Manning Pool Service
Photography by Derek Salyer
David Manning, 29, Maintenance manager
Ana Manning, 29, COO
Jeffrey Manning, 31, Repair manager
As of January 2020, the baton of ownership for Manning Pool Service in Houston, Texas, will be passed to the second generation: Brothers Jeffrey (Jr.) and David Manning and David’s wife, Ana.
Jeff Sr. — who started in the pool industry in 1982 — and his wife Susan opened Manning Pool Service in 2001 as a Pentair warranty service company. David Manning joined the company in 2008 after high school graduation, and Ana followed in 2012. While Jeffrey Jr. was in and out of the industry between joining the Marine Corps and the fire department, by 2018 he officially fully committed to the pool company.
For her part, Ana has totally revamped the structure of the company. The first thing she tackled was service routes. Previously, no one was planning them out; techs were driving all over the place each day.
“We play a game,” she says. “[The crew will] say ‘route five, Wednesday, fifth customer,’ and I can name them and tell you what their pool looks like and the dynamics of it. When I started, there were only two routes. Now we have 18 routes. I haven’t been wrong yet.”
Eighteen routes equates to more than 630 maintenance customers for MPS. The company has 36 employees, 28 vehicles and is the largest Pentair warranty station in the Houston area. The Mannings work 12-hour days, Monday through Friday, and some Saturday mornings. Eventually they plan to take some time off, but right now agree they are proving their worth to take over as Jeff Sr. and Susan work toward full retirement in January.
Part of that means changing the industry as they know it. MPS is youth driven; 34 of the 36 employees are between the ages of 21 and 32. There are staff training meetings with various departments every morning, and the trio meets with a business coach weekly. They implemented a uniform this year and established core attributes by which they hire all employees: Trustworthy, positive, passionate, problem-solver, communicator.
Ana says they want to be the best so they can hire the best people. “[Other pool pros] don’t care about the why,” she says. “In our meetings we start by asking, ‘Why are you doing it?’ versus, ‘Hey, this is a paycheck.’ ”
Too many pool companies are in and out of the backyard with no communication, David says, adding that even something like a lack of uniform makes it hard for a customer to justify the expense. “We’re trying to be that company that does care,” he says, “that gives you what you’re paying for.”
“We’re trying to better ourselves constantly and better our employees,” Jeffrey Jr. says. “We want to duplicate our mindset to everyone else [on the team].”