The weather may have turned chilly but the folks at Banks Blue Valley Pool & Spa are still hustling to build water paradises.
The family-owned business has been constructing residential concrete pools in the area since the mid-1960s. And the marketplace continues to grow.
“About seven percent of people in the country have recreational water elements in their backyard,” said Lynn Banks, who owns the business with her husband, Roger Banks. “We’ve built about 1,200 pools over the years.”
Q: Describe your company?
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The Bankses have two components of the business: Banks Pool and Spa Design, which handles the design and construction of in-ground concrete pools and spas, and Banks Swimming Pools, which provides maintenance and repair as well as retail sales from their store.
“Everything is separated in terms of finances,” Lynn Banks said. “There are certainly benefits to both operating together….The retail/service model is more fluid. The construction side is large ticket items and that cash flow is more chunky.”
Ninety percent of the company’s business is pool construction.
“About half include a spa in the project,” Lynn Banks said. “We do sell aboveground spas …(but) we see more total backyard build outs,” including backyard living spaces complete with kitchens and other amenities, she said.
The 3,000-square-foot retail shop and showroom includes pool cleaning supplies, chemicals and parts.
“We have a new construction showroom where we have pictures of our pools and the cosmetic choices such as tile, plaster choices,” she said. “It includes an outdoor kitchen and grill to demonstrate the quality of workmanship we do. It’s also where we have our corporate office.”
Banks said about 60 percent of the company’s gross revenue is from the construction projects, 25 percent service and 15 percent retail.
Pools start at about $60,000.
“The biggest project we’ve done was about $700,000 and it involved a pool house and beyond,” Banks said.
Q: How do you get into business and why?
Roger’s father, F. Jack Banks, started the company in 1964 primarily as a service business opening and closing pools. The senior Banks built only five to six pools annually.
“My father-in-law had some poor health and he wanted to get out of it, so my husband started working for him,” Lynn Banks said. “He just learned on the job.”
The couple bought the business in 1982 and started the construction side.
Over the years, their five children have all taken their turn working in the store. Today, their youngest son, Hoyt Banks, is the construction project manager.
Q: Where do your customers come from?
“We are fortunate that so much of our work is referral,” Banks said. “Folks will swim in a pool and they will be friends and we get the referral. We will put signs out in yards in neighborhoods where we are building.”
Banks also advertises in area magazines and through social media.
“Pools show very well,” she said. “We use social media and our web site becomes important because people can look through the pictures. It is a good value.”
When Roger and Lynn Banks first bought the pool business, they would do projects all over the area. Now they concentrate in Johnson County.
“We found we were losing some time to work,” she said. “We’re building a lot right here so we feel we our giving our customers a better service because we can reach them more quickly.”
One of the hurdles the company faces is the seasonal nature of the business.
“We never know if it’s going to rain everyday for four weeks or snow in May,” said Banks with a laugh.
“We stay busy until the weather deems we can’t. We specialize in in-ground concrete pools and all of it is a masonry product, and frost-proof tile, marble plaster finishes and they don’t set correctly if they start to freeze.”
Crews are usually able to work until December and gear back up in late February or early March.
“The store has helped with the seasonality aspect, keeping us busier longer,” she said.
Q: What’s the future look like?
“I would like to see us add store locations, but we want to support that by buildings near those locations,” Banks said. “Dream of all dreams is that our kids take over.”