Steve Pham

I don’t know about you, but I am so sick of COVID. I’m over it — I don’t want to think about it, worry about it, or write about it. It’s lived rent-free in my head for far too long. It’s time to serve it eviction papers!

But I realized not too long ago that I’m actually profoundly grateful to the bug. In fact, I think it may have saved my life.

Let me explain.

The early days of the pandemic were truly terrifying for me and my family. The most vulnerable population and most at risk of dying from COVID-19 were the elderly, the immunocompromised and those with chronic health conditions, such as heart, lung or kidney diseases, diabetes, obesity, cancer, etc. (This is still true.)

With our multiple health issues, my husband and I pretty much hit the jackpot in terms of being at high risk. If we were to contract COVID and die, what would happen to our son? We have no family nearby.

The only solution was to get a handle on my health issues — I had been ignoring my Type 2 diabetes diagnosis for too long, and what I was doing wasn’t working. I went to my doctor at the end of 2020, and then added an endocrinologist the next year to help me come up with a plan to get my blood sugar under control.

Since then, I’ve made systematic changes and carefully followed the plan devised by my doctors. As a result, my A1C (the test used to measure your average blood sugar levels) has gone from a dangerously high 11 to a more normal 5.7. In addition, I physically feel so much better — I no longer have migraines or feel lethargic all the time, for example — but most importantly, I’m no longer at risk for so many health issues. And for that peace of mind, I have COVID to thank. I’m optimistic that the changes I’ve made are ones that have turned into healthy habits that will serve me the rest of my life.

Similarly, many of our stalwart pool and spa businesses have responded to COVID’s wide-reaching economic effects to great success. Whether it was addressing the constantly changing supply-chain issues, the incredible surge in demand and subsequent downturn, or finding ways to secure customer loyalty amidst unprecedented inflation, many of these business leaders saw opportunities to make profound changes to their business model, operations or staffing. These decisions have, in many cases, increased revenue, efficiency or customer service, and promises to have a direct impact on the future of their business.

The key to their success? Planning. I invite you to read our series of profiles in this issue, “New Strategies for a New Era,” by Deputy Editor Rebecca Robledo, to learn how seven such pool and spa company leaders — from all sectors of the industry — have managed to pivot from the challenges COVID threw their way and lead their companies to greater success in a post-COVID world.

The series continues online through a generous sponsorship by Heritage Pool Supply Group, so be sure to subscribe to PSN/AI Insider, our monthly enewsletter, for the next few profiles.