A distributor, especially one the size of Poolcorp, touches almost every aspect of an industry. Few companies have a better view of the trends, problems and successes — and few are more able to influence and promote change.
Manuel Perez de la Mesa is celebrating his 14th pool season. The CEO of Poolcorp joined the company as president in 1999 and began his executive role in 2001. He’s seen the industry go through its heyday and watched it claw through a sustained recession.
Founded in 1993, Poolcorp now distributes more than 160,000 products. They have 300 sales
centers across North America and Europe that service 80,000 customers.
Perez says it’s time for those in the swimming pool industry to demand more professionalism from each other. And he’s making sure that Poolcorp leads the way.
Need for Industry Change
Perez says that for the last 40 or 50 years, the pool industry has had the “wind at its back.” So while many companies strove to conduct business in a professional way, many also could just breeze along. “Given that favorable business environment, there was a certain amount of complacency, a certain amount of resistance to change and lack of innovation,” Perez says.
Now that everyone must work harder for every sale and every dollar, Perez says, “In the last five years, the industry has evolved and changed, not radically, but certainly more so than the previous 34 years.”
But he says those welcomed and much-needed changes are not enough. Everyone must continue to strive to get better.
“Those who survive and succeed from an industry standpoint are those who invest in their own development and their own education to increase their professionalism and how they manage every facet of their business,” Perez says.
Leading the Way
If it feels like Perez is pointing fingers, consider that this is something Poolcorp did long before it started asking others to follow.
“We continue to invest in programs and tools to develop our people, to provide solutions internally that enable us to operate more effectively,” Perez says. Poolcorp has made changes in how it organizes its internal and external logistics and distribution networks. It also has an unparalleled breadth of worldwide products that they constantly review.
“All the investments that we make every year to develop new solutions and new technologies help us operate more efficiently and provide better service levels for our customers,” Perez says.
Poolcorp hasn’t just invested in itself. Fifteen years ago, the company decided to be proactive in helping the industry and its customers thrive: It evaluated what its customers needed to succeed and put programs in place to help them achieve those things. “Now it’s up to them what degree they want to choose to go that route, to utilize these tools and programs,” Perez says.
Perez and Poolcorp are passionate about improving the entire industry, but the money they spend serves their purposes as well.
“The reason we invest millions of dollars in consumer awareness and education, training our customers, and provide so much material on a subsidized basis is because we want and need them to succeed,” Perez says. “Because if they succeed, we in turn succeed.”