|Nestled on the shore of Lake Huron, almost to the straits of Mackinac is Cheboygan, Michigan, home of Rivertown Spas, Pools and Billiards.
In 1994, Joe and Michelle Panik owned several businesses within the Cheboygan area, including a restaurant. Seeing an opportunity for a new business direction they decided to purchase a hot tub store. The Paniks sold their restaurant and opened Rivertown Spas, Pools and Billiards at 10402 N Straits Highway.
In addition to Rivertown, the Paniks own and operate Richendollars Stove and Fireplace. Joe knows that in a less populated area, such as Northern Michigan, offering diverse product lines is the key to success. “We have unique specialty items that we service and sell,” states Joe. “We’ve been a mainstay in Cheboygan for 23 years. That has to say something!”
While the 2008 economic climate was harsh, the Paniks’ businesses survived and came through stronger than before. “We stayed steady through the recession,” says Joe. “The thing is, we don’t floorplan our stock, we own everything. And, we are one of the few left standing!”
In Northern Michigan, weather plays a big factor in the business climate. From all indications, Panik feels that 2017 is going to be even stronger than last year for Rivertown Spas, Pools and Billiards. “If we can get Mother Nature to co-operate,” he says with a grin.
Another factor that has kept Rivertown Spas, Pools and Billiards strong is their work ethic. Panik knows that treating his customers with honesty and being responsive to their needs makes him a ‘go to’ business. “People talk” states Panik. “Word gets around fast in this area.” Going the extra mile for his customers has given Rivertown Spas, Pools and Billiards a solid reputation within the community.
Rusty Hendges, Sales Manager of the Great Lakes Region for Nordic Hot Tubs is pleased with Rivertown Spas, Pools and Billiards performance with Nordic. He states,“Joe and Michelle are wonderful people. They have a great business with a variety of products. They do very well for us in the Cheboygan area.”
Around 2003 Panik brought Nordic Hot Tubs into their product line up and he has been happy with that decision. “Nordic hot tubs are practical tubs. In my opinion, they are the best tub for the money” states Panik. “They don’t go crazy with frills…they’re just good, solid tubs.” Panik likes the fact that Nordic Hot Tubs are made in Michigan. He also states that Nordic is a ‘practical and personable’ company to work with. “Early on, Maurizio [owner of Nordic Hot Tubs] even stayed with us up here when he was on the road. We’re friends and that means a lot to us.”
Joe and Michelle have this advice for other dealers, “Stay steady, stay honest. People are savvy customers – they don’t fall for all the gimmicks.” With the longevity of their businesses in a small town, that model works extremely well for Rivertown Spas, Pools and Billiards.
To contact Joe, Michelle and the Rivertown Sales Team, follow this link to the website or, find them on Facebook.
A great Nordic Display at Rivertown Spas, Pools and Billiards.
A beautiful installation by
Rivertown Spas, Pools and Billiards.
|Nestled along the West Coast of Michigan, in one of the strategic fruit growing counties, is the town of Hart, home our Nordic Dealer Partner, Country Acres. Damon VanderZanden, purchased Country Acres from the original owner, Pat DeWitt, around 14 years ago. “I was a golf course superintendent and wanted to get into something different and little more stable” states VanderZanden. “We owned the Laundromat next door and when we heard Pat was going to retire, we decided to purchase the hot tub store!” he says with a grin.
In summer, Oceana County bustles with activity as fruit season peaks and tourists flock to the State Park Sand Dune area just west of Hart. Winters have been milder and the snowmobiling season has dwindled over the last decade. As a business owner in a seasonal area, VanderZanden knows diversifying is the key to success. In addition to the Laundromat and Country Acres, VanderZanden also runs a carpet cleaning business. “But we’re getting out of the snowmobile parts and clothing,” he adds. “It was a good run but we are moving on.”
Customer satisfaction is also very important in a smaller community. “What sets us apart is our service,” says VanderZanden. “One of the best marketing tools for us is word of mouth. We get a ton of referrals each year not just for hot tubs but pool maintenance as well. We have a very good name for ourselves.”
VanderZanden has had his challenges, especially in the Michigan economic climate. However, the biggest obstacle he feels he’s overcome is finding the right mix of employees for his businesses. Currently, Country Acres has 3 employees. “We have a great staff right now,” states VanderZanden. “Everyone is happy. I do the all the service and I have a good sales staff! We’ve found the best mix!”
Rusty Hendges, Nordic’s Regional Sales Manager for the Great Lakes Territory, is happy to have VanderZanden and Country Acres in his territory. Hendges states, “Country Acres has great growth potential!” He goes on to add, “Damon just does good, solid business! He’s a man of few words and is very unassuming but is an honest businessman.”
Country Acres has been a Nordic Dealer Partner since 2003 and VanderZanden has seen steady growth since then. He is looking forward to ending 2017 in an even stronger position than 2016. “We are seeing a lot of customers coming back from a few years ago,” he states. “They like the fact that Nordic Hot Tubs are simple, not too many bells and whistles. We love that they are constructed well, look great and are at a great price point!” On VanderZanden’s ‘To-Do’ list for 2017 is to get connected social media and a website. “I think my kids can help me with that,” he quips.
VanderZanden has this advice for other dealers, “Customer relations are so important! If you do a good job, people respect that and appreciate it.”
Country Acres can be reached through the website or by phone at 231-873-5009.
|South East Spas has created backyard oases in southeast Florida for over 40 years. Founded by Phil Giles, South East Spas is a family owned pool and spa business that has a great reputation for delivering quality products and service to its customers.
What makes South East Spas stand out from the competition? According to Steve Sharp, Sales Manager, it is that they are strategically placed in an area of need. “We also run aggressive off-site sales events,” states Sharp. “We are open 7 days a week to help our customers. Add to that, we are a full service retailer with a warehouse, delivery and service personnel. Three of our staff members have over 50 years in the industry; others have over 22 years in.”
It’s this longevity in the industry that has made the difference with South East’s customer service as well. Sharp indicates that the staff goes through extensive training to become certified pool and spa professionals. “Our more experienced employees also help mentor the younger ones,” states Sharp.
In addition to hot tubs, South East Spas offers a full line of grills, swim spas, exercise spas and saunas. “We also carry a full product line of chemicals and gadgets to go with the pools and spas,” says Sharp.
Sharp indicates that South East has seen the good times and the lean times in the industry. The economic climate has a great effect on how well their business fares. “I would have to say though, that the biggest obstacle is maintaining great customer service,” states Sharp. “Getting quality customer service people to support our customers can be tricky.” He quickly adds, “We’ve got a good group now though.”
2017 is going to be a year South East Spas continues its growth pattern. “We are looking forward to exceeding last year with both sales and profit with the products we sell,” says Sharp.
South East Spas has been a Nordic Dealer Partner since 2013. Sharp is very pleased with the way Nordic Hot Tubs complements the other product lines South East Spas offers and with the reputation they have in the field. “Nordic’s are durable, simple to operate and very reliable,” he says. “From a company standpoint, Nordic is easy to do business with.”
Sharp offers this advice to other dealers, “Don’t be afraid to grow and be aggressive. It’s always better to have the customer buy from you than from the competition.”
The South East Sales Team can be reached through the website and on Twitter. Also, follow them on Twitter! Instagram is coming soon!
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