Pool tech success: a Q&A with the 2016 Service Technician of the Year
Paul Rojahn is no stranger to the SPASA Awards of Excellence: he was the 2016 Pool & Spa Service Technician of the Year for both Queensland and Australia, the 2015 silver award winner (and Queensland gold award winner), and his business Atlantis Pool Services won silver as the 2016 SPASA Queensland Pool Store of the Year.
Pool+Spa: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Paul Rojahn: I have been offering professional pool services since high school, first working in my family’s hardware business in Boondall, until my parents’ retirement in 2005. At that point, I continued on with the pool servicing side of the business, operating a mobile service with an already-established client base. I opened my own family pool shop in 2013 and have continued to expand and grow the client base.
P+S: What challenge do you think the pool industry is currently facing?
PR: The ever-changing array of products available on the market for residential pools presents something of a challenge to the pool industry — it’s important to keep up with new developments. It is only with education and training that we are able to keep up with technology and the way to chemically treat pools.
P+S: What do you see as the biggest growth opportunities for the industry?
PR: I think the biggest growth opportunities are in areas of high population density and warm climate, as these areas have the highest number of pools per capita. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Northern Territory and Queensland have the highest percentage of households with a pool (28.9% and 17.9% respectively). The colder climates of Victoria (6.5%) and Tasmania (3.8%) recorded the lowest ratios of pools to households.
As a result, the coastal regions of northern New South Wales and Queensland are home to a disproportionately high number of the industry’s establishments. These regions are some of the fastest-growing areas in Australia, so they are key to the industry’s growth.
P+S: What do you think will drive change in the industry?
PR: I anticipate that natural pools will create significant change in the industry. These pools, with features reminiscent of nature, are becoming increasingly popular in Europe and Australia. The water treatment system, which uses plants to purify the water, reduces chemical use, as well as creating the feeling of swimming in clean, clear, natural water — something that appeals to many pool owners. However, this will change the landscape for chemical suppliers to the residential market, which will have an impact on the industry overall.
P+S: What do you love most about the pool and spa industry?
PR: Working and spending time outdoors. I find that breathing fresh air and enjoying the surrounding nature improves my focus and performance. When you enjoy the outdoors, it improves your mood, as well as reducing stress, anxiety and depression. It has also been proven to reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone that is released when the body feels stress.
My work also increases physical activity and gives me a chance to socialise, creating positive experiences. The social interaction with customers is one of my favourite parts of the job and, as a skill, it leads to better communication both at home and on the job.
P+S: What has been the key to your success?
The key to success is having a good support system in place — this includes staff, suppliers and industry bodies. Of course, product knowledge and a deep understanding of the work is also vital. I believe the key to my success is providing quality service, good support, expert advice and professionalism in all facets of my work, from water testing to in-shop service to pool equipment installation and on-site pool maintenance.
What has helped me grow professionally is the ongoing learning that the pool industry provides — no two pools are the same. I like to take on new challenges; read articles about changes in the industry; invest in my own professional development through training with dedicated training providers, suppliers or online training; and I like to surround myself with like-minded industry peers. Having a strong network of peers is important.
P+S: What advice would you offer to someone starting out in the pool and spa industry?
PR: The pool industry is filled with knowledgeable, experienced people, from suppliers to industry bodies. They are a great source of information, support and training — learn from them!
Education is vital to the future of the industry — everyone needs to make sure their knowledge is up to date, from pool builders installing equipment and maintaining chemical balance, to service techs repairing equipment, to retailers testing water chemistry. Education is also key to ensuring that we can advise pool owners on how to have a hassle-free pool so they can work less and swim more.
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