Dennis Marunde got more than he bargained for when he pitched
holiday decorating services to one of his pool customers.
“We called a client, who happened to own [several] Burger
King [franchises],” said the president of Arvidson Pools
& Spas, based in Crystal Lake, Ill. “We weren’t
even thinking about his business facilities, but when we called
about his house where we built the pool, he said, ‘I’ll
give you 13 jobs.’”
Arvidson is one of several industry firms to diversify its
offerings during the off season to include the service and
successfully market it to its existing client base. The company is
now entering its third season as a franchisee of Christmas
Décor, a holiday decorating and light installation firm.
Marunde first was introduced to Christmas Décor in 2008 at
the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo. Though it has been four
years since the Lubbock, Texas-based company has displayed at the
largest conference for pool experts, as of press time the firm was
scheduled to return in 2012 as part of an aggressive attempt to
recruit additional members.
In fact, it was Marunde’s enthusiasm for the franchise
that reinvigorated the firm’s interest in working with the
industry, said Brandon Stephens, president of the Décor Group,
parent company of Christmas Décor.
“Pools and spas is the second biggest industry we are
chasing right now,” Stephens said. “We are seeking
good, quality companies that know what it’s like to be in a
seasonal business and that are interested in growth and maximizing
Founded in 1986, Christmas Décor later began franchising in
1996 and now is available in 48 states and Canada. Currently, it
has more than 45,000 customers. To claim an exclusive territory, an
interested party pays a franchisee fee of $7,900 along with 5
percent of gross sales as royalties and 1 percent for marketing
For its part, Christmas Décor provides training and access
to business management software, as well as assistance with
“To me, the model made a lot of sense, and the hunch that
it made sense [has been] proving out over the last few
years,” said Marunde. “Right now we are projecting more
than double the business this year than last year. [Overall],
we’ve been on upward, double-digit growth.”
For decades, retailers have transitioned to selling holiday
merchandise to maintain profit margins between seasons. However,
this approach is gaining popularity for builders and others who
wish to capitalize on resources in otherwise slow periods.
Marunde is aware of roughly 12 industry members who are either
existing franchisees or who have expressed interest in becoming
one. In 2012, four additional pool firms became franchisees and
will begin offering the service this holiday season, Stephens
One such company is Puryear Custom Pools in Fort Worth, Texas.
The firm sees the decorating franchise as an ideal solution to a
downturn in jobs during winter.
“We are in the process of getting our marketing materials
together, and I expect to hear a lot right after Halloween,”
said Jennifer Satterwhite, vice president of the company, a Pool
& Spa News Top Builder.
In addition to adding a new revenue stream, businesses are able
to retain their employees instead of laying them off for the
winter. This is especially important to those in areas with cooler
climates, where the swim season is cut short.
“I’m trying to be the kind of employer who
doesn’t go through feast and famine, and who keeps people
year ’round without layoffs,” Marunde said.
“That’s an unstable situation, and I don’t like
This likely won’t be an issue for Marunde, who has found
alternative ways to utilize the lighting equipment for non-holiday
purposes, including graduations and weddings. Recently, a client
hired Arvidson Pools to decorate a barn for a reception. A guest at
the event liked the work so much that she rented the same venue and
paid Marunde to keep the lights up for the future event. He’s
also targeted a variety of other potential projects, including park
districts, retirement communities and even Chicago’s famous
Grand Victoria Casino. If that bid is won, the job will pay a
whopping $100,000, he said.