Letter From The Front
Soldiers get their swimming orders.
"It was just a matter of time before the military put me to
work on pools," writes Maj. James F. Stearns, III. "Stearns
Pools & Spas has officially opened a branch office in
Baghdad." Stearns, a reservist with the 450th CML BN, is
spending the summer — and perhaps the rest of the year —
at Camp Slayer in Baghdad as part of the 1,500-member Iraq
Survey Group (ISG).
Charged with opening one, possibly two, pools for the enjoyment and morale of all personnel assigned to the ISG, Stearns
rallied a group of volunteers and got to work on one of the five
pools within the compound. "The first pool we tackled is right
next to a building that the locals have told us was Saddam's personal residence at this compound," writes Stearns. "It's safe to
assume that Saddam himself used this pool, because he reportedly liked to take a morning swim almost every day."
Stearns and his crew had to contend
with a host of challenges. They figured
out and mapped the plumbing system
and cleaned filters that contained more
rocks than sand. They worked in a subterranean tunnel system where the pool
equipment was located, and then wired
the system for electrical power from a
generator. "I failed to ask Ray Arouesty if
my IPSSA insurance has a war clause or
would even cover a project of this magnitude," writes Stearns.
Once the technical challenges were
squared away, Stearns had to create a
"Pool Operations" manual covering
everything from certification of lifeguards to hours of operation, maintenance, pool rules, safety equipment,
schedule of unit swims and a policy letter. "One of the safety issues was a fence
around the pool," he writes. "We took
care of this by using good-ole Army concertina wire around the pool as our
fence." The grand opening was the 4th
of July, and the pool has been a welcome
oasis for the troops.
Stearns is grateful to Occidental
Chemical, AquaChek, Zodiac and
General Pool Supply, companies that
have already donated needed supplies. "I
am sure this list will get longer," writes
Stearns. To donate to the Camp Slayer
pool project, contact Stearns at
Hot Tub Debut
The happy swimmer in the Winnie The Pooh
suit who graced these pages two months
ago was none other than assistant editor
But because so many of you guessed
that the bathing beauty featured in July's
Splashback was AQUA's editor, Kirstin
Pires, we thought we'd show you what she
really looked like in her formative years.
This snapshot captures her first "hot tub"
experience. Now, can you guess what year
the photo was taken? A free AQUA t-shirt
goes to the first reader who emails the
correct answer to editors@aqua
Business Valuation: A Basic Explanation
Do you know what your business is worth? You should.
Owners of small businesses, which make up the vast majority of spa and pool dealerships and service companies, don't
usually take the time to find out what their companies are
worth. They're busy selling pools, products and services and
often don't realize the potential value
of a business valuation.
But that's often a mistake, say the
authors of What Every Business Owner
Should Know About Valuing Their
Business, a new book written by three
experts in the field in language it
doesn't take an MBA or CPA to decipher. In fact, it made sense to this magazine editor.
The process of business valuation is
covered step by step, beginning with
answers to the questions, "Who should
have their business valued." and, perhaps more importantly, "What is business valuation."
A business valuation is simply a
process for estimating the price a willing
buyer would pay for a business and a seller would accept. While many spa and pool
dealerships will never be sold, the information can be crucial when the owner is
going through a divorce, is placing the business into a family trust, or when an owner dies and the family needs to
know the value for estate tax purposes. And businesses with
more than one owner need to be valued in the event one
partner wants to buy out another. In each of these cases a
valuation can be mandatory.
But if a valuation isn't mandatory, how does one know if
it's worth paying the $5,000 to $25,000 a valuation can
cost? Simply put, a business that's very
small and doesn't generate more income
than it pays in expenses has a value of
$0, making a valuation a waste of
money. But if the business takes in more
than it pays out in expenses, including a
"normal" salary compensation to the
owner or owners, a valuation might be a
Still not sure whether valuation
would be valuable to you. Well, for a relatively modest investment in a paperback book, you can find the answer to
that question and learn enough to successfully manage a valuation should
you choose to have one done.
Authors Tim Sullivan and Stanley
Feldman are professors of finance at
Bentley College in Waltham, Mass. Roger Winsby is president of
bizownerHQ, and has served as directed several major market research studies for financial service companies.
What Every Business Owner Should Know About Valuing
by Dr. Stanley Feldman, Dr. Timothy Sullivan
and Roger Winsby
is published by McGraw-Hill,
Splashes Of Color
Houston artist known for lively art and philanthropy.
Like others before him who've
been captivated by the ebb and
flow of tides and water's unique
translucence, Houston artist
Kermit Eisenhut has also found
water a worthy subject. These colorful and whimsical paintings of
pools and swimmers exemplify
his vibrant style.
Eisenhut is best known for his
paintings of farmhouses, pools
and animals — cats, dogs and
even chickens — and for creating
palette-knife renderings of
abstract, realistic and surrealistic
subjects. The versatile artist has
done everything from painting
murals to designing stationery.
According to an article in
OutSmart magazine, Eisenhut
says his inspiration comes from a
variety of sources in contemporary
culture: "I'm constantly perusing
different art and design magazines,
TV and movies to see what's new and
exciting. Sometimes, just looking
through at the view across the city
will spark an idea. So often, though,
my paintings evolve from my sketches. Or, I may just jump onto a painting to see where it will lead me."
Eisenhut is also known for his
charitable contributions. In recent
years, fundraising events in Houston
are seldom held without a donated
Eisenhut, and he teaches free art
classes for people with terminal illnesses at area hospitals and the Art
League of Houston.
Eisenhut says he donates so much
of his time and art because by doing
that, he's able to raise more than he
could give. "A painting of mine may
raise $1,000 or more and that is so
much more fulfilling for me than just
writing a check."