Matt Kochan, Great Valley Pool Service
Matt Kochan, Great Valley Pool Service

When siblings Tracy and Cecil Bond took over Great Valley Pool Service in Frazer, Pa., approximately eight years ago, they also got Matt Kochan with the business.

Time proved that he wasn’t just another employee — he was the nucleus of the operation, the caretaker who made sure the company stayed strong and its employees happy.

“When we first took over the business, we had to make it his objective not to work as many hours as he did, because you need a life outside the pool business,” recalls Cecil Bond. “But he made the pool business his life.”

But his contributions amount to more than hours worked, says Tracy Bond, who calls him the “consummate multitasker” and “the glue that holds this company together.”

Walking encyclopedia

Kochan has been working at Great Valley Pool Service for 26 years, since the time it was managed by the previous owners.

Currently, he is service manager of the recurring service division, spending his days in front of multiple computer monitors, managing calendars. He schedules 450 weekly and biweekly service customers, 1,200 pool openings, and 1,600 pool closings.

He has a “keen awareness of all 450 of his service pools, many of which he serviced himself when he first started as a service tech with the company,” says Tracy Bond.

He even knows what equipment and plumbing set-ups local builders tend to use, which helps him guide techs in servicing individual pools. “As long as I know who built the pool I can just access the file stuck in my head and give them the guidance/info they need,” Kochan says.

He joined the company in the mid-1990s, after he graduated high school, started college, and tried to figure out what he wanted to do. A friend from high school introduced him to her parents, who owned the company, and he began working with them over the summer.

“I liked it so much — the office is outdoors, every day is different and challenging, and I was seeing beautiful pools and houses,” he remembers. “I was hooked from there.”

He began as a helper in the two-man crew with a technician, serving about 35 customers. By his third year, he went to the owners and asked to take on the recurring service portion of the business — scheduling and running it. The 1990s were a hot time for the industry, so he was in the right place at the right time, with the right attitude. “It just took off from there,” he says. “After so many years, 30-some pools turned into 400-some pools.”

Even during the most hectic times, such as the historic demand brought on by the pandemic combined with a chronic labor shortage, Kochan has always been there to help guide the company through.

“Scheduling is a full-time job, yet he spends a large portion of his day on the phone with our recurring service technicians coaching, mentoring and helping them to troubleshoot issues encountered out in the field,” Tracy Bond says. “When we are short-staffed, he is willing to roll up his sleeves and spend days in the field ... and still comes back to the office to do his scheduling work.”

Macro meets micro

When asked about his dedication to go above and beyond expectations, Kochan just chuckles and, in his humility, attributes it to a short commute. But his employers and coworkers know better. He does admit that he truly enjoys helping those around him continually grow in their jobs.

“I take a lot of satisfaction in helping everybody learn, giving as much information as possible, and helping them through their problems [so] they keep growing themselves,” he says.

A few years back, the company underwent an entire technological upgrade to make it paperless, and Kochan was on board with the changes and learning curve. All of the technicians operate on mobile technology, using tablets on-site and uploading information and photos in real-time. Kochan was instrumental in helping the technicians learn the software and understand the importance and benefits of it.

But he doesn’t take credit. He calls the daily work a “multiple-headed monster” in which everyone chips in.

Cecil Bond says that Kochan thinks of everything, big and small. “The guys — before they come to me, they go through him first,” he says.

Kochan advocates for the other employees and constantly comes up with ideas to boost morale. “He really is the heart of our operation,” Cecil Bond says.