Each month, we enjoy learning more about a member of the Thursday Pools dealer family for our dealer spotlight. In November, we chatted with Chris Matthews, president of Easy Living Pools, which sells and installs both vinyl liner pools and inground fiberglass pools in Plain City, Ohio.
Easy Living Pools is located in Union County, Ohio and serves the central Ohio region, including the areas in and around: Columbus, Bellefontaine, Springfield, Marysville, Delaware, Granville and Marion, Ohio.
Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
Our company, Builderscape was founded by my father Ron Matthews in 2003. We built our business on design/build commercial construction. I joined the company full-time when I graduated from college. My dad dabbled in the pool business on and off over the years but was frustrated by the unreliability of suppliers. But the pool business has changed a lot over the last 20 to 30 years. We dipped our toes in the water again about ten years ago. We were selling just a couple of pools per year. Pretty soon, we realized we needed to have the word “pools” in our name if we wanted to really penetrate the market. So we created a division of our company called Easy Living Pools. We started out selling vinyl liner pools, but around 2014, a guy named Gene Foster with Thursday Pools knocked on our door and told us we needed to sell Thursday Pools fiberglass pools. He was right. We did.
At this point, pools make up about 40 percent of Builderscape’s overall business. We do up to 50 pools in a year in our current market. Our pool business nearly tripled from 2017 to this year, and 2019 is going to be a record year. Another 40 percent of our business is commercial general contracting, with landscaping and snow removal comprising the rest.
My dad is in the process of phasing out his role so that he can retire. In fact, he just moved his desk out! He’s not here on a daily basis anymore, so my role is changing.
What do you love about being in the pool business?
Pools are a place where families can be together for so many years, generation after generation. When we sell a pool, we’re selling memories. Not many other products can do that.
What fiberglass pool designs and colors are the most popular among pool buyers in the central Indiana area?
Like many other Thursday Pools dealers, our two biggest sellers are the Aspen and Lil Bob designs. We’re buying Lil Bobs by the truckload. Around here at least, the homes are getting bigger, but the lots are getting smaller and easements are plentiful, so it’s good to have a range of sizes available. Maya is our biggest seller in terms of color, followed closely by California.
What are the most popular add-on features in the fiberglass pools you’re installing right now?
This is definitely auto-cover country. Personally, I wouldn’t have a pool without one. So almost all the pools we sell are auto-cover ready. People will stretch their budgets to get one. Our customers also really like water features, like deck jets.
What do you think about Thursday Pools’ new beach entry fiberglass pool designs?
They’re interesting, for sure. They require a lot more space than a standard entry pool, so folks with smaller lots won’t be able to have them, but people with larger lots might try one.
What particular challenges do you face with fiberglass pool installations in your part of Ohio?
We’ve got good dirt here with a few areas that require rock excavation. Tight access on smaller lots is our biggest challenge. Also, we’re heavy on permits and inspections here, within the city limits at least. You have to be a licensed general contractor to pull permits. Some want gas and electrical calculations, so we typically handle all of that for our inground pool customers.
What’s the cost of an average pool installation for you?
An average installation for us is about $75,000. We do almost everything in-house, including fencing. The only thing we subcontract is the concrete.
What trends have you seen emerge lately in the inground fiberglass pool industry?
People want ideas. They want a full-scale outdoor living environments–an entertainment space. So we’re installing pavilions, some outdoor kitchens and even putting greens with synthetic turf to round out the area surrounding the inground fiberglass pools we build.
What have you noticed changing in pool buyers’ demographics over the years?
Our buyers continue to get younger. Our demographic is between 30 and 45 years old. They’re not afraid to finance, so we’ve teamed up with lenders to make it easier for them. In their minds, it’s just like having a car payment.
What works for you in terms of marketing?
We don’t even have a sign on our building. We work through word of mouth referrals.
What are your thoughts on Thursday Pools?
Thursday Pools’ marketing is top notch. Their brochures are beautiful, and their website is fantastic. They’re setting the bar, and other pool companies are working to catch up. I also like the fact that Bill and Ed don’t hide behind their customer service staff. If you need them, they’re there.
What else would you like to see from Thursday Pools in terms of dealer support?
Although Thursday Pools has some of the fastest turnaround times in the fiberglass pool industry, we’re in the Amazon Prime era. So I’d like to see a way to have pools ready to order. People don’t want to wait for their pools.
What’s the secret to Easy Living Pool’s success?
We are a full-service design/build firm, from concept to 3D design to completion. We have a landscape architect on staff. We have a design center, and our customers come to us first, just like they would if they were building a home or buying a car. Our team is top notch, and we’ve built a reputation over the years. All of these things set us apart from our competition.
Also, we’re continually reinvesting in our business. We bought a semi so we could control the timing of our pool deliveries. We have 15 acres of storage so we can keep an inventory of 30 to 40 pools on hand. People like to sit in a pool shell to get a feel for how big it is. We’ll continue to grow to the demand. We’re not afraid to grow.
Easy Living Pools is a division of Builderscape, Inc. in Plain City, Ohio. Located in Plain City, Ohio, Easy Living Pools sells and installs vinyl liner and inground fiberglass pools throughout Union County and central Ohio. They specialize in full-service inground swimming pool installations, including fencing and landscaping.
Located in central Indiana, Thursday Pools manufactures the highest quality inground fiberglass pools. They are leaders in innovation in the fiberglass pool industry and are the creators of the world’s first beach entry (zero entry) fiberglass pool.