• Three generations: Brian, Eugene and Darrel Short (L-R) have been key to Custom Pools’ success.
    Three generations: Brian, Eugene and Darrel Short (L-R) have been key to Custom Pools’ success.

Brian Short has made headlines for his celebrity clientele, but his business goes beyond that. “I’ve got a reputation for thinking out of the box,” said the president of Custom Pools, a builder/retailer in Newington and Portsmouth, N.H.

Short has been approached for pool projects by everyone from Stephen King, Bill Cosby and George H.W. Bush to ski resorts, affluent homeowners and folks of more modest means. “The majority of clients are high-end,” he said, “but we’ll do nice little 20-by-40-foot pools, too.”

Of the 100 pools his firm builds each year, there’s usually one for a celebrity. Short traces the celebrity business back to an article about Custom Pools in This Old House magazine years ago, which got the attention of film studios. “The studios’ big thing is, get it done on time,” Short said. Known for its ability to do just that, his company got the job building a pool in only two weeks for Columbia Pictures’ Adam Sandler comedy “Grown Ups 2.”

Founded by Brian’s now-retired father, Eugene Short, in 1968, the business includes a number of dedicated family members: Brian’s son, Darrel, is vice president; wife Mary Ann, human resources; daughter Kelsey, accounting; sister-in-law Jennifer Craft, manager of both stores; and son-in-law Tory, a key salesman. Then there’s the experienced staff of nearly 60, most of whom have been there over 15 years.

For Brian Short, the pool business has been his life. He would stock shelves and run the cash register after school. “I’m 100 percent a pool guy,” he added. “I enjoy creating stuff, working on pools in the field, going out on sales calls, meeting people. A lot of my customers have become friends.”

As passionate as he is about pools, Short also loves collecting and working on cars. He has several Corvettes, a DeSoto and a Model A like the one his parents drove while dating in the 1930s — nine autos in all. “I had my parents pose with it for a picture,” Short recalled. He keeps his car collection in a big barn that he and his crew built. “In the off season, my guys do such work,” he added. “They also completely renovated our showroom.”