Time Machine Hot Tubs began with a simple goal: to help others feel their best and relax. General manager Chris Ogden came up with the company name during a conversation with his parents after attending a pool and spa show in 2009. “I thought, man, time machines, that’s what we sell,” Ogden says. “These products, they help you look younger, feel better, live longer. And I said to myself, if I ever get a chance to [name a] store, I’m going to call it Time Machine Hot Tubs.”
In 1999, Ogden was working in the health food industry when he found himself unemployed. He focused on what he truly enjoyed and thus began sending resumes to cigar, ice cream, whiskey and golf club manufacturers — until he heard a radio ad about a regional sales manager position opening at Watkins Manufacturing. Although the position filled before he could interview, the company was in the process of opening a Hot Spring retail store in Texas and offered Ogden a position. “Next thing I know, I spent 16 years selling hot tubs [at that store],” Ogden says.
When the owner of that store died in 2015, Ogden decided it was time to go out on his own. His best friend from high school, Clark Maloney, contacted him about purchasing and running a machine shop in Longview, Texas, Ogden recalls, but the asking price of $11 million was more than he was willing to spend. Instead, Maloney and Ogden started Time Machine Hot Tub for less than $150,000.
Maloney is the owner and president of Time Machine Hot Tubs, and Ogden serves as general manager. The duo’s plan is to have a central location in Longview, Texas, with four satellite stores. The Longview location opened in May 2016 and a second location in Tyler, Texas — called Time Machine Spas — opened in December 2020. Their third location will open this summer in Broken Bow, Oklahoma.
“If you’d asked me when I was a young man, would I still be in east Texas where I basically grew up, and would I be selling high-quality hydrotherapy machines to the public to help enrich their lives, I would have said no, not me,” Ogden says. “But here we are. And you know what, life’s pretty good.”
Ogden says that as of 2018 or 2019, consumers have adopted a widely held view that a hot tub brings value to their lives. But despite his company’s growth, there have been more than a few setbacks. The first couple of years, it was hard for Ogden to find employees who shared his work ethic and commitment to customer service. Thankfully, the right combination of individuals came along in year three, he says, which helped business take off and continue to provide growth opportunities in the region.
That’s not to say the company hasn’t had its share of difficulty during the pandemic, specifically working around rising prices. “If you’re buying a hot tub today for $7,000, it’s not the same quality you were getting a year or two ago,” Ogden says.
At the start of the pandemic, like many retailers Ogden began selling his floor models, happy to make any sale during those first slow weeks. A friend had pulled him aside and advised him to slow down because manufacturers and suppliers were shutting down, says Ogden. “There’s not going to be any more hot tubs for months, if not years,” his friend told him.
Ogden followed the advice, managed his inventory and has since continued to grow Time Machine Hot Tubs. The company now partners with seven manufacturers to keep up with demand. In adding a third location, Ogden says the company has access to a larger supply as well. “We had to grow in order to survive and entice these big manufacturers to want to do business with us,” he adds.
Adding another store wasn’t the only opportunity for expansion. A planned casino resort in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, has prompted the building of 3,500 cabins in the area. Time Machine Hot Tubs is not only working to provide hot tubs but will also service them. “There’s no real service [in the resort town] and there’s nobody specifically taking care of hot tubs,” says Ogden. “So we see a tremendous growth opportunity.”
Ogden prioritizes his employees as much as his clients. Since the pandemic, Time Machine Hot Tubs occasionally closes early, with a note on the door explaining the store is closed so employees can attend their kids’ baseball games and the like — giving himself and his employees a slice of life back.
“It’s been a challenging but profitable two years for us,” Ogden says. “We’re looking to grow and get the right people in place. We try to take care of our customers, have a good time, but then have a life outside of it.”
Photography by Maddie Vickers
Shout Out to the Team
“My friend of 40 years, former classmate, teammate and the brains behind our organization is Clark Maloney. He has built a successful career supplying machined parts and components to refineries around the world. Always looking to create new opportunities for his friends and family, he provided the funding to start Time Machine Hot Tubs and entrusted me to handle the day-to-day operations.”
Our service manager, Jarrod Joyner, was a lifesaver by taking control of service/deliveries and getting hot tubs delivered at a rate of four or five a day. Kim Zemer, whom I worked with many years ago at the other company, came aboard full-time to run our Tyler store and is a one-woman powerhouse. Matt Younger, a former Bullfrog Spa customer of ours, and his co-worker Jake Gillian, started helping us out a few months ago. We keep them busy five days a week doing whatever needs to be done.
My favorite co-worker of all time and my fiancée, Pene Walters, left her job of 20 years teaching intellectually challenged children and took over as office manager of our Longview showroom. Her organizational and people skills have drastically improved our company’s profitability, and her background enables her to work patiently with her immature boss.”