Every month, we chat with Thursday Pools dealers to learn more about their business and what’s trending in their area. This month, we talked to Doug Thoele, owner of W.E.T. Pools and Spas in Effingham, Illinois.
Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
We were originally in the pressure washer business. I started the company with a couple of partners in 1996. When the economy went south, around 1999, we switched gears. We had named the company Water Equipment Technologies (W.E.T.) so that we could go in more than one direction with the business if we needed to. It seemed at that time like there weren’t too many pool and spa companies around here, so we thought we’d work our way into that market. It turned out pretty well. And now, as far as the ownership goes, it’s just me.
What geographic areas do you serve?
We serve most of southern Illinois, and we’ll go as far as 75-100 miles away. Our primary service areas for fiberglass pool installations are Effingham, Charleston, Marshall, Mattoon, Shelbyville and Vandalia, Illinois.
What do you love about being in the pool business?
I like that it’s seasonal, and I like to work outside. We started out as a service business, and that’s what we still are. I wouldn’t have it any other way. We have great customers and that makes my job really easy.
What Thursday Pools fiberglass pool designs and colors are the most popular among pool buyers in the areas you serve?
Our biggest seller is the Lil Bob. We also sell a lot of Goliaths and Aspens. Automatic pool covers are pretty much standard around here, so we like pools that are auto-cover ready. We work with APC (Automatic Pool Covers), and we like them a lot. Most of our customers have pretty big lots, so they have room for deep and large fiberglass pools. We sell lots of 16 x 40s. California is by far our most popular color.
What are the most popular add-on features in the fiberglass pools you’re installing right now?
We do lots of salt systems and lighting packages—also, deck jets, some waterfalls and a fair amount of slides. We don’t do any diving boards.
What do you think about Thursday Pools’ new beach entry designs?
We’ve been watching the new beach entry designs, Grace and Sandal. We haven’t had any hits on them yet. I’m curious as to how the automatic pool covers are going to work with them, and I’m looking forward to learning more about them at the Dealer Conference next month.
What particular challenges do you face with fiberglass pool installations in your part of Indiana?
We’re pretty fortunate there—no complaints. We don’t have rocky soil, and most of our customers have pretty wide open access. So I guess we’re lucky compared to some.
What’s the cost of an average inground pool installation for you?
Our average inground fiberglass pool installation is around $45,000. That includes excavation, the pool itself, LED lighting, an automatic pool safety cover and the electrical work. We don’t do concrete or landscaping. We do about 18 inground fiberglass pool installations per year and around 25 vinyl liners.
What trends have you seen emerge lately in the inground fiberglass pool industry?
I’ve used Thursday Pools’ Backfill Eliminator®. I think it works pretty well. We use the Lucky 7 Skimmer® on every pool we install. It’s saved us a ton of trouble. It makes the skimmers so much easier to install, and they work better too.
What have you noticed changing in pool buyers’ demographics over the years?
Pool buyers are getting younger, I think. Our typical customers are families where both Mom and Dad work. They’re in the 35 to 45 year-old range. They buy a new house, and then put in a pool.
What works for you in terms of marketing?
We don’t do any marketing! We have enough to do! Seriously, it’s hard to find good workers, so we keep our business to what we can handle with the staff we have. If you can find a company that manufactures hard workers, let me know.
What are your thoughts on Thursday Pools?
Thursday Pools is a top-notch company. They do things right. Their pools are easy to install because their dig specs are just dead-on. When you excavate for one of their pools, you know it’s going to fit. I’ve had other companies where the specs are off, or the pools are lower quality. Thursday Pools makes a really high quality product.
Another great thing is their literature and marketing materials. This has traditionally been “Vinyl Liner Country” around here. It was hard to get customers to understand the benefits of fiberglass pools for a while. Thursday Pools gave us lots of good literature to help us show people the benefits of fiberglass pools over other types of pools.
I also like the fact that I can always talk to them. They always have time. They’re just good people.
What’s the secret to W.E.T. Pool and Spa’s success?
Well, like I said before, we’re in the service business. I don’t like being in the spotlight because it’s not about us. It’s about our customers. We place a high emphasis on education and helping our customers get the most out of their pools. One of the things that’s been really successful for us is our Pool School, which we offer through our retail store every year in April. We offer our customers education on water chemistry and testing and pool maintenance in general and usually have at least 80 people attend.
Other than that, when it comes to installations, we just try not to take risks. It’s important to me that we do things right, the first time.
Thursday Pools designs and manufactures the world’s most durable and innovative fiberglass pool shells in Fortville, Indiana. We are ISO 9001 certified, which means that fiberglass pool shells are made with the highest standards and from the best quality material available. We are also ISO 14001 certified, which means we are committed to environmental stewardship. Thursday Pools is the creator of the world’s first beach entry (or zero entry) fiberglass pool. Get a free estimate on the fiberglass pool of your dreams today. With Thursday Pools, your weekend starts early!