Boyce Eldridge enjoys the construction business because every day is a new day.
He has worked in the field almost his entire life, initially as a manager for Brown & Root Inc. in Houston, touring the country building power plants and refineries, and for the past 30 years as a franchisee for Blue Haven Pools in Tyler .
72-year-old Eldridge followed his father and brother-in-law into construction because “I thought this was the cat’s meow to make money,” he said.
He served three years in the US Army, attended Stephen F. Austin State University and graduated from the University of Kansas. He worked for Brown & Root before joining Tyler in 1981. He was Plant Manager for Transient Mix Concrete and through this job met the manager of Blue Haven Pools.
“Before I knew it, we were negotiating to buy the franchise,” he said.
Eldridge acquired the Tyler business in April 1984, not long after it opened here, and added the Bossier City, La. Franchise in 1998.
“I’ve always loved building. It seemed like a different interest,” Eldridge said of the pool industry. “You produce beauty.”
He is proud to have been in business for 30 years.
“We’ve had the same ups and downs as some other industries in Tyler. As the old saying goes, sometimes it’s the chicken and sometimes it’s the feathers,” said Eldridge. “Sometimes it wasn’t easy. … We’ll keep going.”
Blue Haven Pools began in San Diego and now has approximately 60 offices nationwide, 48 of which are franchise businesses. There are also offices in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.
He said the Tyler business builds up to 100 pools a year while the Bossier City franchise builds around 70 pools a year. The two offices sometimes work together to serve clients as far as Paris, south to Lufkin, west to Canton, and east to Monroe, La.
When a customer comes to Blue Haven for a custom pool, the company measures the garden to come up with a design that suits their needs and budget. From design to completion, the company can build a pool in about 45 days, he said.
Some of the most eccentric projects done so far are the construction of a pool in a 5,200-square-foot pool house in Pittsburg and the construction of two interconnected pools – one for adults and one for children – with a gigantic theme for slides and water parks to do so for about $ 500,000 in Athens.
“We design it the way they want it,” said Betty Younger, office manager, adding that customers choose the shape, tile, stone and deck for the custom pools.
Building a pool in the ground involves digging the hole. Steel and plumbing; Gunite, who has to heal for seven days; Tiling and tackling the edge of the pool; Deck and plaster; Equipment installation; Ms. Younger said she would start, fill it up, and explain how to run it.
Eldridge said that while the company primarily builds “family pools,” they also build commercially for homes, hotels and medical therapy pools for hospitals.
They also sell 40 to 50 portable Bull Frog spas a year, as well as pool toys, chemicals, and other supplies. They offer pool maintenance services for the Tyler area, as well as repair services and free water tests.
Ms. Younger said they are not as busy in winter, even though it is the best time to build because homeowners are not outside that much.
Last year, in October, they held their first seminar on building pools in the off-season. Eldridge would like business to be spread over the year instead of having most of the work done in six months – spring through fall.
“We’re big cats in the summer,” he said. “The cash flow is great … but it’s very rough in winter.”
The pool construction industry has remained pretty standard throughout the year. The same materials are used, but their prices have increased, he said.
The “oil crisis” in the 1980s had been severe and over the years they had constantly monitored the economy.
“We’re in a kind of luxury business,” he said. “You can live with it or without it.”
When he bought the franchise 30 years ago, it employed three people. Now there are 19. That includes three service men who have experience in pool repair, water chemistry, automatic cleaning, pool filtration and automated systems. He also has two salespeople without whom there would be no construction, he said.
Eldridge employs 12 people in the Bossier City franchise.
He expects Blue Haven Pools to keep growing because they are aggressive and have good staff. He said he felt what sets them apart is their longevity, size, and service