In a world where sales increasingly happen online, Joe Privett says there’s still room for an independently owned retailer. Along with other family, Privett runs the business his parents started in the 1970s. With a business degree and time spent in the marketing department of a large corporation, you’d assume Privett might be a numbers guy but he’s all about people. His strength is in customer service and communication; he loves to diffuse problems before they find their way into bad online reviews.

Christian Ryan has always been an entrepreneur. He has a background in direct sales as well as financial advising, giving him a unique skillset. He started his business by selling mattresses in the classified ads, eventually selling all kinds of home products in a large warehouse. Now he has a more traditional retail location, although still quite large with an 11,000-square-foot showroom, and mostly focuses on outdoor living products.

When Ellen Friedman — store owner and mother of Sky Matula — was diagnosed with terminal cancer, her son took over her duties to alleviate any further stress that might add to an already-tough situation. Matula brings a fresh perspective to the 44-year-old family business, and sees himself as the team coach. He’s an avid snowboarder and world traveler, sometimes working remotely for several weeks a year. The Hot Tub Store has a strong team in place that allows the company to thrive while having a good work-life balance in place.

Jennifer Clements has 32 years of industry experience. As part of the husband-and-wife team, along with their four sons, who runs Pla-Mor Pools, Clements has helped modernize the business. She got them involved with a buying group, redeveloped the company website and negotiated a deal with an NFL team to provide hot tubs at its training camp.

Smith has been with Luther Stem since 1994. She’s passionate about selling and loves being on the floor with customers. She sold the company’s first swim spa from a sketch she drew before they even had a model in the showroom. A fourth-generation, family-owned business, Luther Stem has been in business since 1962.

Brenda Smith

After working at Olympic Hot Tub for 21 years, Don Riling purchased the well-known dealership from Alice Cunningham and Blair Osborn in July 2016. Riling has worked in all aspects of the company and has been deeply involved in the day-to-day operations for nearly eight years prior to becoming owner. Riling is passionate about helping his customers further their own personal health and well being. He says this unique industry provides an opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life and stay in touch with them throughout the years. He loves that it’s still a business built on human connection and doesn’t think it will become obsolete.