Tina Brown says she was “just a mom who had some issues with management of my community pool. The water wasn’t balanced and equipment wasn’t handled properly. It led to frustration.” But rather than complain, she decided to do something about it. The Greenville, S.C., native obtained a CPO license and went on to take over management of that pool.
When it needed repairs, she asked a leak detection specialist she knew to recommend “an honest pool company.” He suggested Jimmie Meece in nearby Clemson, who not only did the repairs, but then began servicing the pool. Three years later, Meece, who owned several ASP franchises, called and asked if Brown was interested in buying a franchise. “You’re good with people; you know what you’re doing,” he said. She told him she would have to pray and consult with her husband, Ed. He was supportive, so she went for it, opening ASP of Greenville in March 2011.
Go for it!
Her staff of seven technicians handles residential and commercial accounts throughout Greenville County, in addition to doing renovation and repairs. The crew includes two women — one handles maintenance jobs, and the other can fix equipment. Brown says both of her sons have worked in the business, too. “Everybody is friends and family, and I trained them all,” she says.
Brown is adept at keeping the office humming, but she also makes a point of showing up at all of her jobs. “I’m hands-on; I like to keep up on what’s happening. If I don’t know it’s broke, I can’t fix it,” Brown says. “I don’t want to be one of those owners who is so removed from their business that they’re surprised by something that has gone wrong.”
That doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing, though.
While she loves working outside and helping people, the down side of the business is that she must compete with some firms that she says are “less than ethical.” She explains that “it’s a seasonal industry and you must make a year’s worth of income during the season,” which apparently results in some questionable practices, such as suggesting work to customers that isn’t necessary because it’s “a perfect opportunity to upgrade.” Still, Brown says, “I don’t want to sound like I think they’re all bad because I don’t. …”
Besides, she’s busy focusing on her own business. “I really have to go above and beyond to prove myself in this industry. I put in long hours,” Brown says. “It’s hard to be taken seriously: I’m a woman, and a tiny one at that, at 4 feet 11 inches.” But it doesn’t dampen her enthusiasm for the job. To other women considering this line of work, she urges, “Go for it! Go for it! Go for it! If you can raise children … if you’re a woman, you can do it!”