Casual conversation leads coworkers to purchase California pool company
Photos by Wendy Stewart
Adam Litke and Loren Cohodes got their start in the pool industry in different ways. Litke’s father, who was a high school principal, made him find a summer job when his biology grade wasn’t up to his standards. Litke made a good impression at the company, All Seasons Pools & Spas; the owner kept him on after the summer gig was over.
Cohodes started at a spa cover manufacturer. His now wife was working at a pool company, Forest Pools, and got him hired there as well.
Eventually, Litke and Cohodes became coworkers at All Seasons. Both worked their way up, with Cohodes becoming general manager. One day, he helped Litke finish his route so they could go on the company camping trip.
“We were just talking about things we would do different if we were the owner,” Litke says. “How we would like to see things change and progress and evolve. In a joking way, I don’t know who said it, but it was said, ‘What if we bought it?’ We just laughed it off.”
But the joke planted a seed. They casually tossed the idea out to the current owner, who wasn’t looking to sell.
“He knew Loren and I were both at the position in our lives, and also with the company, where we either needed to go out on our own individually, start our own business together or buy him out,” Litke says. “About a week later, he came back and said, ‘If you guys are serious, this is what I would want.’ It gave us a goal to start reaching and see what steps it would take.”
With help from family, friends and even customers, the two bought All Seasons in February 2015. Since both were already ingrained in the operations and books, it was a pretty seamless transition. Now they could start implementing ideas from that first conversation on Litke’s service route.
“One of the first things we talked about [was showing] appreciation to our employees; let’s make sure they know that we appreciate their hard work and that they love working for us,” Cohodes says. “Obviously, your employees are your biggest assets. If you don’t have good employees who are happy, they won’t work hard, they won’t perform for you.”
The company had been growing steadily before the pair took ownership, acquiring two other businesses and adding locations. In September of this year, they opened a sixth retail store with an eye to open more.
“I love opening new stores,” Cohodes says. “I think it’s fun. Where there’s a lot of mom-and-pop retail stores that are going out of business, I love being able to say, ‘Hey, we’re expanding. We’re opening stores.’ For me, that’s super exciting.”
They have almost 40 employees — double the staff of five years ago.
“We’re at nearly 700 accounts now,” Litke says. “In two, three, four years, I want to be at 1,000. I want to be right next to the guys in the Sacramento area that have 1,500 or 2,000 accounts. I want them to talk about us at their employee meetings and say, ‘Hey, All Seasons is moving up. What are we going to do to compete with them?’ ”