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A Plaster Legend

Meet Randy Dukes, the man behind the book on plaster

Randy Dukes, a pool plaster expert with more than three decades of experience, has profoundly shaped the pool industry, earning widespread respect and admiration.

“We would not have an industry without Randy Dukes,” says Jon Temple, president of Tempool. “He has given his heart and soul to this industry. He’s an incredible man.”

Temple first met Dukes as a teenager. After serving in the Peace Corps for several years, Temple returned to the Florida pool industry and reconnected with Dukes at a trade show.

“And that [meeting] changed my whole life,” Temple says. “Randy has been my mentor since ’96. He is a person who, if he sees a problem, has to figure out why and how and what to do to fix it.”

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After years of hands-on experience, Randy Dukes has become a well-known and respected authority on plaster-related issues.

In the 1970s Dukes moved to Florida and found his way to the spa industry, first installing commercial spas in health and recreational facilities before moving on to sales and marketing for a spa manufacturing company. In 1987, he started his own company and became an independent representative promoting pool stain chemicals and related items.

His involvement with pool plastering began in 1991 while attending an NPC Conference with his friend Jack Beane of Jack’s Magic. This set Dukes on a path in the plaster industry, learning and perfecting his trade through hands-on experience. Over the years, Dukes estimates he has inspected more than 16,000 pools, becoming a leading authority on plaster-related issues like staining, deterioration and discoloration.

One notable incident in Dukes’ career involved discovering and solving widespread gray discoloration in pools caused by trapped moisture. After identifying the problem through trial and error, Dukes developed a low-alkalinity process that helps release the moisture. “And it doesn’t come back,” Dukes says.

Dukes has even developed a kind of catchphrase through his work. “Anyone who knows me has heard me say, ‘Dilution is the solution!’ ” he says. 

Dukes’ contributions extend beyond individual consultations. He has been involved with various industry organizations, including the Florida Swimming Pool Association, Florida’s Construction Industry Licensing Board, the National Plasterers Council, the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, the Northeast Spa & Pool Association, GENESIS, the American Concrete Institute, Plaster Committee 524 and more. He was given the Member of the Year award from the National Plasterers Council in 2011 and also produced a video through the NPC to teach pool owners about taking care of their pool. 

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After years of hands-on experience, Randy Dukes has become a well-known and respected authority on plaster-related issues.

Recognizing Dukes’ immense contributions, Temple is establishing The Randy Dukes School of Pool Plaster at his shop.

“It was a wonderful day,” Temple says, recalling Dukes’ emotional reaction when he shared the news. “Randy has never [looked] for recognition. He’s always been the guy that if you need anything, you call. I had to push this through to show him some appreciation.”

Blaine Johnson, president and CEO of CL Industries — where Dukes is the national technical sales adviser — also holds Dukes in high esteem.

“He is an icon in the industry,” Johnson says. “He is always willing to help, always willing to listen, always willing to teach. And he’s like that with everybody.”

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Johnson says Dukes’ commitment to teaching comes from his passion for the industry. 

“He’s a very positive, cheerful, energetic personality,” Johnson says. “He exudes such passion and always has a desire to learn and impart knowledge. I don’t know if you could find somebody who wouldn’t say great things about Randy. He’s just one of those guys.”

Dukes has been a pivotal figure as the plaster industry has evolved. He literally wrote the book on it — “Pool Surfaces, Problems and Solutions,” now approaching its 10th edition.

He is the original go-to guy for questions, conversations, feedback and sound boarding on plaster issues.”

Blaine Johnson, CL Industries

“As this space has grown, there are a few other people in this area [of expertise],” Johnson says. “But in my mind, he is the original go-to guy for questions, conversations, feedback and sound boarding on plaster issues.”

In addition to his technical skills, Temple highlights character traits vital to Dukes’ success, particularly his patience.

“He’s an intelligent man who can see past somebody’s frustration, wait for it to be vented out and say, ‘OK, now you’re done with that, let’s get on to fixing the problem,’ ” Temple says.

As he nears retirement, Dukes plans to stay connected to the industry.

“I keep my phone line open because I need to stay busy,” he says.

For Dukes, who emphasizes personal reputation, his legacy is important.

“I want to educate everybody,” he says. “I want everybody to have the same attitude that I have — [to] want to be the best. We’re going to do everything we can to help them be the best.”

When retirement arrives, Dukes and his wife, Jane, wish to explore new horizons by traveling to Fiji, Vietnam and New Zealand and revisiting Ireland, Scotland and Italy. Dukes also enjoys fine wine, fishing and boating along with spending quality time with his granddaughter who is attending college.

But if you’d like to sit down for dinner and ask him to spill all his secrets, he already shared the first one with us: He truly enjoys a filet, a loaded baked potato and a glass of red wine.

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