Business First

Scott Waldo sees himself as a businessman then pool builder

Photos by: Derek Salyer

Scott Waldo’s pool industry resume is varied, to say the least. He started in pool construction at age 13; was selling pools by 17; tried wholesale distribution; built pools in Nigeria, Africa; worked for a company in Florida, then moved back to Texas to open some of its locations. By 1998, he was ready to open his own shop, Platinum Pools, now one of the most recognizable pool companies in the industry today.

“Once the chlorine gets in your blood, it’s hard to get it out,” Waldo says. He’s passionate about helping pool business owners become better business people, saying that too many see themselves as a builder, technician or retailer instead of a business owner.

“I love what I do for a living, and I love this industry,” Waldo says. “But if we don’t pay attention to the quality of the products and the quality of the businesses that we run, we’re going to put ourselves out of business.”

He credits his business acumen to his diverse experience and Vistage International, an executive coaching organization. While working in Nigeria, Waldo flew all over the country, mostly working on government projects. This work put him in contact with high-level executives, like the owner of an airline, governors or the founder of an international children’s charity.

“I was dealing with big-time executives at 21 years old,” Waldo says.  “Dealing with people like that helped me mature quickly on the business side.”

Waldo says he wishes industry manufacturers and vendors would start offering companies like his education on business matters, not just technical issues.

“I don’t need you to tell me how to build a pool,” Waldo says. “But let me pick your brain, use your resources and your knowledge …to make my company better.”

Platinum Pools is in the process of bringing all of its construction in-house with the hopes it will no longer need to use subcontractors, which Waldo says caused quality-control issues. Bemoaning the subpar workers in his area and the negative way people seem to view working in the trades, he’s started to look to Puerto Rico to find workers to add to his growing construction segment.

“Work is really dismal [in Puerto Rico] for these guys,” Waldo says, adding that the U.S. territory’s economy is doing poorly. “We’ve been bringing crews over from there, putting them in apartments, getting them set up for a couple of months and then bringing the rest of their families over.”

Workers must fit the Platinum Pools company culture, which Waldo says is the biggest thing on which they hire and fire. But if you do fit in, the perks are great: On Mondays, employees get their cars washed for free. Every Wednesday, a massage therapist comes in. Thursdays, they buy the whole office lunch. Every Friday, the construction crews and servicemen get breakfast. And each year, they send the employees’ children or grandchildren to summer camp for two weeks.

“Since we’ve showed the staff how much we care about them, they’re treating our clients better,” Waldo says. “They’re petrified to lose their job because they love it so much.”

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Gabby Palumbo