Dustin Anderson

Commercially Sound

How Dustin Anderson built a commercial pool biz

How Dustin Anderson built a commercial pool biz

Dustin Anderson knows a thing or two about waking up before the sun. 

As far as Anderson, CEO of Precision Aquatics, is concerned, “If you can’t get your butt out of bed before 5 a.m.,” then the commercial pool service industry isn’t for you. 

When there are pools waiting for a cleaning at a large resort or apartment complex, Anderson and his service team know they need to beat the swimmers to it. 

That, and they need to stay ahead of the San Diego morning traffic. 

His reason for the crack-of-dawn service calls is simple: “You can’t do quality cleaning and maintenance with people in the pool, and you don’t want to kick people out if you don’t have to,” he says.

Even as CEO, Anderson still personally services pools at resorts and other big commercial properties three days a week. With 250 commercial accounts in San Diego County, the rest of his schedule is spent coordinating with employees on the seven-days-a-week service schedule. Sometimes that means weekend servicing and emergency calls for large, high-priority properties, too.

When he’s not servicing pools or coordinating calls, Anderson is closing deals and meeting with HOA boards and property managers. Once pool cleaning accounts are taken care of, Anderson and his techs visit other sites that need filter and salt cell cleans, spa drains and more. A lot of his team’s work includes chemical automation calibration and preventative maintenance as well. 

While taking on commercial accounts may intimidate some pool pros, it’s what Anderson loves to do.  

“Most people think I’m crazy operating this way,” he says. “I think it’s easier to ask for money out of a corporate budget instead of Mrs. Jones’s wallet.”

His longtime experience with pools makes it simple for him to talk shop. After all, he’s been in the industry since he was a teen.

The pool industry is all Anderson has ever known. Owning a company that he could run his way had always been on his radar, too. When he started working for Leslie’s Pool Supplies at age 15, he got a primer on the pool world over five years and moved up the ranks. He briefly worked with another company servicing pools, and then in 2007 — right before the economy went down — he opened Precision Aquatics. 

Did it worry him that the economy spiraled? Not once. Even when the pandemic happened, he knew he’d be OK. After all, he’d been through tough times before and thrived.

He says cheap rent and paid bills allowed him to start the company despite living in an expensive state. After about three years, he and his wife — Jackie Anderson, Precision Aquatics chief financial officer — brought on their first employee. 

One of his initial employees, Robert Swank, is still with the team. The two met at Leslie’s Pool Supplies and “hit it off” from the start. For Swank, escaping the traditional 9-to-5 appealed to him. It’s what much of Anderson’s 13-person team appreciates about the job.

Honestly, the main reason I came to work here back then and stay here to this day is the freedom this industry offers to allow for having a family life.”

Robert Swank, Precision Aquatics

“Honestly, the main reason I came to work here back then and stay here to this day is the freedom this industry offers to allow for having a family life,” Swank says. “I used to manage big-box retailers and never saw my kids.” 

The early morning wake-ups three days a week ensure Anderson and his service team get that quality family time. He allows his team members to set their own pace and schedules. If there’s a baseball game in the middle of the day or a doctor’s appointment, Anderson wants his team members to take advantage of the flexible schedules and go to those important activities. 

“Dustin is family first,” says Joey Busic Jr., lead service technician. “I’m notorious for going to Disneyland twice a month. I would dread telling him, but every single time he’s like, ‘Just go, dude.’ ”

Even though he’s up at 3 a.m. some days, Busic Jr. says he loves when Monday mornings roll around because every day he learns something new. 

“Dustin and the way he manages his company is very unorthodox,” Busic Jr. says. “It’s not your typical business … He puts trust in us that we will do the best job. He’s not a micromanager. He kind of lets it roll.” 

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Dustin and the way he manages his company is very unorthodox. It’s not your typical business … He puts trust in us that we will do the best job.”

Joey Busic, Jr., Precision Aquatics

Beyond his leadership style, Anderson also sets an example with his choice of industry-related extracurriculars. 

Anderson takes pride in his role as a board member of The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals San Diego. Because of California’s unique climate and landscape, Anderson believes in learning more about water conservation. In his role for the association, he’s been bringing information from his commercial pool servicing company to develop new standards for the industry around water usage. 

“It’s exciting to be on the ground for that to give feedback and data from the field,” he says. 

Much like the residential sector, success within the commercial pool world comes down to connections.

“We pride ourselves on networking and building relationships throughout the pool industry, which has not been my experience with other companies,” says Donny Rocovits, repair manager. “Something that may surprise those who normally work in residential is the amount of e-mail and communication required to maintain strong relationships with all of the employees involved in large properties.” 

Being a well-liked and well-connected company also means landing bigger accounts. For Anderson and his team, that looks like working with one of California’s biggest commercial swimming pool builders and up to 50 times a year taking “part of the birth of a brand-new baby pool.” 

To maintain that kind of start-up schedule for new builds, it takes a team he trusts and knows will show up and do well on behalf of Precision Aquatics. Whether it’s hauling equipment up to the 33rd floor of a building or making an apartment complex pool sparkle, knowing his team does top-notch work is one of the biggest sources of pride for Anderson. 

Much to his dismay, not many other commercial service pool companies in San Diego have reputable and reliable teams, Anderson says. He’s tried repeatedly to refer business to others when his team is too busy. He’s even temporarily taken his website down to deter new prospects because his team is maxed out with routes and calls. 

It has always come back to haunt him when he’s referred out to other companies because so often the referred customer is dissatisfied. He hopes that will change in the future, but in the meantime, he’s grateful for his loyal employees who show up day after day.

“We have this unbelievable rock star team among all these companies that can’t seem to keep employees,” Anderson says. “I’ve been doing it a long time. We’ve weeded through bad employees. I’ve built this team of absolute assassins. We call them the pool assassins.” 

Taking care of his employees is a top priority, he says. New trucks, nice uniforms and flexible schedules are some of the top perks Anderson offers.

That, and making sure customers are pleasant to deal with daily. No matter how profitable the account, if Anderson suspects a prospect will be difficult and negative to work for, he won’t serve them, he says. 

That’s the beauty of having built a successful company in a stunning location. It’s hard enough to do business in California without adding in the unnecessary stress of high-maintenance, mean customers, he says. 

“We have an unbelievably beautiful location that we work in every day,” he says. “We have very high standards for the people we work for.” 

When it’s time for him to retire, Anderson hopes he’s done right by the pool industry. 

“It’s very expensive and difficult to do business in California,” he says. “We have so many people operating under the table — so many cheaters and scumbags in the industry. It makes it hard for guys like myself and others who are operating on a level playing field. I hope I’ll leave this industry a little better than I found it.”

Who to Follow

Instagram: @precisionaquaticssd

Facebook: Precision Aquatics Pool Service & Repair

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