It’s a decision every family business eventually faces — when and how to set a succession plan in motion. For Chris and Robert Anderson of Custom Design Pools, the planning will kick into high gear this winter.
“Future planning is complicated,” explains Chris Anderson, vice president of business development at the company. His father is transitioning out of the business over time and needs to train someone to handle his responsibilities, Chris says.
“We’re bringing in a business planner and will continue through the winter,” he notes. “We’ll figure out how to position the company, come up with the right package, the right transition path. Pool companies like us that are small have to find out the true value of the business and do our due diligence.”
How CDP got to this point requires a trip back in time. Robert Anderson, who’s been in pool construction since 1980, founded the Friendswood, Texas-based pool firm in 1994, putting in 10-hour days building and then, at night, selling, designing and working on permits. He realized there was a need for unique custom pools and a client/builder relationship that went “beyond the call of duty” — and he was willing to put in the hours to make it happen.
Chris joined the company seven years ago. He had graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in construction management. He thought of joining his father’s business, but he’d worked in student media in college, so after graduation, he handled web development and sales for the Dallas Morning News, and later worked for a Nebraska gubernatorial candidate.
Then came the call from his father, inviting him to join the company.
“It was a turning point,” Chris recalls. “Now we could focus on much bigger stuff, and we found efficiencies so we could do things quickly and better.” Most importantly, it would free up Robert Anderson to focus on construction, installation and scheduling, while his son handled design and sales.
“I truly respect the business he created, and I built on that,” Chris says. Currently, the staff includes the father-son team and a superintendent, plus 40 to 50 subcontractors. Chris’ two older brothers have different careers.
One of the best things about being in a family business is that, well, it’s family. “My father and I are a good combination,” Chris says. “He wants the best for me … and I work harder because my work affects the family. We rely on each other; there’s a family bond — we don’t want to let each other down.”
He says he’ll be ready when the time comes to take the helm. He’d like to hire more staff and grow the business, such as doing more landscaping. “But we’ll see what the transition will look like before I make a lot of changes,” Chris Anderson notes.