Celebratory Dinner with fellow Pool Professionals: A Pool Girl’s Perspective

Atlantic City Thurs. 1/30/14

Karen, concrete artisan and Sandi, Coordinator of Everything
Karen, concrete artisan and Sandi, Coordinator of Everything

It is Thursday morning in Atlantic City, and while more walking around the expo is still ahead, the four of us are still on a natural high from last night. We were invited to a dinner hosted by, we thought, Kafko Manufacturing, the company that supplies our vinyl liners; instead it was hosted by Latham Industries, the parent company that had bought Kakfo in 2002. We were surprised to discover the small dinner, comprised of about thirty to forty people, we thought we were attending had expanded to over one hundred and seven. We weren’t sure we really wanted to stay. The dinner was held in an Italian restaurant, and was going to be four or five courses. Al and Sandi had attended last year’s Kafko dinner and knew what we were in for food wise, neither were sure they wanted such a heavy, extensive dinner. And the only person we really knew well, Jorge, our Kafko rep, wasn’t going to be there. So we went in thinking to spend a few minutes, before possibly taking off for lighter fare.

We sat down at a table off to the side, thinking it would be easier to slip out from there, when who should ask to sit down with us but Mark Laven, the CEO of Latham Industries. Under Mark, Latham Industries has acquired not just Kafko, but Triac Pool Products, Fort Wayne Pools, Viking Pools which also owns Blue Hawaiian Pools and Trilogy Pools, and Coverstar Automatic Covers. Latham is an international company and a leading force in the swimming pool industry. Al and Sandi had met Mark briefly before, visiting the Latham booth at previous expos. When one of our pools won a national award for design, he sent us a note of congratulations.

Al likes to describe our company as a small boutique company; we don’t want to build quantity, look alike pools, we want to build quality, creative pools. Most companies at this dinner proudly claim to build, on average, anywhere from fifty to one hundred pools a year, some do more. We happily do four to seven a year; we don’t want to do more, because the pools we choose to do are involved, creative, and unique to the customers we work for.

So why is the CEO of an industry leading company asking to sit down, not next to us, but with us for dinner? Who knows, but we don’t care, our plans to escape early go out the window, and for the next two and a half hours we have the ear of a powerful man, who turns out to be down to earth, interesting, and interested in our approach to pool building. Al and Sandi also talked with him about a mutual appreciation for Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, the effect of social media on the pool industry, and many other topics not having to do with the pool industry. Not having their gift of gab, I sat back and listened to Al and Sandi make an impression upon a man huge in the industry we are working hard to make our mark in. Having Mark Laven recognize and be interested in us not just on a pool level, but an individual level, is an enormous step toward achieving our goals.

-A post from Karen’s Perspective, Karen is the Tile/Coping Specialist and Concrete Artisan with Ask the Pool Guy’s Legendary Escapes

Mark Al
Matthew Dyer, a pool guy from Virginia, Mark, our lead service Tech and Al, The Pool Guy
Al Mark Sandi
Al, Mark, and Sandi