Julie” is a bit of a local celebrity in Aspen, Colo. The
co-owner of Ajax Pool & Spa, Juliet “Julie” Phelps,
is known as much for her charity work as for her successful retail
and pool service/repair business. (And, yes, she’s a Jacuzzi
“I don’t want to brag about it,” Phelps said of
her charity work. “It’s something you do from your
heart. ... I like to help vets, children, the disabled, and do
things for my community.”
She assists many groups, such as Challenge Aspen, which provides
recreational and cultural experiences for people with physical or
cognitive disabilities, including a program for injured military
personnel. “They bring legless vets to Aspen and teach them
[to ski or ride snowmobiles],” Phelps said.
“They’re feeling down when they arrive, and it’s
life-changing. It costs $2,000 to bring one vet, so I set aside
$200 from each spa I sell.” That can add up to $8,000 in
For other nonprofits, she might donate products for fund-raising
giveaways. “You don’t have to give a lot of
money,” Phelps added. “Just find out how to
For example, she also buys a year’s worth of radio spots to
promote various local charities. When Crystal River Elementary
School needed a playground, her call for volunteers to help build
one did the trick.
So how did this big-hearted entrepreneur come to the pool and spa
industry? As the daughter of a Minnesota pool builder, Phelps was
well aware of the trade. She started selling spas in the
’70s. Later, her family moved to Florida, where she met her
future husband when he began working for her dad.
In 1984, Patrick and Julie Phelps moved to Aspen, where they had
honeymooned. He was hired by the local pool company; she got her
real estate license. In 1993, they started Ajax Pool & Spa.
Recently, they relocated to a 5,000-square-foot store in nearby
Phelps’ altruistic nature naturally extends to customers.
Folks know what to do with their homes, but have “not a clue
about their backyards. I see it as a blank canvas.” And she
has plenty of ideas for that canvas: Integrate the living quarters
with the yard, adding an outdoor kitchen, hearth, spa.
”I’m always looking for trends,” she said.
“I’ll call my new place the Backyard Design Center.
We’ll have a man cave [with] a Jacuzzi 415, and a
Ladies’ Spa Room. Don’t we all need that?”
Sounds as if the Aspen area is in good hands.