Long-time hot tub industry professional sets sights on next chapter
Brian Quint describes his life as one filled with constants, but a longstanding one has come to a close: Quint retired from Aqua Quip in January, handing the reigns to longtime vice president of sales John Antilla.
Quint grew up in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, Washington, where he still resides with his wife, Nancy, whom he met while attending Washington State University in the mid-1970s.
Quint’s parents founded Aqua Quip, a pool and spa company with locations around the Puget Sound area. While Quint always wanted to work for his dad, his parents made him get some outside world experience before joining the family business full time.
After working as a consumer and small commercial loan officer at a bank in eastern Oregon for a stint, Quint started at Aqua Quip in 1978 when the company had one retail store; he focused on selling swimming pool products and performing service and repair work.
The family opened a second store in 1979, a third a year later and a fourth in 1984. In 1985, they decided to add hot tubs. That’s when Quint hired Mike Genova, who later founded Leisure Concepts, to spearhead the company’s growth in the hot tub segment.
“What makes Brian such a special leader in our industry is his desire for relationships, and then following those relationships with unceasing loyalty and commitment,” Genova says. “Simply put, once Brian considers you his partner and friend in business, he’s your partner and friend [in life].”
Over his years at Aqua Quip, Quint held several roles, including manager of the Bellevue store, general manager and president — a title he took over when his father retired in 1993 before his death from cancer in 1995.
What makes Brian such a special leader in our industry is his desire for relationships, and then following those relationships with unceasing loyalty and commitment. Simply put, once Brian considers you his partner and friend in the business, he’s your partner and friend [in life].”
In January 1999, the business merged with Carlson Pool & Spa, bringing the number of Aqua Quip retail stores to eight. “While the Quints and the Carlsons were industry friends for many years leading up to us joining our businesses together,” Quint recalls, “we had varied strengths and styles many thought would be challenging to blend into one business and one culture.”
While those processes were greater than they imagined, Quint says, the company was approached by Leslie’s Pool Supply in 2018 to acquire the business, validating its success. “It was affirmation that our planning; the quality, strength and commitment of our team(s); our focus on professionalizing the organization; and our ability to come together and build a successful and scalable business paid great dividends,” Quint says.
Carlson was also president of the National Spa and Pool Institute when the companies merged, which eventually motivated Quint to also join the board and later serve as president himself.
“I consider the time spent on the board as an incredible growth opportunity for me and a career highlight,” Quint says. “I had the opportunity to meet many other leaders and professionals from all segments of the industry, and was very fortunate to have established deep relationships and friendships with many.”
Quint recalls several challenges, too, the biggest of which occurred during the 2008 financial downturn. Sales for the company dropped by over 25% in 2008, and Quint says it took nearly two years to stop losing money and four years to start growing revenue again.
“[Our comeback was] all thanks to a total team effort, from the forklift driver all the way to my desk,” he recalls. “It took a willingness to share financial information; constant team interactions so that everyone on the team knew our goals and our progress in attaining those goals; and creating a collaborative environment where everyone on the team has a chance to be a part of something special and celebrate our successes. While this was a very trying time in our business and my professional career, the steps we took as a team to ensure the health and stability of the business turned out to be one of my most impactful and rewarding experiences.”
Quint says what stands out the most in his career, though, are the countless people he’s been blessed to work with and meet in what he calls an incredibly rewarding business.
“Brian has been such an instrumental leader in the pool and spa industry, as well as here in the Pacific Northwest,” says Don Riling, president of Olympic Hot Tub, Aqua Quip’s direct competitor in Seattle. “Throughout my time at Olympic, he’s been a gracious competitor and wonderful human being. We’ve had a mutual admiration for each other and the way we do business for years, and my admiration will continue as he embarks on retirement.”
Moving forward, Quint plans to continue sharing his industry expertise, and work on special projects to help Antilla and the rest of the Aqua Quip team for at least the next year. Quint says he’ll support Leslie’s aggressive growth initiatives in the future as well.
Some of Quint’s plans for retirement include serving in leadership roles on the board for Kline Galland Home, a local eldercare nonprofit, as well as on the board for his synagogue. He’s also involved with the family business program at Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics, where he assists business owners as they explore what exits and successions look like within their companies.
Ultimately, while retirement will provide Quint opportunities to relax and explore other passions, he says he will always be willing to help the industry he loves however he can. “It is simply amazing how much knowledge and wisdom one can accumulate gradually over 43 years,” Quint says, “and I am eager to find ways to share my experiences and learnings with others, inside the industry or otherwise.”
Business/leadership books that helped shape Quint’s career:
“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl
“The Great Game of Business” by Bo Burlingham and Jack Stack