|Viscount Pools, with locations in Madison Heights and Imlay City, Michigan is celebrating their 50th Anniversary!
Bob Zacharski, owner of Viscount Pools East, tells the story of how he got started in the pool and spa industry. “It was 1973 and I was in my second year of college. My brother was working in the pool industry and they needed another above ground pool installer. So, naturally he called me and I’ve been here ever since!”
Viscount Pools displays over 40 hot tubs and numerous pools between the two stores. The 20k sq. ft. Madison Heights location is evenly divided between showroom and warehouse space while the 14k sq. ft. Imlay City store is completely showroom. “Having a well-stocked warehouse allows us to be fully responsive to customers’ needs and delivery timeframes.” states Zacharski.
Thirty five years ago, Viscount sold its first hot tub and Zacharski remembers it clearly. “It was a round tub with 4 jets and a ¾ horsepower pump,” he laughs. “It sure was an exciting time back then because it was fun!”
Since that time the hot tub industry has grown exponentially and Zacharski is happy to have been a part of it. “I’ve seen it all and done it all in this industry,” he claims. “We even built our own hot tubs out of 4 Quonset huts in South Lyon, Michigan for a while.” The time he spent in manufacturing taught Zacharski a number of life lessons as he states, “I learned how to first of all be a human being, then a retailer and a businessman.”
The thing Zacharski feels gives Viscount Pools an edge over the competition is experience. He states, “We have over 100 years’ experience between us and we are experts in our field!” The operating philosophy under which he runs Viscount Pools is a combination of four aspects of retailing. “First, is know the product! Keep a good stock of replacement parts, solve problems and get referrals.” Zacharski states emphatically, “Without the referral aspect, we’d be a whole lot less than what we are now!”
Zacharski feels the biggest obstacle Viscount Pools faces is due to industry issues, both external and internal. He believes the current largest issue for any brick and mortar retailer is the internet. “Internet shoppers can purchase without ever talking to a salesperson. This creates a completely different retail climate in which it’s harder to build the trust relationship with customers,” he states.
The second obstacle Zacharski sees is within the pool and spa industry itself. “We have never hit the pinnacle of professionalism as an industry,” he says with disappointment. “And we’ve not made hot tubs affordable for all Americans. We have the resources to do that but the industry, as a whole, went the other way!”
However, he is very optimistic for 2017 as he states, “The Michigan economy is on fire!” Because of the current strength in the retail sector, he knows his hot tub sales will stay strong and he is counting on good weather to keep his pool installations on track.
Viscount Pools added Nordic Hot Tubs to its showroom due to Zacharski’s friendship with Nordic’s owner, Maurizio Vozza. “Maurizio is my best friend in the industry, “states Zacharski. “His leadership has fostered an environment where you [Nordic] produce a great product, have great service and all at a great pricing level.” Zacharski says he is confident that when he gets answers from Nordic, the answers are honest. “Your company and products make our job 1000% easier,” Zacharski says with a laugh. “Nordic is just comfortable to work with.”
Zacharski offers this advice for other dealers when he states, “Everything about life is about relationship. Take care to build the relationships!”
Bob Zacharski and the Viscount Sales Team can be reached through the website or find them on Facebook.
A view of Viscount Pools showroom in
Madison Hts, Michigan.
Viscount Pools located at
1843 Cedar St, Imlay City, Michigan.
A view of Viscount Pools showroom
in Imlay City, Michigan.
|Cozy Cabin Rustics is one of those 'American Dream' success stories.
Thirteen years ago, Arthur Card began selling locally handmade, rustic furniture in and around the Plymouth, New Hampshire area. The fact that he didn’t have a permanent location did not deter him from his vision. The products he sold were niche market products and he was very successful selling from trailers, out of storage containers and at art and craft fairs.
In 2004, he purchased the vacant Sears building located at 742 Tenney Mountain Highway in Plymouth, New Hampshire, settled down and opened shop. Seven years later he opened a 2nd location in Meredith, New Hampshire. Then, in 2015 he opened a 3rd location in Tilton but is in the process of consolidating that into his newest store, acquired January 2017, in Lincoln, New Hampshire.
John Cameron, General Manager of Cozy Cabin Rustics, enjoys selling to a niche market. He states, “What I like most about Cozy Cabin Rustics is that we sell full-fledged into our market. It’s all handmade and…well…rustic!” The 80 artisans they represent make hand-crafted, unique one-of-a-kind furniture and art. He feels Nordic Hot Tubs fit well in that niche with its product simplicity, quality and reliability.
So, how did Cozy Cabin Rustics begin selling hot tubs? According to Cameron, he came up with the idea of carrying Nordic Hot Tubs because he wanted a hot tub for his personal use. He then pitched the idea to Arthur Card. “I’m one of those researcher people,” states Cameron. “I did the research, liked what Nordic had to offer and Arthur gave the ok!” It was late fall of 2016 when they took their first delivery of Nordic Hot Tubs.
One of the biggest challenges Cozy Cabin Rustics faced has been the transition from selling out of trailers into selling from permanent showrooms. The logistics and mind-set is different from being mobile to becoming stationary. However, Cameron and Card have found that multiple locations work well for their business. “We currently have 4 locations but are in the process of closing the Tilton location because we opened the Lincoln store in January of this year,” says Cameron. “We should be completely moved in June.”
The current year has already proven to be a great sales year and Cameron anticipates the trend continuing. “We have a strong product line at present,” he states. “In fact we are selling hot tubs before we can even get the displays set up! We’ve put out the signs and have already sold the inventory!”
As Cameron was researching hot tub lines to bring into the stores, what impressed him about Nordic Hot Tubs was the simplicity and energy efficiency. “I was looking for hot tubs specifically manufactured for colder climates and Nordic stood out.” He relates this story about his own Nordic Hot Tub, “This past winter our power was out for 3 days! And it was cold! When the power came back on, I lifted the lid on my tub and it was still at 84°! After 3 DAYS!” That was proof enough for Cameron as he says, “I’m sold on it!”
Cameron offers this advice to other Nordic Dealers, “It’s a lot easier if you own the product. You aren’t really selling; you’re telling your story based on your experience with the product. It’s not just a sales pitch then.”
Cozy Cabin Rustics will be hosting a Nordic Truckload Sale from Friday, June 2 through Sunday, June 5, 2017at the Plymouth, New Hampshire location. Join Card, Cameron and Cozy Cabin Rustics’ Sales Team for some great deals on Nordic Hot Tubs!
Cozy Cabin Rustics can be contacted through the website or find them on Facebook!
|Tim and Catherine Love opened the Pool and Spa Connection at 8705 Asheville Highway in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1995. Twenty two years later, they have 18 employees and a second store located in Greenville (Simpsonville) at 108 Batesville Road.
The Loves have been in the pool and spa industry for many years. When Tim was in college, he started building pools, learning the trade from the ground up. In 1995, as Catherine states, “Tim got the itch to start his own business and here we are!” The Loves have that perfect blend of skill sets as husband and wife business owners. Catherine’s background is in finance and manages the retail and business portion of the company while Tim handles outside sales and construction.
In addition to hot tubs, Pool and Spa Connection builds in-ground pools, is a Bio Guard chemical dealer and carries Big Green Egg outdoor grills. They also repair and renovate pools, sometimes even filling them in! “We take care of pools from birth to death,” says Catherine with a smile. “About the only thing we don’t do is above ground pools!” she adds.
Catherine feels that what sets The Pool and Spa Connection apart is their service. She states, “We service what we sell of course, but we are knowledgeable about all brands.” They have a dedicated, in-house service department which Love says makes them more responsive to the customers’ needs. “A product warranty is only as good as the people who sold you the product,” she says. “We are not like some other businesses out there who offer a ‘Tail Light Warranty’…you know…when the warranty lasts only as long as you can see their taillights!”
Being in business for twenty two years, the Loves have seen the market cycle up and down. 2008 stands out for Catherine as a year they ‘weathered’, survived and came out stronger. “It was rough but we made it,” she states. She feels the survival of the Pool and Spa Connection is attributable to being willing to do what it takes. “We have a great staff here and they are willing to go the extra mile,” she says proudly.
Another challenge was expanding and opening the 2nd store in Greenville. “We’re too big to be small but too small to be big,” Love laughs. To make it work she and their staff ‘wear a lot of hats’ but keep it all about the customers. “We can’t do it without the customers and we can’t do it without the employees,” she states.
This year is proving to be a good year for the Pool and Spa Connection. The pool season is busy and the Loves wouldn’t want it any other way. “We’re going to meet and exceed last year’s sales,” says Catherine. Although they are on track to make this a record sales year, Catherine’s goal is to also keep everyone safe.
The Loves added Nordic Hot Tubs to their product line in 2010 and Catherine is very happy with the results. “I like their reliability and that they are closer to us here on the East Coast than other manufacturers,” she states.
Catherine has this advice for other Nordic Dealers, “Stick to the Nordic story! Talk about Simple, Therapeutic, Affordable and Reliable.” However, Catherine feels the most important thing is to be honest, sincere and have personal integrity.
Join Tim, Catherine and the Pool and Spa Connection Sales Team as they host a Nordic Truckload Sale this Thursday, May 25 through Saturday, May 27.
Contact Pool and Spa Connection through the website or find them on Facebook.
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