” says Jeremy. “ He is old school some, we laugh at his difficulties with some of the computer technologies that are common place today. But when he speaks his passion for the customer we all listen. It is the single minded conviction to do whatever it takes to make a customer happy that drives us all. We know it is why we exist, why we thrive in tough times, and we know it is where our future is.”