Brothers Pool in Connecticut prizes family, customer relationship
By Michelle L. Cramer
Photography by Doug Melillo
John and Lisa Morgillo own the place. Their daughter, Lia, heads the marketing and sales department while Lia’s boyfriend learns construction. Lisa’s brother, Al, is the project manager for in-ground installations. Sue, Al’s wife, runs the front-end cash registers for the store. Doreen and Paul, John’s sister and brother-in-law, do sales part time. When Lisa’s dad visits in the summer, he helps with the water lab. Lisa’s 16-year-old nephew helps with pool service; her niece is a cashier.
And since its 1998 inception, that’s the way it’s always been at Brothers Pool in Wallingford, Connecticut. That year, John Morgillo started building pools with nothing but a dedicated telephone line in the Morgillo home. A year later, he opened a retail store and his wife, Lisa Morgillo (now vice president), got involved.
Thirty years later, they have a thriving business that does in-ground pool design and construction; accessories/furniture sales; a service department with chemical sales; hot tubs and swim spas; concrete patios; above-ground pools and fences.
Family is the center of it all, and “we also have employees who have been with us so long, they are family,” Lisa Morgillo says. “We try to keep company and team morale [up] by celebrating birthdays with cupcakes and birthday pay. We do little things like gift cards, holiday snacks, lunches and more on a regular basis [for employees]. This year, we have three team members going on earned vacations by reaching goals or growth within themselves.”
They do all this, Lisa explains, because no matter what they are selling or promoting, a strong and loyal team is paramount to reaching company goals. During the busy pool-build season of summer, Brothers Pool has around 35 full- and part-time employees. When pool-build season winds down and much of the company’s summer help goes back to school, there are around 20 employees.
John Morgillo grew up in the pool industry, so it wasn’t hard for him to jump right in on his own when he started pool construction 30 years ago. When he started the retail store, Lisa says he planned it well and the transition was fairly easy. “He picked an area where there was another pool company and they were the only ones around,” she says. “John figured, ‘Hey, they’ve been around here alone for a long time, so I’m sure there’s plenty of customers who would like other options.’ And then, in a couple of years, we moved from that little building we were renting and built our own store.”
The square footage of the Brothers Pool showroom, warehouse and garage is approximately 30,000 square feet. The store is open seven days a week during the season and closes Mondays from November until the season comes around again, with the exception of a few days during the Christmas season. “People want to come in and buy gift cards,” Lisa says, “And if you’re promoting a hot tub business, it’s crazy to close down [in the offseason], because they might go try the other guy and like them.”
As a celebration of the company’s 30th anniversary, Brothers Pool launched a project called Nominate a Veteran for a Hot Tub, asking community members to put forward names of veterans they felt deserved a free hot tub. The company also offers pool and spa schools to customers throughout the year. Last year, the company held a hot tub VIP night as a customer appreciation event, providing demos on hot tub care along with catered food, live music, hot tub Bingo and a water lab turned bar for the evening.
Brothers Pool’s loyalty has even lasted beyond the lives of some of its customers. Instead of sending flowers when a longtime customer dies, Brothers adopts that family for the season, opening and closing the pool, then teaching the new user how to care for it.
Lisa says connecting within the industry has also been helpful for business. Being a member of United Aqua Group has expanded the company’s vendor options; Lisa also recommends attending conferences and trainings.
Their daughter, Lia, attended a weeklong symposium in Texas [in November] and really enjoyed herself, Lisa says: “She came back very motivated, taking some things that that she learned there and implementing them here at the store.”
John is already semi-retired, and he and Lisa are teaching Lia the ways of the business in hopes it will eventually be hers. “I tell her, ‘You have to continue with the sales of the pools, spas and construction because it’s the circle of life,’ ” Lisa says. “You have to continue to feed the retail store.”