Seven Seas Pools & Spas

Employee buys longtime business 

Brands Carried
Hot Tubs
Hot Spring Spas, Caldera Spas, Freeflow Spas
Swim Spas
Endless Pools
Covana, Convert-A-Lift
SpaGuard, FROG
Other products
In-ground pools

Ron Perkins worked at Seven Seas Pools & Spas in Pennsylvania for about 30 days before he decided he needed total reign. 

“I called [Dan Carroll, the owner at the time,] up and said, ‘Listen, I want full control, and I’m going to take over and get this business in the right direction,’ ” Perkins says.

Looking back, Perkins laughs at his audacity. “If I had a 20-something-year-old kid walk up and tell me that today, I don’t know if I would have listened to him.”

But Carroll had brought Perkins, who had previously managed a Lowes store, in to run the retail side of his business, with the intention of Perkins and his wife Lindsey eventually buying the whole company. Plus, Carroll was preoccupied with the pool construction side of the company and readily admitted retail wasn’t his forte.

“He was willing and gracious enough to give me that control,” Perkins says.

Kim Cione, who has worked at Seven Seas since 1995, noticed a difference pretty quickly when Perkins took over retail. 

“When Ron came along, it was so nice to have somebody to go to,” Cione says. “We became a good team, and he helped me get all the things in place that I thought we needed. And then he brought all his new ideas in, and it all worked.”

Perkins started at Seven Seas in 2010, and the ownership transition was planned for the end of 2024. But COVID accelerated things, and the couple took ownership in December 2022.

 “At the end of your career to create that type of capital for yourself and be able to get out sooner and go and enjoy life, I think it’s great,” Perkins says of Carroll’s early exit.

He believes having a 12-year onramp where Carroll slowly increased Perkins’ autonomy not only made the transition smooth but the transaction as well. Perkins also credits Carroll’s creativity and experience from buying out his mother and brother with getting the deal structured and encourages other owners to be inventive. 

“Who do you have in-house who has the capital to [buy the business]?” Perkins says. “Frankly, none of [your employees] do — that’s the truth of the matter. You have to be innovative in how you structure these buyouts.”

Carroll financed the transaction, spreading payments out over time. 

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“He said, ‘This is what the business is doing, and this is what’s left over after you pay all of your expenses and all of your bills,’ ” Perkins says. “He made sure that there was profit left for me to enjoy the work that I’m doing and gave me an opportunity to have capital to reinvest into the business and keep it growing.”

One big investment Perkins wanted to make right away was remodeling two of the five showrooms, Cranberry and Clarion. “The identity of your business needs to be established by the owner,” he says. “If you are going to be a high-end luxury store, then you have to be committed to that investment and to doing that to your showrooms.”

He took inspiration from the attention to detail of Disney, which his family visits often, and from other Watkins dealers he’s met. In particular, he fashioned his experience rooms after Backyard Leisure in Indiana. 

“That’s part of the benefit of networking with your groups, you get to see and do a lot of different things,” Perkins says. He spruced up the showroom dress code, too. 

“He started getting the stores looking good and us looking good and moved on from there,” Cione says.

Perkins says no matter what your showroom looks like, the people are what’s most important. 

“Ron is always looking for new things, new adventures,” Cione says. “He’s not afraid to try something. If it doesn’t work out, no big deal. We move on to something else.”

Having new things to try and facets of the industry to learn about is why Perkins thinks people stick around the pool and hot tub industries for so long. 

“I get now why people don’t leave because there’s so much that you can do that’s interesting,” he says.

For people buying an existing business, Perkins has some advice in those critical first years. 

“Take the first year or two and learn how to be an owner,” he says. “Learn how to run the back end of your business. If it’s a successful business and profitable, don’t be in a rush to reinvent the wheel.”

To learn more about the story of Ron Perkins and Seven Seas Pools & Spas, listen to episode #111 of The SpaRetailer Podcast.