“I feel like I’ve led two different lives,” said Gayle Earle, owner of Crystal Clean Pool Service in the Scottsdale suburb of Phoenix. Over the years, she’s also been a certified life coach and hypnotherapist; led wild dolphin and whale swims in the Bahamas, and lectured about the marine mammals at schools. “I stopped doing it because I’ve been busy building up my service business,” she said, adding that for 15 years, she and her family also raised guide dogs for the blind.
To say Earle can multitask is putting it mildly.
Her pool service career began when her children were very young and she was a stay-at-home mom. Her neighbor’s husband had just left and Earle thought maybe she could help by cleaning the pool. “I did it very, very cheaply,” she recalled. “It was my first pool. Then I thought maybe I could do others.”
She had a two-door Topaz at the time and drove around with a telescope pole sticking out the window, Earle recalled with a laugh. The car had company signs on the sides, and often she picked up business as she drove her son and daughter to and from school. As a new company owner, she obtained help from a small-business counseling firm, and learned about the pool service trade by going on ride-alongs with a technician, and asking questions at the warehouse where she picked up supplies, now in a van. Early on, she joined the Independent Pool & Spa Service Association, where she held various officer positions over time. Nowadays, she’s a member of the United Pool Association.
From 1991 until five years ago, she went out on the route regularly. Earle, who has C-06 and L-06 Arizona contractor licenses for residential and commercial pool service and repair, respectively, manages the office more now, but sometimes goes out to do repairs and new-pool start-ups. Son Chris, 29, is the service technician for the company’s 55 accounts.
Earle quickly rattled off what she likes most about the pool service business: the freedom, the flexible schedule, the ability to set her own prices and, it must be said, the ability to drop customers who are problematic. Yes, there have been some clients, especially from other cultures, who had trouble accepting a female service technician. For example, one transplant from overseas refused to speak with her. “He would hang up on me, talking only to my son,” Earle remembered. “I said no one could disrespect me that way, that he was in the United States now” — and she dropped him as a customer.
When she isn’t dealing with service challenges, Earle enjoys hiking and hanging out at the family pool, an 11,000-gallon rectangle. “We have a very small backyard and the pool takes up most of the space. It looks out over the desert … and every night in the summer, I’m out there,” Earle said.
What’s next? “Now I’m looking at life and what I want to do with it,” the 50-something entrepreneur said. “I want to give back to humanity and animals. I’m ramping up. In a couple of years, I’ll know what I want to do.”