Gib-San Pool and Landscape Creations takes client love to a whole new level
Photography by Ian Crysler
Gib-San Pool and Landscape Creations, located in Toronto, does things a little differently than most in the hot tub industry: It owns its buildings, inventory, vehicles and even its phone system.
“We like to tell our clients we really have skin in the game,” says Ed Gibbs, owner of the company. “It’s philosophically different, and you need the money to have that opportunity, but we feel that is the best approach to give the client that confidence level.”
Gib-San has been in business for more than 50 years, starting as an in-ground pool company and opening a retail store about 20 years ago, which it calls Gib-San Pool and Hot Tub Centre. Hot tubs quickly became a part of its retail strategy.
“As we expanded and grew, we realized our clients wanted hot tubs,” Gibbs says.
Another differentiation, the company has two ISO certificates (ISO 9001:2008 for quality management systems and ISO 14001:2004 for environmental management systems) and the OHSAS 18001 certificate for health and safety, a claim no other builder in the industry can make.
“That is a big part of our success — caring about the environment, caring about the health of our employees and our clients, and of course the quality product the client is receiving,” Gibbs says.
Their client-focused culture makes its way into the company’s pay structure as well, meaning everyone is on salary or hourly wages.
“Because there are not commissioned sales people, it makes a difference in the sales process,” Gibbs says. “Our approach is that employees should have health care, dental, a proper salary and a paid uniform — they are coming to work ready to the serve the client. If employees come to work with the stress that they have to make the sale or they won’t make their mortgage payment, it’s a disturbance to the client.”
Gib-San didn’t get to this place overnight. It’s been an evolution during its 50-year existence to develop the systems, ideology and funds to be able to run in this manner. Gibbs wants to make sure they are constantly improving and doing things right the first time. “We have everything to lose by doing it wrong,” he says.
“You look at so many businesses: What they really are are firefighters,” Gibbs says. “They’re not necessarily in the pool business or window business or roofing business; they’re putting out fires. We’re based on having the processes in place. Not just the people — but the process. We can interchange people, but from the client perspective it’s always seamless. It’s about preventative and corrective measures rather than crisis management.”
Even if the people are interchangeable in the system, that doesn’t mean they aren’t important to Gibbs or the company.
“It’s really a privilege and an honor to work in such an amazing industry with such amazing products,” he says. “All they do is bring joy to people’s lives and health and safety. I feel very blessed with the employees and clientele that we have.”
Gibbs’ son Connor and daughter Caley work in the company now as well, just as Gibbs did when his father, Edward Gibbs Sr., started it half a century ago. His wife, Colleen, oversaw the retail operation for 18 years and is now semi-retired.