Fresh approach to compensation, company culture keep Mainely Tubs on top
Jim Van Fleet was looking for an entrepreneurial opportunity in Portland, Maine, a metropolitan area with a population of about 500,000. It was then he discovered that Mainely Tubs, a hot tub business, was for sale. It wasn’t in great shape, but Van Fleet was confident that his diverse business background and fresh perspective could bring it back.
Mainely Tubs has since become the most productive single store in the Watkins Manufacturing network for 12 years in a row. At the annual Watkins dealer meeting this winter, Mainely Tubs won Freeflow Dealer of the Year, Largest Volume Store and the Locksin Thompson Award for the third time.
Van Fleet takes a different approach to his hot tub business than what he sees from others in the industry. His focus is on teamwork, leadership and service versus sales, which is reflected in his noncommission pay structure.
“I think team cohesiveness is a critical path, and a leader is obligated to ensure team chemistry,” Van Fleet says. That allows each member of the team to understand how important it is for him or her to work together on common goals.
Instead of commission, Van Fleet offers bonuses and spiffs when certain goals are met. “If you tie something important to that goal — whether it’s growing your base pay or incentives — there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow because most of the team has met the company’s goals,” Van Fleet says. “That gets distributed according to how well you did against your goals. It’s not as if we operate in a vacuum of ‘commission free.’ ”
Last year, Mainely Tubs moved into a 25,000-square-foot building Van Fleet had his eye on for years. The store had outgrown its original space, even using a separate warehouse in another town because its was being used as service bays and office space. The new location, right across the street, was so desirable that Van Fleet made an offer on it before it was even listed. The investment has already paid off: Sales were up at least 20 percent in 2015. Van Fleet says they may have been a little too conservative in their planning.
“As an employee, the most important thing is your life away from your job,” Van Fleet says. “With the chemistry I promote and the way I lead, if I can create a work environment where people are reasonably happy and productive, that has a fair amount to do with our success. We’re extraordinarily proud to support 40 families in Maine.”