Aqua Quip

Business synergy

Multiple Locations
Owners: Brian Quint, Kathleen and Erik Carlson
Nine stores in the Seattle metro area

When you talk to Brian Quint about the success of his company, Aqua Quip, you will probably hear the word synergy. The business started as a lumber company ran by his grandfather, and when it was taken over by his father and mother they started carrying pool supplies. And now, with Quint at the helm, it is a pool and spa company that also sells hearth fireplaces, wood stoves, gas insert products and barbecues.

“It’s all basically to evolve our product offering to help us make sure we’re going to be here for a long time,” Quint says of this business development. “We’ve got to always be thinking about what’s next. Where are the synergies between these products that fit what we do best as a company?”

Quint also found synergy with a competitor and ten years ago joined forces with Kathleen and Erik Carlson combining their companies into an eight-store enterprise.

“We felt that we as a group with then eight stores would have more success long term than competing against each other and sort of fighting the same battles of staff and advertising and warehousing and all those various things,” Quint says.

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Aqua Quip now has nine retail locations, six featuring Sundance Spas and three selling Jacuzzi Hot Tubs, never showing both brands in the same showroom. With that many stores to operate, Quint says the biggest challenges are “communication, consistency and coordination.” To overcome those problems he says the company encourages collaboration.

“Everybody gets to be a part of the process,” Quint says. “Everything, almost to an extreme, is done by committee. Sometimes it’s excruciating because your entire life is spent in meetings, but it’s the only way we know [how] to overcome the challenges of multi-store operations.”

He also says price integrity is especially important as discretionary dollars are disappearing. “Particularly in the hot tub category we’re seeing less customers, we’re seeing less prospects. That just becomes by sheer numbers a major challenge because your sales opportunities are less.” Fortunately, service is strong and the store is still breaking even.

“Even is the new up,” Quint laughs.