Florida plasterer is hoping its rising tide will lift all ships
Swimming pool plaster expert Jon Temple says that he started his Florida company, Tempool Inc., in 1996 with four employees, an old Chevy van and a mixer. A Volkswagen van, he adds, “was too expensive.”
Swimming pool plumbing on new builds, pool equipment upgrades and service
Number of employees
Pools Constructed Weekly
Participants Trained Yearly
Fast forward to 2023, and the numbers tell a different story: 27 years, 136 employees, 65,000 pools in 22 countries.
It’s a success story with an unusual path. “It’s a very organized ‘disorganized’ company,” Temple says. “We know where we need to get to, but we have no straight line drawn from A to B. We just don’t always know which direction we’re gonna go [in the beginning], but we’re gonna show up.”
Temple began plastering in high school, then spent five years in Honduras, first as a volunteer with the Peace Corps and then as a construction contractor for the Honduran military. When the budding entrepreneur returned to his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, he began plastering pools, then launched Tempool. The venture steadily began to grow.
Then, Temple says, “I got extremely lucky, because I went to an international trade show and I met one of the people that changed my whole journey. And that was Randy Dukes.”
Dukes is a top plastering educator. “And for some reason, he and I just clicked; we became steadfast, incredible friends,” Temple says. “Randy taught me how to look at problems and how to solve problems. And in our industry, no one does that.”
Since that pivotal day, Temple says that he and Dukes have tackled every type of pool plastering problem that the industry could throw at them, “and that’s been going on for 25-plus years.”
The mentoring relationship took another turn when Dukes introduced Temple to Fred Horton, the president of CL Industries, a material manufacturer. “With my work relationship with Randy and the way I’m wired, all three of us started working together to figure out better materials and better processes. So, with their tutelage — and my stubbornness and willingness to work — [Tempool] was able to move at a steady pace forward.”
That pace has also expanded the company’s core plastering business (a robust 70–80 pools a week) to include new products and education. According to Temple, “We remodel swimming pools, we do all the plaster preparation work on new pools, and then we plaster them.” Once that’s complete, he says, they use their own brand of organic product, called Pool Wash, instead of muriatic acid to clean the pool. This innovative industry product, which they now produce and sell, took several years to perfect and is an important part of Plaster Logic, the educational division of Tempool.
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Each week, one or two pool plastering companies from all over the world come to Jacksonville for training in Tempool’s procedures, including pool plastering, using Pool Wash, start ups and repair. According to Robert Abinuman, project manager for Tempool and director of Plaster Logic, “We evaluate their needs before they come here,” and then customize the training based on those needs. “We give them the whole nine yards. They wanna be a plaster company? OK, we’re going to teach them how to be a plaster company,” Abinuman adds. “Not just how to plaster a pool, we are going to teach them how to manage money and avoid common mistakes.”
Also contributing to the company’s success over the years is a skillful, loyal workforce, trained by Temple, that boasts a 90% retention rate. Temple says that he has always had a “constant drive” to give people job opportunities to grow and to improve themselves, and in turn, he adds, they have given him the opportunity to do a better job.
There have been challenges for Tempool along the way, particularly during the pandemic. Critical to keeping the business going at that time was Temple’s relationship with Horton and CL Industries. “I’ve used CL Industries from day one,” Temple says. “So, when we went through COVID and the shortages, I did not miss one day of material. Because of the commitment I had with them, they made sure they had a commitment with me.”
Future plans for the company may not be linear, according to the entrepreneur, but there are still goals to be met along the way.
One is continued growth: “[To] grow tall, but also to mushroom out to give options for people to grow into,” Temple says. Currently, talks are under way with people in Cape Town, South Africa, regarding Tempool providing training for two or three months a year, Temple says.
Ensuring the fluid continuity of the company is another: “I have my three sons who work for me, but I also have men who have been with me 25, 27 years,” explains Temple, who is currently in the process of training his staff to make decisions if he’s not around or available. “Right now, Robert Abinuman is the one who makes the decisions. I give him my advice, but he makes the decisions.”
Finally, one of Temple’s biggest goals is to create an accreditation process for pool plasterers. “Pool plastering is an incredible craft and there are so many incredible craftsmen out there [in the world] creating beautiful work,” he says. “By coming up with an accreditation, we can make our industry even more professional.”
For Temple, there’s also a deep personal goal going forward, rooted in his long-time ethos. “I tell everybody there’s nothing more I want to see than everybody doing better than me,” he says.