• Credit: Steve Bennett

Longtime industry member Susan Garzon passed away on April 7 after a two-year fight with pancreatic cancer. She was 53.

Garzon started her pool industry career with Ideal Pools in the Atlanta area before working at Blue Haven Pools & Spas in 1986 as a construction coordinator. She joined Sylvan Pools in 1987 as a scheduling supervisor and was the company’s first employee in Atlanta.

In 2000, Garzon was tasked with bringing the recently acquired Pools by Andrew into the Anthony & Sylvan corporate structure. Pools By Andrew was a well-established Florida chain and its purchase gave A&S a foothold in the Sunshine State. As part of that job, Garzon relocated to Orange City, Fla.

“Susan was an integral part of the Anthony & Sylvan family for 17 years,” said Stu Neidus, CEO of the Mayfield Village, Ohio-based company. “She was dedicated, hard-working, and expected the same from all. We remember her as industry-wise beyond her years and always willing to take on the hard assignments.”

While at Anthony & Sylvan, Garzon met her partner Steve Bennett, and in 2004 the two launched their company, Sweetwater Pool Solutions in Valrico, Fla.

“We wanted to do renovations; we thought there was a big need for it,” Bennett said. “We specialized in crack repair and pressure grouting, and there’s a lot of cracked and broken pools in Florida.”

Garzon ran the business end of the company, playing to skill sets she had honed at Anthony & Sylvan, while Bennett oversaw the field side. Both attended sales calls, and Garzon became one of the few women in Florida to have a swimming pool contracting license. The two truly ran the company equally, Bennett said.

“She knew every phase of the job; she knew what the costs were,” Bennett said. “She knew how to calculate every bit of it. She could stand in the office and talk to you about any detail of the job. [Garzon] getting the license enabled us to go out on our own, and we did quite well until the economy started to crash.”

During the time the pair owned Sweetwater, they completed renovations for more than 700 customers in the Greater Tampa area. In 2010, the company shut its doors, a victim of the recession.

“A Pebble Tec rep told me he called on over 700 licensed pool builders in ’06 in the tri-county area of Tampa, and when we went down, I think there were less than 20,” Bennett said. “It was over.”

After closing the business, Garzon and Bennett moved back to the Atlanta area.

“Susan was wonderful,” said Andy Bearden, construction coordinator at Finlon Enterprises in Atlanta, which specializes in pool and landscaping projects. Bearden met Garzon when they worked together at Blue Haven Pools, and later they both worked at A&S for many years. “She was a force to be reckoned with,” she added. “She demanded respect, and she got it.”