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From the Garage to a Multi-Store Industry: This Family Business Grows Exponentially

By Elisha Neubauer

When it comes to the pool and spa industry, Aqua Paradise Pools & Spas has been around the block a time or two. Starting in 1979, the business has remained family owned and operated since the very beginning. Keeping in line with that family feeling, Aqua Paradise Pools & Spas has managed to accrue a loyal customer base with their business concept of treating "Every customer like their only customer."

The company started out at ground level, as they tend to do. Run out of the Lawrence family garage, the company was started as Lawrence Pools originally, and consisted of two old pickup trucks and a handful of guys. With five kids in the house ranging in ages from 6-17, the business quickly had to find a new home and eventually was moved to a retail location in Kittery, ME.

A true family business, the oldest of Walter Lawrence's daughters, Angela, ran the storefront and answered phones until she graduated and joined the army. During the summers, each child (once reaching an appropriate age) was taken into the field to learn the ins and outs of the business with a hands-on approach.

Throughout the years, each child spent time working with the business- Angela, who returned to work after her four year army service, Paul, who also spent time in the military, Steve, who had tried his hand outside of the family business only to come back, and Patty, who came onboard in 2002 as a bookkeeper. "I came to work as the bookkeeper, completely unaware of what I was getting into," said Patricia Amergian, manager, "When your family name is on the business you're never 'just a bookkeeper.'

In 1983, Lawrence relocated the shop to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, changing the name from Lawrence Pools to Aqua Paradise Pools & Spa during the move. "The business continued to grow and in 2006 Walter did finally retire and sold Aqua Paradise Pools & Spas and its assets to Steven," explained Amergian.

"Around 2010, Steve bought Florida Casual (another pool company) located on Route 1 in Hampton, New Hampshire and added a second retail store to Aqua Paradise, and in 2015 he purchased the building at 15 Banfield Road where we reside today and the rest is history."

Currently, the family business is being run by Steve and Patty as a combined effort. The company continues to achieve their expectations, growing every year. The pair attributes this success to a lot of great support and advice from their father, in addition to a great set of bankers, accountants, and a troop of dedicated employees.

"Our primary focus is on customer service," stated Amergian. "Although it was our best revenue center, we stopped building in-ground pools in 2009 because the profit margin wasn't what we needed it to be. So we decided we'd make ourselves the BEST pool service and supply company on the seacoast!"

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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