Name: James King
Opening Date: 3/5/2012
Location: Fairfax County, VA
Colonel James King served as Marine Officer in the United States military and had been in the military since the early 1980’s. King had a variety of jobs over his nearly 30 years of service and was able to travel all over the world for humanitarian missions, global crisis and served during multiple wars. He had always been interested in business ownership and had been looking for the right opportunity since 1997. After he retired, he wanted to find a small business that he could open in the service industry in Fairfax, Virginia to be closer to his family.
What was your career before franchising? Before franchising, I was a Marine Officer for nearly 30 years. Most of my career consisted of flying a KC-130 aerial refueling tanker and I worked my way up through the Marine’s. I retired as a Colonel from the U.S. Military and then spent some time working for a defense contractor as a senior strategic policy and program analyst in support of the Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program.
How did you learn about the brand? I had been looking at different business opportunities since about 1997, including dozens of different franchises and other ideas. One of my professors also happens to be a franchise broker and discussed the success of ASP - America's Swimming Pool Company and suggested that I open one in the Fairfax area. What I liked about this specific model was that the company was a mature business but the market wasn’t saturated, especially in our area. There also were tangible results of the work that ASP - America's Swimming Pool Company did and I enjoyed the idea of working outside. Also, the franchise fees were reasonable and I could get the business up and running relatively quickly.
What was appealing to you about joining a franchise system? Why I liked the franchise system is because most of the bugs had already been worked out instead of having to start my business from scratch. Being a franchisee, it ensures you that you are not completely alone, that they are also vested in your business’s success. Some of the bugs are already worked out as you start up a business. They help with the training, marketing and continued education and are equipped to help franchisees with any problems that come our way.
With regard to your previous experience, what skills do you feel helped you in your business? My leadership experience in the Marine Corps makes me comfortable talking to people and finding solutions. I believe it has also imbued me with a good work ethic and professional integrity that customers will appreciate.
Why did you choose to enter this industry? The pool business is reasonably recession resistant. Pool owners still have to keep their pools maintained, pool equipment repaired, and chemicals balanced. People who own pools can usually afford to have their pools maintained, repaired, and renovated, which is why I ultimately decided to go in to this business.
How did you finance your business? I used personal funds, and a “Qualified Plan Rollover Business Startup” process through Guidant Financial.
Are there any prominent industry trends that you are experiencing right now?
Not really any yet as I am just starting, but I expect the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirement that commercial pools are required to have chair lifts will have an impact in the next year.
What are some of your achievements (professionally or personally) that you think will help you along the way in your business?
My experience as a squadron commander in the Marine Corps should help with my being able to keep things in perspective. Also, my combat experience will also help people maintain their composure when things are not going well.