After more than four decades in the swimming pool industry, Ken Rogner retired in May 2011.
The respite was short lived.
Two days later, just after celebrating his 70th birthday, he took on the role of vice president of networking and education for Carecraft, a collective buying group based in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
“When Greg [Howard] found out I was retiring, he said, ‘I’ve got exactly what you need,’” Rogner recalls. “He said, ‘A part-time position you can play with and continue to do the things that you have been enjoying. And I said, ‘Gosh, don’t you want some 28-year-old for social media marketing,’ and he said, ‘You will learn all the things you need to know about social media, but I can’t teach anyone what 45 years in the pool industry has taught you.’”
Rogner entered the swimming pool industry in 1967 and worked for the Michigan-based retailer Cinderella. He helped establish the company’s distribution operation in 1969 and served as its president until 1984. Two years later he and three partners purchased Benson Pump Co., where he served as president until it was sold to SCP in 1999, which became PoolCorp in 2006. He continued there as corporate sales trainer until May 2011. It was during his last few years with the distribution giant that he began dabbling in social media.
“I was totally fascinated by how social media was impacting sales and marketing and changing the world we live in,” he says.
His curiosity paid off. By the time Rogner joined Carecraft, he already had 1,000 friends on his personal Facebook page and was using Twitter regularly. But he still had to learn the many nuances of the other programs available. After a while, however, he says it becomes intuitive.
“The older we are, the more intimidated we are. But hey, if this 71-year-old guy can get excited about it, then no one has a good excuse,” he says.
Today, Rogner travels around the country interviewing Carecraft members as part of a video series he films for the company’s blog. He also oversees the firms other social media endeavors, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.
To date, he has uploaded 95 YouTube videos and posts a blog every week. The videos vary in length, subject matter and focus. Some discuss a particular project while others are testimonials.
Most recently, he completed an 8-day trek across Texas, where he shot at 14 different locations.
“When I got into the pool business, they didn’t even have cell phones yet, but I absolutely love what I do. It’s very exciting and we all really need to be a part of it,” he says.
In the end, however, Rogner believes social media can only take a business so far.
“It’s still, ‘How good is your customer service?,’ ‘How good is your reputation?,’ ‘How long have you been in business?,’ ‘How trustworthy are you?,’” he cautions. “All those things are still a determining factor. All this is one more tool in your box that makes it easy to share that you are very good at what you do. It’s all about communication.”