Tom Cucinotta has industry recognition. So what makes this pool guy so popular?
Tom Cucinotta never could have envisioned the popularity that came with winning the 2012 Pleatco Perfect PoolGuy award. For the owner of Cucinotta Pool Service in Lake Worth, Fla., it’s been an influx of recognition both in face and name: magazine and radio interviews, and speaking engagements.
It started 16 years ago when Cucinotta and his family moved to Florida. He was working 80 to 90 hours a week as an assistant manager for a chain grocery store. “I was very unhappy,” Cucinotta says. “I did not know my kids, and my wife was always alone. So I started looking for something where I could be the owner. I wanted to be home on the weekends. I wanted to see my kids play soccer after school.” He bought a 37-customer pool route, not knowing at all where it would lead.
He now cites it as the best decision he ever made.
Within the first year, Cucinotta Pool Service had more than 100 pools on the route. Not long after, a pool builder approached Tom and asked if he would introduce homeowners to their new pools, explaining maintenance and, it was hoped, gaining new clients. He was up to more than 300 pools within the first few years. Spreading the word was fairly easy for him: When a neighbor sees you doing a good job, they ask for a quote, he says.
However, Cucinotta Pool Service suffered with the economic downturn of 2008, and Cucinotta had run out of ideas. “My younger sister, Susan, and I were very close,” he says. “She was killed by a drunk driver years ago. I went to bed one night and said to her, ‘Help me through this.’ She’s my guardian angel.”
The next morning, Cucinotta received a call from Susan Russell, SCP pool business development representative. The fact that she has the same name as his sister is not lost on Cucinotta: “She came to our house for dinner that night, and we all hit it off great,” he says. Since Russell came along, Cucinotta has not only seen his business double since to 600 customers, but he attributes much of that to Russell’s marketing skills. They’ve also become close friends.
“Tom knows the importance of education and advertisement and has grown his business far beyond what I ever expected him to,” Russell says. “He is passionate about his job and making sure the homeowner has accurate information regarding their pool products.”
Rob Dimare, South/Central Florida sales manager for Pentair Aquatics, says Cucinotta’s devotion to education contributes largely to his success. “Tom has traveled all over the world with me and has taught thousands of pool dealers his secrets on how to become successful. He has proven to be very ethical in his business ventures and has never stopped teaching customers and his peers how to do it the right way.”
Cucinotta says that’s his favorite part of being a pool guy: making a difference in someone’s backyard. “And when I do,” he says, “I walk away knowing that I made a customer for life, that I really did something that has value to it.”