Brothers and owners of Spartan Pool & Patio talk about building pools and legacies
When Jordan Demeter and Sam Stroud, brothers and owners of Spartan Pool & Patio, talk about their business, the concept of legacy frequently emerges, beginning with the story of how they got their start.
Don Demeter, the grandfather of Jordan Demeter and Stroud, was a professional baseball player for over a decade. After his baseball career ended, Demeter tried a variety of jobs, but nothing really stuck, and he missed being outdoors. When Demeter had a company from Michigan — Spartan Pools — install a vinyl pool for his family, the company convinced him to be a franchisee. A couple of pool installations later, word spread of his quality work and exceptional customer service; from there, Demeter found success building pools in the Oklahoma City area for the next three decades.
When Jordan and Sam were around 12 years old — not long after they became stepbrothers when their widowed parents remarried — they began helping Demeter in the summer months.
“It was hard work, lots of picking and shoveling and wheelbarrowing, but he was just so much fun that he made the concept of being in the pool business some kind of magical idea,” Stroud recalls. “It seemed like a no-brainer for us to start our company when we felt like we had a good enough feel for how to do things.”
Stroud and Demeter’s Norman, Oklahoma-based business got its start in 2008 as a vinyl pool builder and koi pond and waterfall installer under the name Spartan Pools & Ponds. Soon after, the company started offering service and maintenance before diving into concrete construction and renovation in 2011.
Demeter recalls the horror stories of family partnerships when deciding to go into business with his brother, but he had seen it work with his grandfather, and he believed working with his brother would actually give him an advantage.
“We had the history of growing up and knowing how to work with each other in a family setting before we did it in a professional setting,” Demeter says. “Before we were brothers, we were best friends. If we were going to do something, me and Sam did it together. It wasn’t even a question.”
After spending several years learning how to run a business together, the next big leap was in 2019 with the acquisition of Thompson Pool & Patio, a well-respected and established retail and service company in the Norman area. The acquisition added retail to Spartan’s existing maintenance and construction divisions, and the company updated its name to Spartan Pool & Patio.
In the beginning, the transition proved to be challenging for the company.
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“Before the acquisition, we were quite a bit smaller, and I think I had an outsized opinion of our competencies and leadership ability,” Stroud says. “We had a pretty tight group of about 12 people and were in a decent rhythm. Through the acquisition, we doubled the size of our team overnight.”
Through the next year, the company continued to grow and nearly tripled the number of employees. Despite the challenges, Stroud and Demeter felt confident they were going in the right direction for their company. Though they wanted to have the same kind of reliable reputation in business as their grandfather, they determined that his model of a two- or three-man operation would limit them from playing a more significant role in their community.
“A driving thing for me and Sam is to create jobs and careers for people and create a place to work that we would love to [be part of],” Demeter says.
“[Through expansion], you get to open yourself up to a variety of different personalities and giftings in your team,” Stroud adds. “Someone who is attracted to construction is probably wired a little bit differently from one of our sales associates in the retail department. I think that’s a good thing that makes us more well-rounded and able to serve people in a more holistic way.”
As the business grows, the pair are making plans to expand Spartan’s commercial offerings, maintenance department and retail locations. Ultimately, they hope to continue their grandfather’s legacy of service and excellence.
“Our reputation is super important to us because even though it doesn’t have our family name on it, there are still so many people in this area that associate Spartan with Don Demeter,” Jordan Demeter says.
That legacy means more than building quality pools and patios; it’s also about supporting the community, Stroud says.
“We have an interest — maybe you can call it an obligation to some degree — to help build careers and jobs in our community,” he says. “People really matter. We get to engage in our community and invest in people. Ultimately, that’s a huge part of what we are all here for.”