It was a birthday to remember. First, there
was a big party for Joe Secard at a restaurant last month, complete
with belly dancer, and then a gift of an Ensenada, Mexico cruise
with five of his close friends.
After all, it isn’t every day you reach your 80th
Secard is following it up this year with another milestone —
55 years in the industry. It’s been quite a ride for the
president/ founder of Secard Pools & Spas, a Rancho Cucamonga,
Calif.-based retailer with 10 locations.
Hailing from upstate New York,
Secard became a machinist after high school, working at Douglas
Aircraft and various machine shops. He went to California on his
honeymoon and liked it so much, he moved there. He and wife Mary
Ann now call West Covina home and have a summer beach house in San
Secard’s interest in pools grew from his experience getting
an aboveground model for his backyard in the ’50s.
“Doughboys were a new, hot item then, and only available at
Sears,” he recalled. When his neighbor saw it and wanted one,
Secard bought another and sold it for a profit. Something clicked,
and an obsession with pools was born.
In 1958, he founded Secard Pools & Spas. His parents and other
relatives joined him on the West Coast in the ’60s. “I
gave them jobs. By 1962, I had six stores,” he explained. His
crews install aboveground and inground pools, and the stores sell
spas, accessories, billiard tables and more. Also under his banner
is Splash-A-Round-Pools, a softsided pool maker.
He’s scaled back on his workload and currently puts in
half-days at the flagship store. He plans to turn the business over
someday to his children — son Eddie, vice president; daughter
Jodi, CFO; and her husband, Shad Kidder, general manager.
As Joe Secard discusses the industry, it’s easy to see why
he’s stayed with it for more than five decades. “I love
everything and everyone,” he said. He paused, then shared a
story. “I’ve asked 40 kids this question, and only two
have answered it correctly: ‘If I give you a chicken, what
will you do with it?’ [Thirty-eight] said they’d take
it home to mom to cook, and have a party. The other two said they
would raise it and have eggs,” he said approvingly.
Indeed, he’s big on common sense. “College
doesn’t give you common sense,” he continued. “A
lot of people go to college and get smart, but they can’t fix
a leaky toilet or change the tire on a car.”
Asked what’s next for him, Secard didn’t miss a beat.
“Old cars and young women!” he said with a laugh.