“Sometimes I feel I must double-prove myself,” says Nancy Dozier, co-owner/operator, ASP of Lake Oconee, Ga. Local homeowners have been known to react to the female pool service tech with “Are you kidding me?” So Dozier is determined to win over the skeptics.

It’s been a challenge, to be sure. The former nurse had to learn not only an entirely new set of job skills, but also overturn the reputation of the previous owner of her franchise. “That’s been one of the most difficult challenges,” she says. Nancy and husband Doug even put their photos in ads and, she says, “Just when you think you’ve succeeded, someone will say, ‘Hey, aren’t you …?’ ‘No!’”

The journey

To get to where she is now, we have to understand where she came from. For 15 years, Dozier was a Registered Nurse, handling everything from emergency room work to heading up the occupational nursing division at a chemical company. Then her career path took a sharp turn. Her first child was born with autism, and in following years Dozier developed Woodfield Academy in Macon, Ga., which helps children with learning differences or developmental disorders. After 10 years, Dozier, who has a master’s degree in counseling, opened her own practice.

Then came another career turn. Last year, Doug, who sold orthopedic implants, lost his job of 30 years and was replaced by a younger salesperson.

Overnight, their world had changed.

Doug had wanted to retire to Lake Oconee someday, so they moved retirement up a few years and Nancy took a sabbatical from counseling. “It was scary. We were looking around, thinking, praying, trying not to panic,” she says. They put their house up for sale and she decided to send an e-mail to family friend Stewart Vernon, founder of America’s Swimming Pool Co., to see if any ASP franchises were available in Georgia. There was one in Lake Oconee — and the Doziers were off on a new chapter in their lives.

It’s been a huge learning curve, Nancy says. “I don’t think people realize how much you need to know to be in this industry — Business 101, pool chemistry, sales and marketing.” Now she and Doug employ three servicepeople, and have carved a niche for themselves in Lake Oconee.

To other women considering a similar career move, she suggests shadowing someone on a route — another woman, if possible. “See what it’s really like,” Dozier says. “Do they really want to do this? You wear so many hats.”