Last August when Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Houston area, Jennifer and Tom Parison, owners of Texas Tom's Pool Supply in Kingwood, Texas, were among the thousands dramatically impacted as chest-high floodwaters wrecked their business.

"We walked into our store the day after the hurricane and the place was full of mud, everything was wiped out and we had almost no inventory. It was devastating," Tom Parison recalls.

Despite the damage and loss, the Parisons managed to stay positive and even keep their sense of humor. "It became a joke that with all this horrible filthy water pouring out of the houses and stores around us, we had pretty blue water flowing out our front door because of all the chemicals."

Immediately after the flood, many of the Parisons' customers began showing up at their store looking for help dealing with their muck-filled pools and flooded yards. Rather than turn them away and focus on repairing, cleaning and restocking their store, the Parisons put their focus on their customers' needs.

"We did whatever we could to help them," Parison says. "We hired extra staff, worked long hours and made sure we took care of their pools as quickly as possible. That time of year you do not want to leave pools stagnant. If you do, you can have serious mosquito issues and related health hazards. We removed debris, vacuumed out their pools and did the necessary repairs. It was a trying time that went on for about two months."

Parison recalls the sense of community and cooperation that replaced the initial trauma in the storm's aftermath. "People really came together," he says. "They'd come by our store and drop off food or water bottles and do whatever they could to help. Some of our employees lost everything and there were people that even gave them money to help rebuild their lives."

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In the months since Harvey, as the Parisons worked to re-establish normal operations, they made a major and somewhat unusual decision. Rather than continue as an independent retail outlet, they decided to change direction and become a Pinch A Penny franchisee. According to Pinch A Penny, the Parisons are the first-ever to make that transition in Texas.

The unusual move came after more than a year of consideration, Parison says, although the timing was to some extent influenced by the need to re-establish their operation after the hurricane. "It was good timing. Whether or not we would have made the conversion with the hurricane or not, I'm pretty sure we would be doing it anyway. We did a lot of research and they're a fantastic company," Parison says. "It was a tough decision but I am confident it was the right decision."

While the conversion represents a major change, Parison says that the core values that made their business a success will always remain firmly in place. "We'll never change our commitment to customer service and maintaining those personal relationships with our customers and the community." 

Eric Herman is Senior Editor of AQUA Magazine.