As part of our ongoing "Getting to Know Your Local Businesses" series, we sat down this week with Chuck Blackman, owner of River Rock Pools.
Tell us a bit about your business: What does your business offer, and how long have you been around?
We’re a residential and commercial pool service specializing in new pool construction, renovation, maintenance, and repair. For over 14 years, we have been designing and installing pools with the most advanced and cutting-edge materials and equipment.
Most of our business is in constructing residential in-ground pools and spas. However, we also renovate existing pools and maintain and repair pools, equipment, and decking. We also coordinate the construction of custom outdoor kitchens, pergolas, and gazebos.
How did you decide to get involved in this line of work?
I’ve been around water and pools my whole life. Growing up in Michigan, I became involved with swimming and diving in high school and college, where I got a half scholarship for diving and swimming. I then went on to become a coach and teacher at Central Michigan University.
I got my start in the pool business when the university closed the program, and I came to Texas. Initially, I worked on remodeling pools for country clubs, supervising lifeguards and maintaining subdivision pools while coaching and teaching.
In 2006, I started River Rock Pools after getting to know the guy that built my pool for me. I decided to retire from teaching and coaching, and we started the business together. In 2010, I took over the company and have continued to enjoy creating what my customers want.
Tell us a couple of things that you are proud of in your business. What are you known for? What separates you from the competition?
I take pride in taking care of our customers. Even past the warranty, we do our best to help our customers with issues that arise whenever we can. We make sure that our customers know their needs are important to us, and we take the time to really get to know them.
Unlike a tract pool builder, where the customer may feel like just a number, we design and customize each pool. We keep the customer informed throughout the process, as well as after the project is completed. That's what sets us apart from other pool installers; we cater to pool owners' growing population while never losing the personal touch that has defined our business for years.
What is your favorite part of running this business?
I enjoy the personal side of the business, especially interacting with my customers. As a teacher and coach for 35 years, I love working with people. Throughout the construction process, which can take a couple of months, I get to know my customers very well, and many times we become good friends.
I also really enjoy the design aspect and using my architecture skills. I take the time to listen to what my customer wants and work with them to get the design they desire.
Who is your ideal customer/client? Who do you serve best?
We serve homeowners in the Kingwood, Humble, Atascocita, Huffman, The Woodlands, and surrounding areas. Our ideal customer is anyone who wants a custom pool built or to remodel their existing pool.
Our customers range from business owners constructing a pool for a hotel, school, community center, to a homeowner dreaming of a pool for themselves, family, and friends to enjoy.
Is there any other information you'd like your potential customers/clients to know about your business?
We guarantee that the pools we build are durable, beautiful, and will last a lifetime.
We offer customized design equipment, freeze protection for the winter, plumbing for heating the spa and the pool, and low voltage lighting, which, although more expensive, is safer than standard lights.
We can even add home automation so that you can start heating your pool or spa from a remote location and enjoy it by the time you arrive home.
How do you see your business growing and improving over the next couple of years?
Even with the hardship of 2020, we saw tremendous business growth. With families looking for ways to spend quality time at home and outdoors, we had an increase in demand, even in the fall and winter months. However, we experienced problems with gunite availability since the companies that I work with had staff impacted by the pandemic.
At one point, we ended up losing almost two-thirds of our customers due to the shortages. Finally, things are improving, and we are getting caught up. We were fortunate to gain several customers during the winter months, which are typically slow for the pool business. I hope to continue expanding and plan to eventually bring someone on board to help me with operations.
To learn more about River Rock Pools, visit our profile at Kingwood.com