Deep breath, everyone — there are still a few more weeks before another frenetic pool season begins. I think our schedules are on opposite trajectories because we frontload as much of our work as possible, so that when your busy season hits, we aren’t bugging you for story quotes and information.
I’ve worked in the pool and spa industry since 2008, but what I’ve seen over the last three years has been remarkable. In an industry that has always felt fragmented and disparate, divided by regions, competition and egos, we’ve started to see a real coming together and community form on Facebook (pages 34 and 16). You also see this in the number of industry podcasts popping up (page 14).
There’s still bullying and in-fighting due to competitive tension, misplaced self-importance and the anonymity of online comments. But it seems the majority of people are truly there to try and help one another learn and build something. This is of the utmost importance — and excuse me while I get sentimental about it.
Americans have a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, hard-work-overcomes-all mentality — and as entrepreneurs in this labor-intensive industry, I know that describes the majority of you. It’s admirable; it’s one of the things that makes our country great. But that attitude can also lead to isolation, where failures affect not only your business but also your self-worth. Having someone, even in a Facebook post from the other side of the country say, “I’ve experienced that too,” can turn despair into encouragement. Having a community can make all the difference, and I’ve got the text messages and emails to prove it.
Play nice and get involved in helping others in our industry. You can be tough, you can correct — but you can also be kind. You don’t know what someone may be going through behind the scenes: What angry phone call they just got from a customer or their spouse; what health problem their kid may be facing or what bill they don’t know how they’re going to pay. It’s tough out there, and we need each other.