Every year, manufacturer Pleatco honors pool/spa service professionals who have been nominated and judged to be at the top of their game — the Pleatco Perfect Pool Guy and Perfect Pool Gal.
This year, the company honored two individuals who joined the industry after making career changes. Both have progressed through the trade quickly, not only capitalizing on skill sets gained from previous jobs, but also making the most of their newfound love for the industry and its products.
Perfect Pool Gal Amy Marie Lemieux and Perfect Pool Guy Fred Goss were honored at a ceremony held at the 2022 International Pool | Spa | Patio/Deck Expo in Las Vegas.
Amy Marie Lemieux
A relative newcomer to the pool/spa industry, Amy Marie Lemieux has quickly made her mark.
Originally from Ohio, she joined the industry after working in several other trades — many of them male-dominated. In one of her first jobs, she washed semi trucks for her stepfather’s company. She has worked in auto parts stores, on farms, at state parks, where she could change toilets, hand dryers and other machinery. She also has cleaned houses.
Most of these jobs had one thing in common — they kept Lemieux outdoors. So when she and her husband moved back to Florida, after having to leave during the Great Recession, it seemed pools were the perfect fit for a new career.
“I wanted to be outside again,” she says. “So I thought pools are the best thing in Florida — everyone has one, they’re everywhere, and it’s all year long.”
Before starting her own company in early 2022, she worked for two other firms. It’s not often that you come across a somewhat diminutive, female, 40-something rookie service tech, so she had to overcome some reservations to land her first job.
“I had to convince them that I was worth taking a shot on and that I would figure it all out,” Lemieux says. “I had to convince them that I could lift the 40 pounds of salt, the 50-pound bicarb bag — that I could hold my own. Then they took a chance on me.”
She mastered the job in quick order. She did research and took any and all educational opportunities available in the industry. Within a few years, she was training newcomers for her employer. She developed her own training program in that capacity.
“When I worked in North Carolina for a park, I was an environmental educator for small children in some park programs,” she says. “ I liked teaching, and I learned that when you teach, you learn more yourself and it solidifies the knowledge that you do have even more.”
As a trainer and well-regarded employee, Lemieux advocated for other female job candidates, assuring her employer that she would train them to help get them started.
“When I talk to women, I tell them that if they clean houses, they can clean pools — and they might like it better,” she says.
Now with her own company, she is starting slowly, reporting about 10 accounts in November.
“I believe in starting off where you want to end up,” she says. “So it’s just gaining the correct accounts instead of just tackling anything and everything, and not ending up where you want to be. I’ve researched it and realized the best way to do it is to take the accounts that fit your core values and move forward that way.”
She plans to remain a single-person operation for the time being, maintaining a focus on service and maintenance. As one of her specialties, she plans to do start-ups for local builders.
“I just love pools, and I love the pool industry,” she says. “I love all the educational opportunities. I wonder constantly, are other industries like this? Do they have all these resources, are all these people this great in other industries? I hope so, because the pool industry has just been open-armed and welcoming for me.”
Lead Service Technician
North Charleston, S.C.
Pleatco’s Perfect Pool Guy also entered the pool/spa industry as part of a career change. But it wasn’t his first time here.
He actually began as a teenager in northwest Indiana, cleaning pools for the father of Heritage Pools’ current owner, Michael Gesmond. He mostly did pool openings and closings, along with liner replacements, while attending high school with the younger Gesmond.
Eventually Goss left and gained experienced in a number of fields. He worked in a casino for several years and ran a pawn shop. In his last position before relocating, he worked in a cardboard-box factory.
All this time, he and the younger Gesmond remained friends. So, when Goss and his wife decided to move to South Carolina three years ago, Gesmond offered him a job. Goss could decide whether this would be a long-term career change or just help transition his family through the relocation.
“I fell in love with pools all over again, and they loved me, so I’ve stayed on and just continued to progress and work through the company,” he says.
From his previous jobs, he had gained experience working in consumer-facing capacities or on production lines, for companies large and small. Those skills served him well here. And he appreciated the things that were different from previous positions.
“Being outside and working with my hands and [gaining] a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day has been a very nice change,” he says.
Goss began his second pool-industry go-round in maintenance, cleaning the pools. He has since progressed into service, performing repairs and other more involved tasks.
When the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in substantial turnover at Heritage, Goss had to learn quickly to help fill in the gaps. As a result, his progression through the company was sped up.
Despite his previous industry exposure, he still had a lot to learn upon re-entering. “The industry has definitely elevated quite a bit from 20 years ago,” he says. “The technology obviously is the big one.”
He learned quickly, taking advantage of any industry training programs his employers would afford him.
“In the file [my company] submitted for my nomination, they joke and call me the Manual King,” Goss says. “It’s because I had to learn so much, so quick, and didn’t really have someone to reach out to. If I was repairing or installing anything, I just downloaded the manual and read it. I still do it. Anything new I touch, basically, I just read the manual. It tells you everything you need to know.”
Now, because of all that gained expertise, Goss trains new service techs in the company.
“I love to share knowledge,” he says. “I love taking classes and coming back to work and sharing it with my colleagues.”
Goss plans to continue moving up the ranks with Heritage, in the hopes of taking a supervisory or managerial position.