Long Island husband-and-wife team celebrates Perfect Pool Gal award
Photography by Josh Goetz
When Jennifer Del Vaglio was working as a lifeguard at a country club, she never dreamed it might turn into a pool career. She did, however, meet her husband CJ there, who ended up being the true catalyst.
The couple was working in Connecticut — Jennifer as an event planner at Deloitte and CJ as an accountant. CJ would talk about wanting to get away from his desk job and own a pool business, but she didn’t realize how serious he was.
“I kind of just listened,” Del Vaglio says. CJ took her to Long Island, New York, for a weekend getaway in 2006, and while they were admiring the beach, he dropped it on her.
“ ‘Well, I just bought a pool business, so I need your help,’ ” she remembershim saying.
She helped part-time on the weekends, commuting from Connecticut; when the recession hit, she was laid off from her event planning job and made the move to Long Island. At first she was in the store answering phones, but gradually she found herself out in the field with CJ. “I was an apprentice for him,” she says, “and started picking things up. All of a sudden I had my own pool route, and I was doing 14 to 15 pools a day.” They were married in 2010.
For someone who didn’t consider herself mechanically inclined, Del Vaglio does it all now. A truncated version of her responsibilities at the business includes vehicle maintenance; inventory for the store, services routes and pool builds; ordering; sales; and a weekly pool route. When the company is working on a build, she’s right there, too. “I’m with the guys putting [pools] together, shoveling, pouring the concrete, putting up the walls, dropping the liners, troweling the floors and then I do some of the plumbing too,” she says.
“It’s just so much fun,” Del Vaglio says. “It’s liberating — you’re out there making people happy every stop that you make. It’s very rewarding.”
Her hard work was recognized when she became the 2016 Pleatco Perfect Pool Gal, having been nominated by CJ. “We all work really hard in the pool industry, so it’s nice for somebody like us to be recognized,” Del Vaglio says. The company has received an outpouring of support from their community, competitors and peers, she says.
The couple is ready to take the next step in their business growth: Now that they’re doing more pool builds/renovations the hope is they can keep people employed all year. “We want to give them a nice career, and a comfortable job where they can raise their families and be a part of the community,” she says. The company is also working on its benefits package and furthering employee education.
“Our focus is really making it better for our employees and then that will make it better for our customers too,” she says. “We’re working on building our family.”
While Del Vaglio says she should start spending more time on the business, don’t expect to stop seeing her in the field. “We built the business up together,” Del Vaglio says of her and her husband. “It’s been such a great experience, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Getting Over Fears
Del Vaglio says she wasn’t raised with a hammer in her hand. “Pumps scared me, turning valves scared me, turning the system off would scare me,” she says. “Everything about it was overwhelming, and I am not mechanical. I didn’t want to touch anything because I didn’t want to break anything. I just have so many hours of watching CJ and learning it slowly. I have a good grasp on everything now. I can plumb a pool and I can change out a motor; I stay away from the heaters. They’re still a little scary, but I’m hands on.”