Mesa man lands 1st AZ branch of Ga. pool firm

by Maria Polletta

From building up his own pest-control company and upping membership at a women’s gym to dramatically increasing billings at a paramedical company, Mesa native Clint Rowley has a reputation for turning businesses around.

Now, the 34-year-old entrepreneur is turning his sights to the pool industry, becoming America’s Swimming Pool Co.’s first Arizona franchisee at 950 E. Brown Road.

Rowley said he decided to contact the national pool-maintenance, renovation and repair company after encountering hundreds of neglected pools as the owner of Real Property Management, which oversees about 1,400 properties in the Valley.

“We were getting calls from tenants saying, ‘Our pool is green, our pool guy doesn’t show up,’ ” he said. “It’s a very fragmented market. There are lots of pool vendors or companies that are small and can clean a pool, but they don’t really know what they’re really doing in terms of the management or business side. We were throwing them more work than they could handle.”

Georgia-based America’s Swimming Pool Co. hadn’t originally planned on expanding to Arizona, despite dramatic growth in more than 175 U.S. cities since its founding in 2001, according to CEO Stewart Vernon.

“It was a little west of where we wanted to expand,” he said. “But Clint was beyond qualified, and we knew he’d be wildly successful being from Mesa, being a business owner and having those contacts. His premise was that he was already dealing with swimming-pool contractors on a regular basis and felt he could provide a higher level of service.”

The number of Arizona pools hurting for year-round maintenance further convinced Vernon.

“Before we expand into a market, we look at the demographic data, but most importantly, we have the swimming-pool data — how many pools there are, who owns them, where exactly they are,” Vernon said. “Arizona is one of the largest swimming-pool-count states in the country, so we thought it would be a good fit.”

Arizona, Florida, California and Texas are home to nearly half the pools in the U.S., he said.

Rowley admits he was initially ignorant about the details of what running a pool company would entail. He caught up through a combination of self-driven research and instructive trips to other markets, he said.

“Arizona’s a dramatically different market than the East Coast. We don’t close in the wintertime,” he said. “Year-round pool maintenance is just different versus a six-month or eight-month season where the rest of the time (pools) are literally frozen.

“We also have some challenges that we have to deal with here with the dust and the dirt that settles. Maintenance is a little more dynamic,” he said.

Rowley said his first goal is to make the Mesa location profitable, eventually expanding the facility to create a retail front before establishing other branches throughout the state.

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