Get to know fellow NESPA members and leaders in a new light! Each month we will put the spotlight on a member of the NESPA community. Know someone we should profile or interested in being profiled? Email Kelly McKelvey at email@example.com.
How long have you worked in the pool & spa industry?
I set up our retail store in 1986. My professional background was in advertising and marketing, and I was Director of Advertising for a large auto parts franchise, which gave me great experience in-store planning. I continued to work part-time in our retail & service divisions until joining the company full time in 2001.
How has being a part of NESPA impacted your career?
First and foremost, regardless of whether you're a Chapter or Regional volunteer, the benefits of LIPSA and NESPA's educational offerings make membership really a no-brainer choice. For me, that training has been invaluable. Equally, the contacts and friendships I've made through volunteering have raised the whole level of service we can give. It's the difference between sitting on hold on an 800 tech support line and having the cell phone number of the person who can answer your question immediately. It's getting to know your competitors, sharing regional and industry concerns, and having those extra resources to call on for help and bounce around new ideas.
What is your favorite pool project that you have worked on, and why?
My favorite is still one of the first pools we built shortly after becoming the business's sole owner. It's a small L-shaped pool designed to fit in an extremely tight yard with a huge grade change. There is a waterfall in the retaining wall behind the pool, with a bench under that waterfall. The owner's kids were little at the time, so they felt like they had a rainforest adventure with the waterfall that seemed so big to them back then. Everyone is grown now, and the focus has gone more from waterpark to cocktails on the wide steps. I still enjoy seeing the design and knowing how well it has served that family for many years.
What are the key skills or traits a person needs to be successful in our industry?
I only do residential work, so I feel that regardless of your job description, from maintenance tech to mechanic to designer or builder, keeping the customer in mind is the most important part of each job. We're there to provide them with a luxurious, relaxing experience regardless of the size and cost of the pool itself or their income level. We are located in the fabled Hamptons on the East End of Long Island, but we take care of many pools for hardworking local families as well as the large estates you may think of first. Each client wants the same enjoyment and relaxation from their pool or spa, and it's our job to make that happen. The best staff members can help with that customer service experience.
When you aren't working, you are…?
My downtime is really centered around home. I love to garden and entertain at home. I do a lot of needlework and sewing, which seems to surprise a lot of people. I enjoy the whole process of designing and making things, and I give almost all of it away to family and friends. Most recently, my designer facemasks have been very much appreciated!
Who inspires you?
I am always inspired by my mother's family, who were forced to flee from their comfortable lives in Vienna at the beginning of World War II when my mom was a young girl. My grandparents, my grandmother's two sisters and their families, my great grandparents, and other relatives who could get out all left everything and started over in New York City. They taught us that ultimately it's not what you own, but your family, friends, and value systems are the most important things in life.
If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I really love a dish called Veal Caprina from Villa Paul Restaurant in Hampton Bays. It's completely unhealthy, from buttery to salty to high-cholesterol, but delicious.