James Frabasilio is the president of Presidential Pools, Spas & Patio, the nation’s largest pool builder, based in Arizona. Since 1991, the company has been transforming backyards, providing custom design and building services for swimming pools, spas and patios in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas.
BusinessInterviews.com: What does Presidential do?
James Frabasilio: In short, Presidential Pools transforms backyards in the hottest region of the country, building places family and friends can gather to play, work out, and just generally spend quality time together.
We are the largest pool builder in the country by volume, meaning we design and build more custom swimming pools than anyone else. To best support total backyard transformations, we also design and build custom spas, carry Master Spas hot tubs, design and build patio decking, and more. This is all for residential customers. We also have a robust commercial division, which has constructed impressive swimming pools, fountains, and other water-oriented structures throughout Arizona.
BusinessInterviews.com: How did you all become the largest pool builder in the country?
James Frabasilio: It wasn’t easy! Our company was started in 1991. Our success can primarily be attributed to three things: putting the customer first, building with integrity, and always being solutions-oriented. All three of these things have helped us to, over 25 years, build a strong reputation in the market.
First and foremost, we are relentless about putting the customer’s needs first and always doing our best to make them happy. Construction is hard; it’s dirty. Pools are complex systems with many moving parts. Putting the customer first means that we invest a lot in education, helping our customers to feel confident about pool ownership and maintenance. It also meant building out a dedicated service department. We do everything we can to make our customers proud to own a Presidential pool.
Second, we refuse to compromise on quality. We are not always the lowest-priced pool builder, but we refuse to use second-rate materials, skip steps, or do anything that may be cause for future concern. Pools are permanent structures, at least in theory, and should be built to last. We only build structure and carry products that we can be proud of.
Finally, our team continues to be solutions-oriented. This isn’t an easy business. We’ve gone through hard times. We have to work our hardest six days a week. I’m most proud of our team because everyone continues to show up with the best attitude, always wanting to do what’s best for the customer and the company, and never complaining about what the effort it may take on their part to make that happen.
BusinessInterviews.com: How did you build such a talented team?
James Frabasilio: Tim Murphy, our founder and CEO, Ken Chandler, our COO, and myself all made a commitment to each other a long time ago. As cliche as it may sound, this company is a family. We only recruited people we’d still want to see every day a decade later. The technical skills have been important, but more than anything, we do not compromise on the culture fit.
This has meant that a lot of candidates don’t measure up, so we’ve become quite resourceful. We hire people from all kinds of backgrounds. We have technical specialists, people with backgrounds in architecture, landscaping, and engineering. But we have plenty of people whose last positions were in the restaurant or entertainment business. They just have to be willing to learn, know to put the customer first, and bring the right attitude.
BusinessInterviews.com: What does your typical day look like as president of the company?
James Frabasilio: I really don’t have a typical day. I spend my days trying to optimize how we are meeting the customer’s needs and supporting my team in executing on that mission. Some days, I’m reviewing market data and new product options. Other days, I’m out in the pool park helping to answer prospective customers’ questions. I promise you this: It’s never boring.
BusinessInterviews.com: What does “innovation” look like in a construction-oriented industry like yours?
James Frabasilio: Our industry is constantly changing. Yes, we still dig holes in the ground, but everything from the excavation process to the pool hardware is always being improved upon. The beautiful thing about innovation in our industry is that it all benefits the end customer.
In the past few years, innovations have included things like Screenlogic, which allows a pool owner to manage his pool from a phone, tablet or computer anywhere in the world, and the in-floor cleaning system, which better energy efficiency, cleaner water, and no more ugly robot vacuums. In the future, innovations will likely include major changes to how pools are designed.
Just because we’re not a “tech” company doesn’t mean we don’t innovate. Quite the contrary, actually. We are always pushing to advance the industry.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for your company?
James Frabasilio: This year is really about harnessing all the data we have about how we operate and what types of customers we attract to optimize how we communicate, what we offer, and how we exceed customer expectations. It’s not “big data,” in the buzzword sense. Rather, it’s gathering a ton of small data sets to make big decisions.
BusinessInterviews.com: Do you consider yourself successful, and by what means do you measure success?
James Frabasilio: I’m lucky to be in such a tangible, visual business. I have thousands of pictures of beautiful results our team has created, and customers send us more every day. So, in that sense, I’m very proud of the company we’ve built and the portfolio of work we represent.
That said, I’m never satisfied. Our team is never satisfied. We never want to become complacent — in how we design, how we build, or how we consider a customer. Every project matters. Every project is an opportunity to do something better. By having that approach, we know that the future only gets better.
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