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New pool shop splashes into Town Center

By: Art Garcia Telegraph Correspondent
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California’s recession has been hard on small businesses but Gregg Sample said he’s had “no second thoughts” about opening his Gregg’s Pool Works and The Backyard Place in El Dorado Hills in the face of the extended economic slump. The 1,500-square-foot shop in Town Center across from the Target store opened in mid-April, with a Grand Opening held May 14, an event that included a barbecue. Despite the soft economy, “people are still building pools,” said Sample, 48, who started in the pool business at 16 and has been in service and repair since 1996. “I’m confident in what we’re doing because we’re in an area of aging pools. Pumps and filters are going out.” He noted that in a less than 5-mile radius of zip code 95762 there are more than 3,500 pools. “That’s encouraging, right there,” he said. Sample also pointed out that in El Dorado Hills a pool is as much for aesthetics as recreation. “There are people here who have had a pool for 10 years and never been it,” he said. Last week the company dropped its first mailer, a 32-page pool and spa sale catalog and “fun guide” sent to 10,000 residences in El Dorado County and Folsom. Sample said he has a database of 2,500 pools he has worked on in the county. The store has seven employees for both sides of its business, plus two service trucks, with plans to add another pair by year-end. Besides selling pool supplies and equipment, the company provides pool and spa services. The store also has a full canine line that includes life jackets and pool toys for dogs. Gregg’s also does warranty work for all pool equipment manufacturers. Customers who take care of their own pools and spas themselves can bring in water samples for a free chemical analysis. Sample plans to offer free Saturday water chemical classes, probably beginning in mid-June. “Bring in a water sample, use a test kit to test your own water and get a feel for what’s going on,” he said. The shop emphasizes energy savings. “A pool pump averages $100 a month to run,” said Sample. “They’re an investment, but we’re able to bring the monthly cost down to $20. A new variable-speed pump we install will cut pool energy costs by 80 percent. “What most people don’t realize is that a pool pump, in most cases, is the second biggest energy user in the home, averaging 2,000 watts an hour. It’s second only to an air-conditioner,” he said. Sample advises pool owners that any pool repair be done only by a licensed pool contractor, not just someone who has a business license. He also recommends carefully checking the manufacturer’s warranty on any new equipment purchased. Gregg’s is a warranty representative for all major pool and spa equipment manufacturers. Another tip is being certain your pool service person has liability insurance. “Homeowners let us into their backyard. That’s a huge potential liability,” he cautioned. “This should be the very first question a homeowner asks, ‘Do you have proof of liability insurance?’” Sample has preliminary plans to open a second store, this in Folsom, in time for next year’s swim season that begins in May. The local store has an additional 800 square feet of side space that will be used for future outdoor displays. Gregg’s also is leasing 1,200 square feet of warehouse space in the El Dorado Hills Business Park. * * * SHOP TALK What: Gregg’s Pool Works and The Backyard Place Where: 4380 Town Center Boulevard, No. 130, El Dorado Hills 95762 Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday through Wednesday; 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday; 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday. Owner: Gregg Sample Phone: (916) 933-7799