Power Women: Melissa Deverell & Becky Smith

The Sister Bosses

The Sister Bosses
Melissa Deverell & Becky Smith
Cambridge Pool LeisureScapes
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

In 2018 when Melissa Deverell and Becky Smith purchased the hot tub store their parents had owned for 17 years, the subcontracted crew didn’t take kindly to the news that two women would now be running Cambridge Pool.

“They didn’t want to listen to our suggestions to make things better, faster, easier,” Smith says. “They basically stuck it to us and said we didn’t know what we were doing.” While that first year was rough, Deverell notes that most customers remained loyal, trusting that the sisters would continue their parents’ stellar legacy.

“My mom is a strong businesswoman who doesn’t take crap from anybody,” Smith says. Nevertheless, Deverell adds, “I didn’t know if I could do this.”

The sisters’ parents, Anne and Bill Grayston, purchased the business in 2002. Although law enforcement was her original plan, Smith quickly became integral at Cambridge Pool, with chemistry and mechanics being her strong suits. 

Smith was wanting to buy the business, but her parents were not yet ready to retire. In 2012, she left to pursue another career. Meanwhile, in 2014 Deverell quit Toyota after 15 years of doing factory work to learn the hot tub business, anticipating she and her sister would team up when the time was right. Deverell’s instincts proved accurate when in 2018 Smith returned to the business, at which time the sisters bought the company.

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“Becky and I had a big conversation: Can we do this? Should we do this?” Deverell says. The two worried for a time that the stress of ownership might erode their relationship, but their complimentary natures quickly erased that fear: “We are best friends now,” Deverell says. “We are two different, very strong women.”

Since she’s newer to the industry, Deverell says this is the first year she feels “extremely confident” and is not questioning her abilities, which she credits to her mom and sister “pushing me and being there for me.” 

The store’s spa sales over the past two years are their highest ever, and they are aiming to keep those numbers up despite rising costs and the return of travel that had halted during COVID.

They’ve also changed up their interview process in the hopes of enticing more women into integral, detail-oriented positions. If they apply for retail, Smith and Deverell may casually let slip that the service department is also hiring. Not to knock the guys, Deverell says, but women “pay more attention to the messes. They remember to fill out work orders. They lock the gate when they leave.” 

There are so many roles for women in this industry, Smith says, and opportunities that play to anyone’s strengths. “We want them right there with us, making decisions,” Deverell adds. “It does a lot for women to see us in this environment. We’re killing it, and we’re loving it.”