What’s ahead for him and the company he helmed for two decades
This summer, Poolcorp announced the retirement of its longtime leader, Manuel Perez de la Mesa. While Perez de la Mesa will stay on the board of directors, at the end of 2018 Peter Arvin will assume the role of CEO.
Megan Kendrick: Are you excited for next year and what that change looks like for you?
Manuel Perez de la Mesa: It’s another adventure. From the perspective of the company and in that respect, it’s all good. There’s a bit of uncertainty for me, and that really stems from my need to stay busy. I’d like to do that in a formal fashion that doesn’t upset my wife too much.
MK: You are staying on the [POOLCORP] board.
MPM: Yes, I’m on another board as well. I’ll be involved in other things; I’m not exactly sure of what those are just yet. I’m sure that over the next six months to a year, I’ll keep busy, challenged and contributing.
MK: Why did you think was the right time?
MPM: Typically, the average tenure is about seven years for somebody running a company, particularly a public company. It will be 20 years for me. Being that we’re in a service business, I’m very sensitive to having a sense of urgency. To that end, I have to set the example, basically, being available 24/7, 365 days a year. Some people may say, “Well, that’s an extreme,” but that’s been my nature and I feel a sense of responsibility to do that. Can I do that on a go-forward basis for the next five/10 years? No. I don’t want to overstay my welcome in this particular case. I was fortunate to come into the position earlier than most. You have to pick a time, and I picked a time.
Frankly, the tough part is, it’s a great industry, a great company. I genuinely love working with the people. That includes certainly our people in the company, but also a number of individuals that I work with, our suppliers, our customers and the investors.
MK: What has been the most rewarding part of your time at Poolcorp?
MPM: Seeing the evolution of our people over time and seeing them realize success. I’m very proud of what they have accomplished individually and collectively. That’s really the greatest gift: to get feedback that they are enjoying themselves, they are growing personally and professionally.
MK: When Peter [Arvin, Perez de la Mesa’s successor, current executive vice president and chief operating officer at Poolcorp], came on in 2017, was this in mind at that time? That he would be the person who would take over?
MPM: Yes. The logic was to bring somebody in from outside and provide a transition period to make sure I was confident in that individual’s ability to take the company forward. After an extensive search process, I came across Pete and then have been working with him for the past 20 months. He’s experienced running a business and a division of another company. Frankly, that’s what you’re looking for. You’re looking for somebody who has that background and experience, as well as the emotional intelligence, the skillset and everything else to move the business forward. I feel very confident about the organization and the team going forward.
MK: You’ve successfully run the biggest company in the pool industry for 20 years and seen amazing growth, guided it through the Great Recession. What general business advice you would give to the average pool company, our readers who are walking into SCP [and Superior Pool Products] locations?
MPM: Urgency to serve. We’re a service business, right? Whether it’s a contractor as a service business, a retail store as a service business or service as a service business. You have to have an urgency to serve. Second, you have to have an ongoing drive to see how you can get better and understanding that you will find a plethora of opportunities to do that. You’ve got to identify the ones that are best applicable for you. Then make those a priority and get them done.
MK: Is there anything else you want people to know about this transition, about where you’re going, about where Poolcorp is going?
MPM: I’m extremely confident the company will continue to get better at everything it does, and continue to grow and participate in a great industry on a progressively more successful basis. In terms of me, I’ll be fine.
Manuel Perez de la Mesa, aka Manny
Joined Poolcorp 1999 as president; became CEO in 2001
- Watsco, Inc., 1994–1999
- Fresh Del Monte Produce B.V., 1987–1994
- International Business Machines Corp., 1982–1987
- Sea Land Service Inc./R.J. Reynolds, Inc., 1977–1982
- MORSCO Inc.
- Pool Corporation
- Morrison Supply Company, LLC
- TricorBraun, Inc.
- Bachelor of Business Administration from Florida International University
- Master of Business Administration from St. John’s University