WRITTEN BY TYLER MURRAY | PHOTOS COURTESY OF CONCORD POOLS
Jon Foshee has worked in the pool industry since he can remember. As a child, he spent his summer days working in his parent’s pool store in Rotterdam, NY. In his teenage years, he worked on the maintenance and installation side of the business to earn his summer cash. In 2008, as an adult, Jon took a position in sales with Latham Pool Products. Eventually, Jon worked his way through the ranks from Sales Manager to Vice President of US Sales for the Latham based company. In 2019, after about a dozen years of sales experience, Jon was given the opportunity of a lifetime.
Mike Giovanone, who purchased Concord Pools in 1980 - which at the time was a small in-ground pool builder, installing about 30 to 40 pools a year - approached Jon Foshee about the possibility of buying Concord Pools and said he would remain on board as the company president and CEO. That was in February of 2019 and the deal, according to Foshee, took a year to complete. On February 28, 2020 the deal was done; Foshee took the biggest risk of his professional life, leaving his high-ranking position with Latham Pool Products, now a public company called the Latham Group (NASDAQ: SWIM) to become the official owner of Concord Pools. Of course, at the time, there was no telling what the future would hold for him or his company. Just a few weeks later, COVID-19 turned the world upside down and Foshee’s new business was mandated to shut-down.
While many businesses like bars, restaurants, hotels and public venues were suffocated by statewide mandates that required closures - remember this was before the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a $953 billion business loan program established through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act was in full effect - small business owners around the state of New York felt the sense of anxiety that was sweeping the world particularly hard. For Foshee, it meant that his Concord construction crews couldn’t visit homes of potential customers - no installations for the months of March or April, which are typically busy times for installers, as buyers want their pools up-and-running before the hot summer months. While nobody could’ve predicted the events that unfolded in the early spring of 2020, Foshee and his team found relief in May, in a major way.
Q. What is your best piece of advice for building a successful business?
A. Surround yourself with positivity. You will never regret hiring a team, smarter and more talented than yourself. You will never have all the answers, and that’s ok. Establish your guiding principles and refer to them when you’re not sure which way to go. Inspect what you expect and be open to criticism. It will make you a stronger leader.
Q. What is your philosophy on life?
A. Balance is everything. Work hard and play hard. Do what you love, and success will follow. Keep in mind that success is measured in many ways. Avoid negativity and, most of all, be kind.
As it became clear that summer vacations weren’t practical in the early months of the pandemic, many homeowners invested in their own property, sparking a nation-wide trend of “staycations” - turning one’s backyard into a place to relax, cook, enjoy time and ultimately, swim. On a single day in May, when Concord Pools was back up-and-running, Concord received over 3,000 calls from curious homeowners. It was the largest single-day boom in the company’s history. “We didn’t run from the fire, we ran towards it,” Foshee told Saratoga Business Report, “I was the new owner of the company, and many employees just knew me as a sales guy, so I was really proud of the work we put in during that time.” Foshee and his team recognized the “staycation” trend that was sweeping the nation, and Concord Pools soon became more than just a pool company. This meant a complete overhaul of their catalog was in order. “Customers wanted grills, fire pits, patio furniture, lighting, saunas, and outdoor sound systems, we had to be the company that could do it all - not work with contractors and third parties for a single backyard project” said Foshee. Concord Pools had to become more than just what their name suggested - a pool company. Instead, the turbulent times in 2020 forced Concord’s hand and allowed them to step-up to the plate in a major way - to become a one-stop-shop for turning homeowners’ ordinary backyards into the backyards of their dreams. “The backyard has been a port in the storm for many people during the past couple years, and we are excited about the future,” said Foshee.
As for what’s on the horizon with Concord, it means keeping their place as a “2022 Top 50” builder in the nation as voted on by Pool Spa News. For Foshee, this means staying abreast of trends in home owning. For instance, as builders incorporate more aspects of “smart homes,” or homes that are conveniently setup where appliances and devices can be automated and controlled remotely, their backyards must also be interconnected. “With technology moving the way it is, we have to stay ahead of the game,” said Foshee. For Concord’s portfolio, this means offering tech savvy products like automated pool covers, backyard lights that can be controlled with phones, and spas that are synced to smartphone applications for easy temperature adjustments. Also, it means becoming more full-service. Foshee and his team are currently in the works for a “pool valet” project. That means Concord experts will visit homes proactively to get buyers’ pools and spas up-and-running for the summer - whether that means general maintenance, filter changes or just overall upkeep. This is especially valuable in an area like Saratoga Springs where many people have summer homes and want their pools up and running before they descend on the Spa for the summer months.
While supply chain disruptions and material costs affected the pricing and timeline of outdoor living installations for Concord in 2021, their outlook going forward is still a positive one. Importantly, Concord has expanded under Jon Foshee’s leadership. While Concord has always brought on seasonal hires for their peak season, Foshee’s team is now up to 50 full-time associates, up from about 35 when he first took over the company in 2020. In peak season this year, Concord employees were totaled at just over 100, up from 90 in 2021.
For more information about Foshee, his team and the Concord brand, visit: www.concordpools.com.