Six months after entering the U.S. market, Australian retail/service firm Poolwerx has made a second acquisition, placing it in two more key Sunbelt states. The Brisbane, Queensland-based company purchased the retail and residential servicing and maintenance division of fellow franchiser VivoPools, based in Monrovia, Calif.
“Will Johnson, [CEO of] Vivo, is a very good manager and a lovely guy to deal with, and he runs a good business,” said John O’Brien, Poolwerx founder/CEO. “His three managers in those three locations are very capable and very strong managers. So it was a good business and in good locations.”
This newest acquisition will bring the Poolwerx moniker to Southern California, Central Florida and South Arizona. The deal includes three locations, each with its own brand: SC Pool & Spa Works in San Clemente, Calif.; Citrus Pool Services in Hernando, Fla.; and Crystal Tech Pools in Tucson, Ariz.
The rest of VivoPools' business remains as is, under the same ownership.
Though Poolwerx is known for its franchise model, the former VivoPools locations will be corporate-owned and used as a home base for building up and supporting local franchised operations in the future.
In March, the Australian retailer entered the U.S. market with the purchase of Cactus Valley Pools in Phoenix. At the time, O’Brien stated that his company planned to expand throughout the Sunbelt and gain 300 locations in five years. In seeking franchisees, Poolwerx will consider existing American operations whose owners want increased purchasing power and centralized support in training, marketing and human resources. The company also expects to grant franchises to people from outside the industry looking for such an opportunity.
Not only is Poolwerx a major name in the Australian pool market, but it is one of the country’s most well-known franchisers. Founded in 1992, it has 85 retail locations and 300 vehicles across its home country and New Zealand. Poolwerx officials estimate that it accounts for approximately 10 percent of the market there.
The Aussie firm employs what it calls a “hub and spoke” model, whereby a retail location serves as home base for several service vehicles. The Southern California and South Arizona locations already are set up for that model, with retail outlets and service trucks, while the Central Florida operation only includes a warehouse for its service vehicles. O’Brien said it will likely add retail in time for summer 2016.
Including all purchases so far, Poolwerx now has 17 retail locations and 49 vehicles in the United States.
“By the end of 2016, we want to have 50 stores and 90 mobile service vans and trucks,” O’Brien said. “So we’re on track for that.”
For the time being, the former VivoPools operations will keep their current names. But by year’s end, O’Brien expects them to have completed their transition to the Poolwerx brand.
While VivoPools CEO Willan Johnson will no longer be affiliated with the locations, Poolwerx plans to retain the current staff of approximately 45, including the manager of each location.