Tuesday, February 25, 2014

He's my partner?? "From Classroom to Pump Room" Part: 6

I didn't quite have a plan, but by the third summer, incredible as it seems, we were asked to take on a few more pools. Amazing!! So, we went to our next phase which was to hire some of our student athletes, who we knew were great kids, to clean the pools. I also ran an ad in the local newspaper in the help wanted section looking for people with pool experience. Sure enough, I had a number or responses to the ad. Boy, was that ever interesting. Every weirdo that ever was in a pool responded with varying degrees of expertise and just plain baloney. One guy though, a young married guy, responded. He had been working in one of the mountain ski resorts, had been sent to pool classes and had been repairing the resort's pool and spa. He and his wife were relocating to Denver and his plan was to start his own spa business. We met with him and explained that we had no intention of starting a spa business, and that he was free to do that if he would moonlight as our pool repair guy. He needed the money, we needed someone to work for $20.00 an hour instead of the $60.00 an hour we had been paying the other pool company. Heck, now we would charge the $60, pay him $20 and pocket the rest. Sweet!!! Again, the plan was, he would do our repairs using our wholesale parts, which we then charged retail for, my partner would be with him learning about pool repairs. Sounds like a plan, right?? Well, it would have been had my partner not been battling some demons of his own. Looking back, as mad as I was at this young guy, and how I thought he was a complete pirate at the time, I now realize that my partner left us ripe for the picking. How? He never went with this young guy. Instead he trusted him to be honest and ethical. He trusted him that is, until this sonofagun replaced us at two accounts. He stole them right from under our noses. I remember pulling up to one of these accounts as this young pirate was there meeting with a board member. They both looked at me as I exited my car and walked toward them. I swear, they both looked like they had seen a ghost and were fully expecting me to walk up and deck the guy or pull out a weapon. Instead, I just walked up and verified that he had taken the account. The board member stated something along the lines of, "Well, he was the one my partner had said to call." Yup that's right. My partner went and told this board member to go ahead and call our employee!!! I was so pissed I could hardly move. I confronted my partner and he hemmed and hawed, but it was at this time that I was finally seeing that my partner was, ugh, LAZY. He wanted the money, he wanted to tell people how he owned a profitable business, but he was too damn lazy to actually see that we were still in the infant stages when a parent has to watch every step carefully.  About this time, I began to notice something else. My partner would have lapses in memory, he would lie about communicating with property managers and homeowners, and lastly, he little by little was showing signs of a drinking problem. Later, this same summer, I answered a call from a community manager at one of our pools. He told me that the board had decided to fire us due to poor response. He went on to tell me that he had called my partner numerous times, left messages, all regarding an issue with one of the rest rooms at the pool. All my partner had to do was respond. He needed to call him back, fix the problem himself, find a plumber who we would pay full price to fix it, any of those. Instead, he was paralyzed with alcohol. He just stopped functioning. Of course, when I confronted him he had the usual excuses. But he knew and I knew that I was more than holding up my end of our deal. His deal went from making repairs, to being on site watching someone make the repairs, to at least making the call to have someone make the repairs and see that it got done, to doing none of those. And still, at the end of the summer, we made more money than we ever should have. Begrudgingly, I shared the profits with him 50/50. The point here is, while he was screwing me over, though alcohol was to blame, I was the real idiot. I was so loyal to him. For God's sake, he had a classroom right next to mine, he helped me finish my basement, I coached basketball with him, we were a team...not.

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