Dan Henry kept expenses low to start, and now business is booming
Photography by Richard Yerkes
Dan Henry graduated from college with a degree in printing technology management. He went to work in the family business, running printing plants for 15 years. (You don’t have to tell a magazine how that industry can be, well, difficult.) Henry saw the writing on the wall and started helping a friend sell hot tubs at shows on the weekends, while still working full time — a side gig that lasted five years.
Then 2008 hit, and hot tub dealers started struggling. A Master Spas territory opened up — the only brand he wanted to work with — and Henry started Horsham, Pennsylvania–based East Coast Spas, in 2009. “It happened to be a time when nobody else was coming up with any plans,” he says, “other than just to survive.”
Henry started out as a one-man band, keeping his expenses as low as possible. He operated out of a warehouse, mostly selling from home shows and other events.
“I started out with modest expectations,” Henry says. “The first year and half, I pretty much loaded or unloaded every hot tub, talked to every customer, did all the bookkeeping, did everything.”
East Coast Spas grew double digits year over year, and in 2012 Henry opened a retail location. His unique showroom was originally custom built for the Burpee seed company, which for a short time tried to sell direct. Another hot tub retailer used it for a bit, but it had been empty for a handful of years before Henry moved in. “It’s a perfect space for a hot tub showroom,” he says.
“I was very nervous about adding employees and losing that control where I was doing everything,” Henry says. He brought on Kelly Kirby to manage the store. She didn’t know the hot tub industry, but had retail management experience and the kind of personality Henry wanted his customers to remember.
“That has been one of the best decisions I’ve made,” Henry says. “She makes my life easier, and I’ve been able to add other key employees. If you get people you can trust, treat them well.”