Not long ago, I came across a blank page of checks for AAA Pool Supply and Maintenance. In 1966, I worked for a pool company as a “go for.” I learned how not to treat a customer and how to pad a bill. I also learned the importance of being first in the yellow pages.  Mr. P had named his company after a fictious daughter, ANDREA’S POOL SUPPLY AND MAINTENANCE, placing him firmly in the yellow pages number ONE Pool Supply.  In 1967, I opened AAA (always above my competition).

During my first year in business, suppliers did not want to deal with me.  By my second year in business, they were anxious to serve me.  So how does a 16-year-old run a pool company?  Being creative was the answer.

If the pump quit working. I would take it to “my shop.”  The company I took it to would supply me with a quote for repairs vs. a new motor.  I would tack on my profit and install the new or repaired motor.

If there was a water quality issue, I would take a sample to the city water works.  After claiming that it was water from my tap a few times, the personnel at the city water works realized what I was doing.  They thought that a 16-year-old running his own company was awesome and continued to train me in water management.

My car (back seat removed) was my van allowing me to deliver chemicals to the customer and I spoiled my customers. Most repairs were done within 48 hours. I always made time to enjoy my summer.

AAA actually played a major role in the development of LZFTC. The premise of available when you needed me, and the quality and variety of service, served my patients well.  The most vital lesson of all I delivered was that no one knows everything.  When you don’t know the answer, find it. Don’t resort to deception and bullshit. When I started with “Andrea’s”, my teacher was the king of b.s. When I opened AAA, I used a moderate amount b.s. to cover what I didn’t know while I concentrated on delivering a quality product.

By the time I opened LZFTC, I had my formula for success worked out in detail.  I was going to be open seven days a week and see patients on a first come first served basis.  I would give them all the time they needed.  It worked!  The attorney had convinced Renee and I that we would need a $300,000 line of credit to handle our first year’s losses. The hospital and local docs also expected that I would fail.  Sorry guys, we never borrowed any money as we were profitable from day one.

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