There are so many paths to this industry that it’s always interesting to learn a professional’s origin story. The same holds true for Steve Gutai.
He is well-known in the industry as a hydraulics expert, product developer, educator and salesman. But people may not know he once was a working musician. Indeed, he attended an accredited music school and performed as a jazz and blues guitarist until age 27.
At that point, he decided it was time to move on. He began servicing pools in 1986. Once he entered the industry, Gutai fully committed. After a couple of years, he started his own company, Prestige Pool & Spa Service, which handled service, repair, and renovation and warranty work in the Los Angeles area. He obtained service and construction licenses and worked on commercial waterfeatures, as well.
Celebrating his 30th year in the pool/spa industry, Gutai has come a long way.
He moved into manufacturing in 1997, joining Waterway Plastics as technical service manager/spa OEM sales. Around then, he became affiliated with Genesis, for whom he taught hydraulics courses.
A couple of years later, Gutai headed to Jandy Pool Products at the invite of Vance Gillette and David Nibler, then company executives and later his mentors, along with Scott Frost. Gutai took the title of outside territory sales manager, covering the Southwest. He helped incorporate pumps and filters into Jandy’s product selection and, in the early 2000s, moved out of sales and worked on product development in those product categories. And during that time, he attained a Bachelor of Science degree from University of San Francisco.
When Zodiac Pool Systems acquired Jandy in 2008, Gutai was promoted to director of product management, hydraulics and heating systems. He had a hand in developing the Versa Plumb System, but said his “crowning jewel” would be the JXi gas pool heater.
Over the years, Gutai’s director roles at Zodiac evolved: From 2011-13, he headed new products development, hydraulics and heating systems. He oversaw some trade marketing activities as well. And since April 2015, he has served as director of sales and marketing.
In addition to his close involvement with Genesis training, he also has taught hydraulics seminars at trade shows and meetings of Carecraft, Aquatech (now UAG) and Master Pools Guild. As if that weren’t enough, he belongs to the APSP Technical Council and served on the committee that wrote ANSI/APSP-7 Standard for Suction Entrapment Avoidance. He also now serves on the APSP Energy Coalition and CPSA.
As he looks back over his career, what stands out for Gutai are things like the close customer relationships he has been able to develop, as well as close ties and guidance from very good mentors.
His busy schedule often includes travel, so there’s not a lot of down time. But when he is in R&R mode, Gutai likes to watch NBA basketball, listen to music and hang out with friends — and he loves spending time with his wife, Kaori, and daughter.