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Young, Hungry and Humble

Frustrated by the lack of resources and support when they started their pool service company, two men from Brothers Pool Service started a podcast

photography by Joan Wood
Pool built by Red Rock Pools & Spas, based in Mesa, Arizona

When Tyler Rasmussen got passed over for a promotion at his job, he said enough is enough. He had always dreamed of working for himself anyway, and a friend had been telling him about a pool route he just purchased.

“I’m a hard worker and do things the right way,” Rasmussen says. “I got tired of doing that for other people.” “[Pool service] intrigued me. I did a lot of research, and we lived in Arizona where there’s a pool for every two and a half houses, basically. I figured out what it would take to go on my own and the amount of money we could make doing it.”

Rasmussen started Brothers Pool Service with his younger brother in 2013, but after getting married, the sibling took a corporate job to get benefits. Shortly after, Rasmussen reconnected with Greg Villafana, taking him out on his route over the Fourth of July weekend. Villafana was living in California working a government job on a military base, but that day cleaning pools, the two started talking about working together.

“We laugh about it because it’s probably one of the hardest days each one of us has ever worked,” Villafana says. It was a stormy holiday weekend with high bather loads.

“The pools were wrecked,” he says. “I’d be cleaning the pool the whole time while Tyler would be making a repair. When he’d finish doing a repair, the pool still needed more cleaning. It was quite a few pools. But it felt gratifying cleaning all those pools. It felt good that my brother owned those pools. Those were his accounts he took care of.”

In high school, Rasmussen’s family let Villafana live with them when his family was going through a rough time, and the two think of each other as brothers.

Villafana eventually moved to Arizona to work with Rasmussen. For awhile they both worked other jobs and grew Brothers on the side — Rasmussen at a pool supply store doing motor repairs and Villafana doing retail sales and marketing for a Harley dealership. Eventually, they quit those jobs and worked at Brothers full time.

“Tyler and I are like yin and yang,” Villafana says. “We couldn’t be more opposite, but in this situation, it just works. It hasn’t always been easy, but we definitely have that chemistry.”

“I knew he had a lot of experience with branding and marketing,” Rasmussen says. “I didn’t really want to do that side of it. We’re kind of opposites on all we do within the business. We have meetings all the time, and we talk about what each other does, but we don’t step on each other’s toes.”

“We just understand and trust each other on a whole other level,” Rasmussen says. “With everything we’ve been through, I think there’s a level of respect with one another. We just know the other person is going to be there.”

PoolPro Editor-In-Chief, Megan Kendrick, with Villafana and Rasmussen during her interview on the Pool Chasers podcast. Listen here.

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But even working together, the two were frustrated trying to find resources to teach them the technical and business side of the industry.

“When I was researching the business at the very beginning, it was so difficult to find any information,” Rasmussen says. “In 2014, YouTube wasn’t even what it is now. We don’t have tools like HVAC companies and plumbing companies. You can’t go through school, become certified and run your own [pool service] company.”

Their exasperation didn’t go away, even after they started to get a handle on how to do everything themselves.

“We talked about how far behind the industry is with available information,” Villafana says. “We were like, man, it would be so cool if there was just a really good podcast. Something that was consistent and something every pool guy, every manufacturer, whoever it may be, can listen to this, get an update on the industry and also motivate them.”

In February, they released their first episode of the Pool Chasers podcast, starting with their own backstory. Each subsequent episode, the pair sits down with a guest — whether it be the owner of another pool service company, a pool builder, a representative from a distributor or manufacturer or (full disclosure) yours truly.

“I really think hearing the Brothers story and hearing all these other stories is going to help [listeners] start their company and go in the right direction,” Villafana says. “There wasn’t anything there, so we wanted to make the jump to do it, but we also wanted to build relationships with other companies.”

The two don’t espouse to be experts in the pool industry, and a lot of what they ask their guests are things they would like to learn themselves. They spend a lot of time before each episode trying to learn as much as they can about their guest and their company, and they don’t just stick to business.

“We want the juicy beginnings of how you were brought up and then how it led you into the industry, and where you’re at now,” Villafana says.

“It validates their story, and people can relate,” Rasmussen says. “When you relate to somebody and something in their story, then you’re hooked at that point to listen further and figure out what led him to going into the pool industry.”

The audience has been growing rapidly, they have their first sponsor — but the pair isn’t sure what the future holds for the endeavor.

“Even if things just stayed like this, where there’s no money coming in, we’d be super happy because of the kind of emails and feedback we get from people,” Villafana says. “It’s been inspiring to know people are looking at their business in a different light.”

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