Case Studies

Caribbean Pools Inc.: Creating a Backyard Oasis

  • Written by: Caribbean Pools Inc.: Creating a Backyard Oasis
  • Produced by: Caribbean Pools Inc.: Creating a Backyard Oasis
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Imagine the pool of your dreams, in your own backyard; an oasis that is custom designed, custom built and there for life. If you live in the Midwest, Caribbean Pools Inc. (Caribbean Pools) can make this dream a reality. Founded in 1976 by Frank Giberson, Caribbean Pools’ goal is “… to transform your backyard into a uniquely personal retreat that will refresh your spirit, renew your relationships, and revive your playful side.” In business now for nearly four decades, Caribbean Pools is a tried-and-true in-ground pool expert serving Illinois, Indiana and Michigan from three locations: Orland Park, Ill., plus Schererville and Valparaiso, Ind.

Curtis Joiner, one of Caribbean Pool’s main men since 1984, has been in the industry for nearly three decades. He’s the brains now, and sometimes the brawn, of Caribbean Pools. “I’ve been doing pools for 28 years,” explains Joiner. “I got into it as a young kid. Frank had seen my potential, I suppose, and took me under his wing. He kind of groomed me.”

Giberson has a proven eye for talent. In April 1996 Steve Foster joined the company after being recruited by Giberson for his proven success in business management. Flourishing under the leadership of Giberson, Joiner and Foster, Caribbean Pools now staffs between 60 and 85 employees from low to high season, and constructs over 100 pools a year. The company is maintaining double-digit million-dollar revenue a year and continues to expand.

Pooling Successes

While Giberson still acts as president, he is easing further toward the deep end of retirement, while Joiner, loosely known as the vice president, and Foster, the venture’s third equal business partner, happily keep Caribbean Pools not only afloat, but a local standard for all pool companies. Speaking of the partnership with Steve Foster, Joiner says, “We’re the new era. We’re the two brainstormers behind the curtain.”

Operating with a philosophy that is proactive rather than reactive, Joiner has spearheaded recent expansion efforts, despite the economic downturn. These have included the opening of Caribbean Pools’ newest store, a new state-of-the-art headquarters, and soon a new business arm catering to commercial clients.

“I’m pretty much the point man,” explains Joiner. “I designed the entire new store. I built most of the store. I build 90 percent of the bottoms of the pools. But I’m also a big administrator. That’s why Frank asked me back. He knew we’d make the company work.” After a hearty apprenticeship at a young age, Joiner left to start his own pool business, yet returned to Frank’s Caribbean Pools after five years. Joiner also had faith in the enterprise. “I knew it could be big [business],” he says.

Doing it All

Joiner has enthusiasm for days. He’s running with the passed torch from Frank, and the future looks brightly lit.

It doesn’t hurt to have a business and partners you love, and the love is extended to the employees and customers. “Steve and I, we’re here 24/7 for employees and customers,” expounds Joiner. “We are extremely passionate. We live it. There are nights we don’t sleep.”

It’s a good thing that enthusiasm is not in short supply, because Caribbean Pools does it all when it comes to in-ground swimming pools. “We do every aspect,” states Joiner. “From the digging to the electrical work, you name it, we do it, except for landscaping.” Those additional aspects include design, permitting, excavation, hauling dirt, pouring concrete, electrical and maintenance. It’s a full-service operation.

“We have our own dump trucks, all our own equipment,” says Joiner. Furthermore, he confidently declares that he’s got the best team working for him. “We have the best service company in all southwest Chicago. We maintain in the vicinity of 365 swimming pools, weekly.” As far as geographic footprint, Joiner says it’s roughly a 150-mile radius out from the Chicago area.

Is it a Pool or a Headquarters?

One of the most exciting things to happen to Caribbean Pools’ operation is its brand spanking new headquarters building in Valparaiso, Ind. Upon completion, the contractor declared “… this building sets the standard by which all other pool companies will be gauged.” The design is certainly unique. “You walk through an [upright] swimming pool to get into the building,” chuckles Joiner. “It’s a beautiful building.”

What’s more impressive is how much of this success and development has come during a challenging soft market. “That has been our immediate three-year challenge,” acknowledges Joiner. However, with a second store up and running, sales have increased 10 percent across the board. “The store has been our creation [i.e. our answer] to our problem,” says Joiner. Other areas of focus at the company for Joiner and Foster are continued expansion into new areas, and new sustainability measures in construction and maintaining the pools.

How does Caribbean Pools do it all successfully, and increase revenue? “In order for us to execute well, thoroughly and efficiently, we keep a great open line of communication open with our customers,” says Joiner. To assure no issues for these valued clients, this line of communication also extends to landscapers (the only subs utilized) and neighbors. “We work with everybody on site, and we are very courteous in how we leave the site [while an in-ground pool is being constructed],” says Joiner.

“Our customers tell us they love the way we communicate,” Joiner adds. As a matter of fact, if somebody uses another pool company, oftentimes they’ll end up coming around to Caribbean Pools anyway, laughs Joiner. “We have people calling us to ask if their pool guy did the right thing.” Clearly, Caribbean Pools Inc. is doing the right thing, and this in-ground pool business is far from being underwater.

Published on: March 6, 2013

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