The president of Aqua Quip might as well have been born with chlorine in his veins. Sure, Brian Quint had a head start by inheriting the business from his father, who started the company in 1959. But with eight retail locations currently in the Puget Sound, Wash., area, he has been an instrumental force in quadrupling the size of the family business since he came on board full-time in 1979.

Perhaps that’s why no other retail CEO comes more highly recommended.

Personal bests:

In 1999, the enterprising Quint orchestrated a mutually beneficial merger between his firm and Carlson Pools & Spas, a respected competitor headed by Eric and Kathleen Carlson. Their expertise in pool service and marketing provided the ideal complement to Aqua Quip’s proven retail brand and emerging construction division.

The partnership enabled Quint to realize his vision of a full-service company. It also established the new Aqua Quip as a model pool and spa business in the Pacific Northwest. And the company has become a Pool & Spa News Top Builder.

Lessons learned:

As a teenager growing up around the family store, Quint knew he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. However, his parents had other plans when Quint graduated from college. After attending a seminar on handing over the family business to offspring, his parents urged him to get some real-world experience first.

Thus, Quint spent the next two years working as a commercial lender for a bank in Oregon. “At the time, I was frustrated by [their decision] because I just wanted to get back to work,” he says. “But working as a lender gave me a better grasp and respect for the financial responsibilities of owning a business.

“In that sense, I think my parents knew what they were doing,” he adds.

When the time was right, he returned to the family business as store manager of its original location during Aqua Quip’s first expansion. Quint credits his success to three values that his father taught him: Always be collaborative, lead by the Golden Rule and never be content with the status quo.

“My dad used to say, ‘You’re either going forward or backward, but successful businesses never stay the same,’” Quint says.

Best business decision made in 2005:

For many pool and spa dealers, last year was a mixed bag. In some parts of the nation, the refinance craze was still booming, while others felt a small downturn that the experts kept saying wouldn’t happen.

Either way, Quint’s company was prepared.

Despite a winter drought and late rainy season, Aqua Quip managed to make 2005 a profitable year. It implemented contingency plans based on early indications that they might not meet their projections. After sluggish first-quarter returns, Aqua Quip’s management wasted no time cutting costs and devising a new budget.

Best business decision ever made:

In 1986, Quint convinced his father that their company was missing out on a growing market segment in portable spas. Acting as his own headhunter, he recruited Mike Genova from a local pool distribution house to help transition Aqua Quip into the retail spa business.

It turned out to be the best gamble Quint ever took. Today, roughly 40 percent of Aqua Quip’s annual revenues come from the sales of spas and related products. Considering the short Washington pool season, Quint says those sales justify the expense of keeping eight retail stores open year ’round.

Meanwhile, Genova eventually went on to become the founder of Leisure Concepts, a large manufacturer of spa accessories in Spokane.