Rick Argovitz | Crain's Phoenix

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Rick Argovitz

Background:  

Scottsdale-based Glacier Pool Coolers offers a cooling solution to hot swimming pools. The company was awarded a method and apparatus patent in 2009 for its technology. Glacier’s technology has been available through distribution and retail for over a decade.

The Mistake:

The mistake I made when I got into the swimming pool business was not understanding the relationship building that exists in the network of companies and distributors in the industry. It’s about trying to build long-lasting relationships with loyalty. In this business, a lot of people come and go. It’s a recurring, start-fresh-every-year business.

If I had known that, I would have likely sold the business earlier. We’ve been trying to sell for a while. There’s not a lot of loyalty in the swimming pool business. There’s not a lot of stability with companies that are around a long time. You’ve got all these fresh companies coming into the market; fresh pool builders coming in; fresh pool-service people coming in all the time. It’s a rotating door.

The support system for companies is hard. That’s what I’ve learned in this business. 

You’re constantly marketing. You’re constantly advertising. You’re constantly trying to build your customer base, but the customer base keeps going away. Their loyalty to your company isn’t driven by service and excellence; it’s all driven by price. If another competitor comes in and drops the price, the customer will go buy from them and drop you. There’s no loyalty; that’s the sad thing about it.  

Sometimes, they eventually come back to you. It’s just a rotating-door business. That’s the swimming pool industry. That’s just the way it is. We’ve been in business for 14 years and we’re still fighting every year to get new customers because we’ve lost old customers. We have old customers buying from other manufacturers because they’ve dropped the price by $10. It’s not a real building-block business.

You’re constantly trying to build your customer base.

The Lesson:

You just need to really maintain your service and maintain your product quality. You need to keep your communication intact with your customers all the time. If you have a superior product – which we do, and we are told that by our customers and by the reviews – that keeps you going and makes you sure that you can take care of the next customer out there. You take care of the next pool customer that's not getting a quality product. 

That’s the thing that keeps us going, because we have a really, really good product. We take care of the customer with service to the end and we’re happy about that. We’re proud of that. 

That’s the positive. We really are helping homeowners get into nicer, fresher pools and get out of hot pools. They’re saving money and saving on their bills. We get those people back to us and it keeps us going. 

Follow Glacier Pool Coolers on Twitter at @GlacierPoolCool.

Photo courtesy of Rick Argovitz

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