Like the king in Greek mythology, California pool professional Troy Becker seems to have the golden touch wherever his career path takes him. First he dove into the health-care industry, working at a couple of firms before joining Golden West Health Plan. After college, he eventually became its president, taking it from a $2 million to a $17 million company. His career trail then wound through management positions at other health-care firms, dipped into website start-ups for the dental industry, and general business consulting. Meanwhile, his parents had a property management company, and Becker’s involvement there led him to obtain a contractor’s license.
He enjoyed success at every turn, then came to a crossroads.
“It got to the point where our three kids were now going to school,” Becker recalled. “My wife and I wanted to quit commuting and buy a local business. As it turned out, Jeri was the attorney for the Ojai Pool Store and also a real estate broker. She knew when it was going up for sale and told me, and we decided to buy it.”
That was in 2006. Believing that most businesses are sold because they’re losing money, Becker set out to discover why this one came on the market. It took him six months to analyze the operation, then he made radical changes in the décor, the inventory, the service operation, even the location. “So many pool stores are blue and white, and chemicals wall to wall – and we were 1,600 square feet of that,” Becker said.
The move from an industrial area to a smaller retail store in a developing neighborhood proved to be just what the doctor ordered. They shifted the stock from being 90 percent symptom treatment products to those that attack the root cause of pool problems, such as scale removers and enzymes. The service operation underwent rapid expansion to a team of three full-time technicians and an install/repair specialist. The company services approximately 150 pools monthly and, with the help of subcontractors, builds custom gunite and fiberglass pools. At the store, traditional pool and spa fare such as supplies, toys, equipment and water testing are all available.
The remainder of the space, however, is devoted to more unusual gifts such as tropical bikinis, sunglasses, sporting goods, candles and scents, and more. And this store sports bright colors, such as a fuchsia and turquoise exterior. It’s not your grandfather’s pool store!
How does the community feel about this somewhat unorthodox store? Every year the Ojai Valley News publishes a “Best of Ojai” competition, where readers vote for their favorite businesses. Becker’s store made the list in 2012, as it has since 2007. It sounds as if he’s still got the golden touch.