It took 15 months for Coast Spas to find Patricia Diamente, the woman who will replace outgoing CEO Don Elkington, who helmed the company for 22 years. Diamente worked 15 years in consumer bath products and has largely spent her career managing companies, working in sourcing and procurement, branding, operations, manufacturing and retail.
“[The board] was looking for someone who came from the space, who understood the space, but also understood what it’s like to launch things at a more rapid pace, understanding who the main decision-makers are, which is primarily women,” Diamente says. “I’m coming in looking at the hot tub industry with a completely different set of eyes than those who have traditionally been in the space.”
Diamente says she’s hoping to get Coast Spas thinking more carefully about how women make decisions. “How does [a hot tub] blend into the whole [home design]?” she asks. “How does it blend into fashion? Can we turn it into fun? It’s got to be fun, it’s got to be a family space, it’s got to be something that blends into everybody’s lifestyle.”
She started in September, and dealers are already seeing a difference.
“We recently did our dealer meeting,” Diamente says. “We launched products and the feedback was, ‘This is a new…’ Just the way the literature is launched to the type of marketing tools that we’re using.”
And after being led by only the founder, the employees at Coast are welcoming Diamente and her objectives.
“Internally, the team is embracing it,” Diamente says. “They have the freedom to play with it. We have a vision; we have a plan. We know where we’re going.”
To begin this evolution, the company is looking at three things: Brand identity; the target audience and decision maker; and product development.
“If we go back in time, landscaping wasn’t as important as it is today,” Diamente says. “Most people will spend a significant amount of money on their kitchen, their bathroom and then it’s their outdoor backyard space. It’s becoming more of a part of the home, an extension of the home, the indoors to the outdoors. We still have this big, bulky thing. We need to start looking at this differently.”
Taking the job at Coast meant a location change for Diamente, who was living in in the eastern part of Canada, in Montreal, Quebec. “You get older in life and you start to realize, I was on the East Coast all by myself,” she says since the job moved her closer to family.
She overlapped with Elkington for 60 days to help with the transition. “[Don] is his own brand,” Diamente says. “His own personality. For the longest time, [Coast and Elkington] were almost synonymous. The important thing is, for all the years he’s worked so hard to build a great company, he enjoyed it. He’s got health and the financial stability to enjoy it and be proud. I know he’s proud of what he built.” Diamente says she’s excited about the course the company is on and happy about her place in it. Coast is a great size company, she says: Not too small and not too big, but a place where “you can stick your finger in everything. You know that every time you do something, you see the effect. It’s not like steering a big ship, like I’ve had to do in the past. It’s a smaller boat. Change is scary and difficult for everybody. The team is embracing the change, which is important. They want the change.”