Melissa Crow
Melissa Crow

How do you go from cleaning teeth to cleaning pools? Ask Melissa Crow.

After more than 20 years as a dental hygienist, she said she was “ready to get out of the office and do something different.” Did she ever!

Crow’s interest in pool service can be traced to her brother, Wayne Gable, who is an ASP franchisee in Charleston, S.C. When he heard she was looking to switch careers, he pointed out that there weren’t any America’s Swimming Pool Co. franchises in her area. She decided to go for it, and now is the owner-operator of two franchises — ASP of Mobile and ASP of Baldwin County in Alabama. Her brother is a partner in her new endeavor, along with her CPA husband, Allan. They act as consultants, while Crow runs the company and also goes out on the route.

Of course, Crow had acquired pool service skills, but said that first year was still “kind of overwhelming at times. Now we’re in our second year [and some things are becoming routine]. I’m no longer bored! I tell myself that sometimes when there’s so much to do. It’s a lot of fun, but hard work, too.”

Her company services residential and commercial pools of all sizes. “I take care of the biggest pool in Mobile County — a 325,000-gallon country club pool — down to one that could fit into a bedroom,” she said.

Her crew includes the manager of the Baldwin operation as well as a full-time technician, who also happens to be her son, Tyler, age 22. She also works with four or five subcontractors. As she noted, her firm does all sorts of work, including installing equipment, salt systems — everything but build pools.

It isn’t all smooth sailing, though. “I think it’s a little bit of a disadvantage to be a female service tech,” Crow said. “People expect a man. I’ll answer the phone and they’ll say, ‘Could I get one of your guys to check out my pool pump problem?’ I’ll say, ‘Well, that’s something I do.’ Then there’s the actual physical work, the lifting of heavy things. … But I’ve done it. You must be a pretty tough woman.”

In fact, she said with a laugh, females contemplating this line of work should “lift weights and get strong.” Then she got serious and said, “There are obstacles and you must figure out a way to get around them. I always thought I wanted to have my own business, but I never knew how hard it was. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do all I’d like to do. It’s a challenge.”

And this service tech wouldn’t have it any other way.