Brandon Miller was a mere 27 years old when he signed papers to launch his first fiberglass pool company. A year later, the owner of Cajun Pools & Spas in Breaux Bridge, La. took home a 2013 Pool and Spa News Masters of Design award.
This was all part of his plan.
Miller is a third-generation builder who learned the ropes at an early age from his grandparents and later, by visiting his uncle’s Illinois pool business during summer breaks and after high school. While there, he absorbed all he could about pool building and running a company — knowledge he took back to Louisiana to start his own firm.
Eyes on the prize
But he also noticed Chicago-based Signature Pools & Spas’ 2009 Masters of Design win, and set out to earn the prestigious industry award himself.
“When I saw the design inspiration and work they were doing, it pushed me as a competitor,” he says.
He decided to shoot for the same award as a way to gain recognition. To his surprise, he won on the first try.
Miller’s first client had a number of unique requests, including something he wasn’t even sure could be done — a tanning ledge on a fiberglass pool. As he recalled to PSN in 2013: “If that’s what you want, I’ll find a way to build it.” He did. Featuring a multitude of custom ad-ons, including what is reportedly the first tanning ledge of its kind, the award-winning pool captures a number of elements once thought only possible with gunite. (To see the award-winning project, go to poolspanews.com/cajunpools&spasmod.)
In just six short years, it seems as though Miller, now 33, has built a business on taking risks. He has made a name for himself by infusing sophisticated materials and unique design elements into fiberglass projects. In 2013, he recognized the need to diversify quickly and entered the gunite market. And his willingness to embrace social media early on has set him apart from the pack. Instead of posting a photo of a pool, Miller would use Facebook as a way for friends to follow along as a pool underwent construction, sharing a series of before, during and after images. That marketing approach has earned his company plenty of traction online.
“We are just making sales through Facebook,” he says. “We are going out to the home and we are just picking up checks. They know before we meet that we will deliver what they want.”
Tenacious from the start
Of course, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. After all, he and his wife officially entered the industry at perhaps its most challenging time to date. But the determined builder wouldn’t let a down economy get in the way.
“We didn’t look at it as tough; we looked at it is as though we were a new company that people haven’t heard of yet. But in actuality, it was a market that wasn’t stable and we were a new company people hadn’t heard of yet.”
This blind confidence gave Miller an edge, and people quickly began to take notice. He has gone from about 10 new builds and renovations per year to upwards of 50 projects in 2016. So far, he has built roughly 60 pools with his custom tanning ledge, a number he says is “extremely high” considering the process it takes and the cost to do it. And the requests continue.
So does industry recognition. Both leaders and peers have turned to Miller for insight. Soon after his first project was completed, Miller began receiving calls from builders throughout the country inquiring how he achieved the design. His manufacturer asked him to lead training sessions to teach his methods. And he has served as a consultant to a few industry peers, traveling to New York on one occasion to assist with a project that featured a tanning ledge on a fiberglass installation.
A passionate advocate of proper fiberglass pool construction, Miller also has offered unsolicited advice to at least one builder who unknowingly posted photos of faulty work on Facebook, prompting Miller to reach out and lend a few tips. The builder plans to join Miller on an upcoming project to get hands-on installation training on proper technique and materials.
“It puts a black eye on the industry,” he says. “If we can help builders who were taught wrong, it will help us sell more pools and make the industry more successful on the fiberglass side.”
For these efforts, the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals’ Wave Network has named him Young Professional of the Year.
Miller has no intention of resting on these laurels. Instead, he continues to carry on the family’s legacy with hopes of passing the torch to his younger brother, Brookes Richard, in the next 10-15 years when he’ll “maybe enjoy an early retirement.”