California Pools has gone bicoastal.
Effective Feb. 1, the West Covina, Calif.-based builder will
officially have a licensee, or “dealer,” operating in
“We are thrilled that we have not only received such positive
response to our expansion plans, but to be entering the Florida
market tells us that many of the harder-hit regions are on a
comeback and that there are people out there eager to align
themselves with solid companies with the backing and resources to
take them to the next level,” said Steve Terry, vice
president, licensee development.
Though company officials had earlier stated that the firm
wouldn’t extend across the country so soon, its focus shifted
after being approached by industry veteran and former California
Pools employee Shane McLemore.
“We weren’t campaigning to be in Florida because we are
trying to keep the reins in so we don’t go out of
control,” Terry said. “But we had a prior relationship
with Shane, so we felt comfortable.”
After studying the market, McLemore had noticed a lack of major
builders with solid brands in the region, so he seized the
opportunity to open a licensee operation with a name and corporate
“Everyone I’ve spoken to has had a positive comment
about the California Pools brand being in this market,”
McLemore, who at one time was California Pools’ director of
operations for commercial and residential construction in Palm
Springs, hopes to capitalize on the home-building activity in
“Our goal is to be a production-minded pool company and try
to do 100 pools in our first two years,” he said.
He does not yet have any jobs lined up, but feels confident that
the three months of campaigning which the company did in
preparation for the grand opening soon will begin to pay off.
“I’m anticipating a very good spring,” he
Initially, California Pools’ East Coast office will operate
as a mobile company, but McLemore expects to open a
brick-and-mortar operation in the next 18 to 24 months.
However, not all builders have the same forecast for the coming
season. Though the area’s home values are rebounding and the
market is starting to turn, some suggest it will be a difficult
sell for California Pools, primarily because the down economy
forced many builders to close their doors, making homeowners
skeptical of lesser-known companies.
“It will be a tough push to come in and survive,” said
Ken Gregory, president of Evolution Pools in Orlando and chairman
of the Florida Swimming Pool Technical Advisory Committee, a
Florida Building Commission group. “It can be done, but
it’s not going to be a cake walk.”
Nevertheless, Gregory welcomes them with open arms. “The more
the merrier,” he said. “The water is fine.”
Despite an uncertain future in Florida, California Pools is
planning a strategy to increase its opportunities in the region
later in 2013, now that it has an East Coast presence. In fact, the
firm is exploring expansion into Georgia and already is in talks
with McLemore to open a second location in Florida, in either
Sarasota or St. Augustine.
“Once you have a base camp in a certain area, it opens us up
to other options,” Terry said. “With this, we’ve
decided we would put our arms around the Sunbelt. But we’re
taking it one step at a time.”
As progress unfolds in Florida, California Pools also is
celebrating the opening of its first licensee office in Salt Lake
City, as well as a second dealer in Austin, Texas, which is
anticipated to open in March.
Founded in 1952 by Wayne Steimle, the family-owned firm is composed
of 17 independently owned agencies throughout Southern California
and one corporate-owned office. Additionally, there are eight
licensees in Arizona, California, Florida, Texas, and Utah.