Service is a little different in the Far North, where 2016 Pleatco Perfect Pool Guy Cory Eagles takes care of pools. There are fewer people and pools per square mile, and the swim season is pretty darned short. But that doesn't mean the service business is any less demanding or rewarding.
Little secret about the Northlands: When you only have six months of warmth, you pack it full. And if you're a pool owner, you don't want to waste a single swimmable day. For a pool service professional, that means that for the sunny months, it's full on.
It's not uncommon to answer calls and visit pools late in the evening. "My customers don't want to have any downtime for the pool, and we don't want them to have any downtime either, so in summer it's really busy," Eagles says. "I'm going seven days a week to keep up."
The company has to make hay while the sun is shining, for once the early fall comes, the outdoor pools close and nobody needs much pool care until spring. "In the winter, we look after some hotel pools, but we really need to make most of our money in the summer season," Eagles says.
Like other service pros based in the North, Eagles likes the on- and off-season dynamic. He opened his service business 10 years ago in Moncton, New Brunswick, earning distinction year after year for determination, great customer service, honesty and integrity. But it was a shaggy dog story that got the attention of the Pleatco judges, and put Eagles Pool Services on the international map.
Cory tells the story best, so we'll just let him:
"Through Facebook and our local news I learned about this woman, Stacey, with a Newfoundland [that's a big shaggy dog] named Rosco who'd had hip surgery. The dog was only a year old, but Rosco was going downhill fast and the vet suggested the last chance for this dog might be hydrotherapy.
But it was November in New Brunswick so there were no outdoor pools open, and there were no indoor pools where he could swim. So I decided to try to build something for him. I started looking for parts. I had some pool panels and a used filter. Highbury Pools, another company in the area, donated a liner, and my supplier here, SCP, helped me out with a pump and heater.
So I built a hydrotherapy pool in my garage. I called Stacey and we brought Rosco over.
One thing we didn't think of, but was really hard, was getting him into the pool. He had lost weight but he was still quite a large dog. We had to figure out how to get him over the 42-inch wall.
So me and my father put up an electric hoist with a harness, and lowered him in.
We just winched him right up and swung him over the water and let him down, and he started swimming right there in the harness.
At first, the vet was a little bit skeptical, and every time Stacey brought the dog in, the vet said she should 'prepare for the worst' — that sort of thing. But he was pretty interested in the pool, so he came out to see it and watch the dog swim, and when he saw it, he was like a kid in a candy store, he got really excited and checked the dog out, and after that he started believing in what we were doing.
We just kept at it, starting slow and increasing the amount of time Rosco would swim each day. And slowly we brought him back. He's a healthy dog today.
When we started Rosco was down to 5 percent of his normal muscle mass, and when we were done he had over 95 percent muscle mass. He was so weak when we first saw him, but today that dog could drag you across the parking lot."
Eagles continues to provide hydrotherapy to dogs in the Moncton area with physical disorders, as well as great service to customers with pool and spa disorders, displaying a selfless attitude which has earned him the industry's most prestigious award.