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John Chakalis, Edgar De Jesus and Zac Nicklas

Giving Voice(s) to the Service Industry

Pool Nation aims to elevate service and repair businesses

Edgar De Jesus remembers being at a pump for 45 minutes, stressed out, calling people because he couldn’t get the pump to work. He felt he had nobody to turn to. That experience, and others like it, made him passionate about helping other new pool pros.

That passion became Pool Nation, which encompasses a podcast, Instagram Lives, training and software to help people in the pool service industry reach their full potential. He co-hosts the podcast with John Chakalis and Zac Nicklas. Chakalis owns J&J Flawless Pools in the Coachella Valley, California, with his wife Janey; Nicklas co-owns The Pool Boys in League City, Texas, with Justin Morehead.

The Pool Nation Instagram feed quickly became a place where pool pros could ask questions. De Jesus started doing Instagram Live sessions, and Chakalis and Nicklas were early guests. The Lives were popular, but if people were busy or had to close their phone, they missed out. Requests poured in for them to do a podcast.

“I was like, ‘Absolutely not, I’m too busy,’ ” De Jesus says. But the pressure continued. “I said, ‘I’m going to do it only if Zac and John join me.’ ” He thought they would also be too busy, but to his surprise they both agreed. They published the first episode September 4, 2020.

Pretty quickly, the trio realized they wanted to focus on reaching new pool professionals: “In order to change the industry, we’ve got to start with the people who are just getting into it,” Chakalis says.

As they released more episodes and received more and more questions, it became apparent that education for this segment of the industry was paramount. They wanted to make sure people could take something from each episode and know how to apply it in the field and to their business immediately. They wanted to give industry pros turn-by-turn navigation and a safe place to ask any question.

As listeners began to trust the three of them, another need emerged: As they spoke more in-depth on business rather than technical topics, they realized there was a real deficiency in business acumen.

“That’s the personal information everybody is too afraid to ask,” Chakalis says. “You just can’t read a book and learn it; you have to have lived it. It’s the foundation of your business.”

Nicklas says the conversation around running a business is often missed. “It’s starting to make people think,” he says. “It took me a long time to think like that — this is a business, we’ve got to start running it that way.”

Pool Nation invested in putting together not only a pool-business training program but also back-end software.

“It was specifically built because pool guys kept coming to us,” De Jesus says. The class covers everything, he says, including the difference between being a sole proprietor and corporation; what your systems should have; expenses, profits and other metrics; and micro businesses. “And that all came because there was a constant, ‘Please, please, please show us what it is that you guys are talking about,’ ” he adds.

Awards are the newest expansion of the Pool Nation family. Presenting for the first time at the Pool | Spa | Patio Expo in November, the Pool Nation awards encompass categories and winners selected by people in the pool service industry. Some of the categories include VSP pump of the year; favorite pool-vac system and sales rep of the year. There will also be a special dual award to some of PoolPro’s 30 Under 40 recipients.

“We want [the service and repair industry] to understand that they have a voice,” Chakalis says. “[Service and repair] is the heart beat of the industry.”

And while Chakalis and Nicklas may fight over who has the best industry beard, the three say that no matter what happens with Pool Nation, they are friends for life, and in the pool industry for life.

“It makes me a stronger person; I’m learning from it,” Nicklas says, adding that getting questions and having meaningful conversations with followers recharges him, too. “And I love talking business and pools.”

“The pool industry is our industry,” the trio says. “If we can help in any possible way to better the industry we’re part of, in turn helps us.”

John Chakalis, Edgar De Jesus and Zac Nicklas

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