By BOB LEWIS
Summer swimming season is right around the corner.
That means water-loving families across the region will soon be counting on the products and tender loving care provided by the folks at Carr Pool & Spa Supplies.
The family-owned business was founded by Tom Carr in 1979 shortly after he and his wife, Lana, decided to have a swimming pool built in their backyard. After digging down about four feet, the contractor they had hired for this project hit water – and much to the Carr’s dismay, he hit the road at the same time.
Lana says she pumped out that hole every day for a month waiting for the man to return. Things looked especially grim when he could never be found in his office and refused to return phone calls.
Finally, after considerable looking, Tom was able to track down the contractor who admitted he had no idea how to fix the problem. “Well, I do,” Carr replied. “Get that backhoe operator back out there and I’ll take care of it.”
Take care of it, he did. And after months of frustration, the family was finally able to enjoy their beautiful new pool for the first time on Labor Day.
After seeing how well that project turned out, Lana’s brother asked Tom to help him build a pool in his backyard. A number of friends and neighbors saw what was going on and followed suit. And from there, she said, things kind of snowballed.
After building a sizeable customer base, Carr was asked why he hadn’t opened a retail store to sell needed chemicals and supplies. “Why not?” he asked himself before recruiting his wife away from Broken Arrow Public Schools to join him in this adventure.
While he no longer builds pools, Carr remains the company’s “Mr. Outside” handling tasks such as openings, closings, vinyl liner replacements and equipment repair and replacement. She is “Mrs. Inside” managing the company’s 2,500 square-foot store at 301 N Aspen, overseeing its popular water analysis operation and helping customers get the best results from the wide variety of chemicals the outlet stocks.
Daughter Melissa and her husband John Korzelius are central figures in the operation, and their children, Dominic and Ben Korzelius and Hannah Neely, continue to play important part-time and summer months roles.
While their immediate plan is to “keep on keeping on,” when the time comes for the company founders to retire, the Carr family heritage will continue under the management of John and Melissa.
Today, Lana estimates well over 80 percent of the company’s business comes from repeat customers. This loyalty has been won in a variety of ways. Number-one is the friendliness and expertise of the Carr staff.
Their willingness to take the time, even during rush periods, to fully answer questions is frequently mentioned. One customer echoed the feelings of many when he noted, “I am a fish out of water (pun intended) when it comes to keeping my pool in top working shape.”
Maybe it was because of the unpleasant experience Tom and Lana had early on, but Carr Pool & Spa Supplies continues to focus on one central goal: help patrons enjoy their pool or spa with as little fuss as possible. While that sounds simple, it often means relying on a depth of experience and going well above and beyond expectations.
That is a hallmark of this business that has remained solid for more than four decades.
By BOB LEWIS