The Story of Our Company
My name is Herschel Forester. My primary aim in life and in business is to be a good ambassador of Jesus Christ. My great grandparents came to Dallas in the 1920s. I have a lot of great swimming pool memories. As a 10-year old boy we were on vacation, lodging at The Salado Inn in Salado, TX. A big bumblebee decided to bear down on me so I ran for my life and jumped in the pool with clothes, shoes and socks on. It felt to me like that swimming pool saved my life. I learned to swim in Mr Canaris’ pool. He was my first football coach. What a confidence builder it was to learn to swim and float. What would it be like not to know how to swim? That would be awful. Cindy and I had all four of our boys in swim lessons and swim team when they were young. It was a relief knowing that my boys knew how to handle themselves safely in the water.
Much of my life up to age 20 was centered around football. My uncle and my father both had good careers in the NFL, and I enjoyed playing two years of Texas Jr College football. Among other things, from football I learned discipline, work ethics, what it means to be a part of a team and how important it is to do my part to make the team a success. I learned that talent is trumped by teamwork, attitude, and dedication. I had great male role models in my youth. I always enjoyed hearing outstanding athletes give thanks and credit to Almighty God for the things they were able to accomplish. An organization called FCA, The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, had a great influence on me during the early part of my life. I heard many college and pro football players give testimony of their relationship with God through Jesus Christ and it always resonated with me. In college I began to read and memorize scripture. My faith began to grow. It would take a whole book to even begin to recount the good things that having a relationship with Jesus Christ has brought into my life. One of the things I learned is that whatever I do in life God wants me to give it my best, as though I am working for The Lord and not just working for man. That is why when I opened a pool service company for business I decided the CEO of the company would be Jesus Christ.
I first started in the swimming pool service business as a part time pool cleaner while attending Dallas Theological Seminary. I enjoy working outdoors. I like recreation. I like beauty. I like making something beautiful out of something that is less than beautiful.
Speaking of beautiful, while in seminary I married the most beautiful woman I have ever met. The day our first child was born, I went out on my own and started Forester Pool Service, April 27, 1992.
Raised and trained to be a follower of Christ, I had excellent role models in my two grandfathers, my father and their friends. I listened to my father talk with friends and business associates. I learned from that how important it is to be friendly, enthusiastic, and to enjoy the other person on a personal level and not just business. I witnessed faithfulness and thoughtfulness as character qualities of my mother. She always made sure our family was on time. It is so important to treat our customers and our team members with respect which means being on time. One thing I look at in a prospective employee is whether they are habitually early and on time. I have seen how much our customers appreciate us being punctual. Personally, I still have habits that tend to cause me not to consistently be on time. I am working on that.
At age 20 I had a difficult experience of depression. From that I learned how important it is to hang on to and trust in God in the difficult times as well as the good times. I have been able to get through any difficult circumstances by doing what I learned early in life – rely on God. In following Jesus Christ I have experienced the liberating power and wisdom of the Bible. I like to take scriptures and make them guideposts for my life. There are so many Bible verses that show what real life, as designed and intended by God, looks like. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” Who doesn’t want to have guidance from above? Who doesn’t want to know what is true? And who doesn’t want to experience life and all the love we are searching for? Entrusting myself to Jesus Christ was and is the wisest thing I have ever done. I believe what Jesus said, that He is the way, the truth, and the life. The Bible says that for those who sign up with Jesus, He does not reject them or condemn them, but rather He will work on them and in them to accomplish His good plans for their life. He paid for my sin when He died on the cross many years ago. And He rose from the grave three days later. There were plenty of credible witnesses to that fact who went on to be martyred because they held to the truth of what they had seen, heard and experienced. He now keeps working on me and in me every day. He never gives up on me. What a great model for customer service! Keep on loving your customer, be patient, keep working to solve problems and find solutions.
There is one book in the Bible that has a lot of common sense wisdom that is applicable to any business. That book is Proverbs. I highly recommend reading a chapter of Proverbs each day so in a 31 day month you read them all. Here are a few things that our CEO wants to see in our company:
- Be respectful toward God. That is a foundational attitude and approach to knowledge and wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
- Be diligent in our work (as opposed to lazy, cutting corners, looking to do just enough to get by). Proverbs 12:11 says “A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.” Proverbs 10:4 says “Lazy people are soon poor…”
- Be skilled in our work (learn your trade inside and out, be the answer man, the expert problem solver). Proverbs 22:29 says “Do you see any truly competent workers? They will serve kings rather than working for ordinary people.”
- Be faithful and accountable to God and ASP Dallas as a company. Proverbs 3:3-4 “Never let loyalty and kindness leave you…then you will find favor with both God and people.” Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:11,12 My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when He corrects you. For the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.
This means that the CEO of ASP Dallas (me) must be teachable and correctable before God. And flowing from the CEO and all positions of authority within the company, our corrections must be out of love for our team members.
Well, I could go on and on. The Bible is so full of treasures like that.
In January of 2011, Forester Pool Service became a conversion franchisee of America’s Swimming Pool Co. based in Macon, Georgia. I have been asked many times “Why did you do that Herschel.” The answer is :
- The company had hit a plateau in revenues for three years in a row. It was time for some new ideas and objective input from someone who was sharp and experienced in the pool business.
- I have wished for years for a partnerlike relationship with a smart and hard worker. Sometimes running the business alone felt like something valuable was missing.
- After these thoughts had occupied my mind for some time, I received a letter from Stewart Vernon, CEO and founder of ASP Franchising. He was fishing for a franchisee. After much thought and prayer I decided to join up with ASP. We went to work immediately on what Stewart saw as glaring weak spots.
- What I have received by being an ASP franchisee has been very valuable.
- My financial books are much better and more accurate. I have learned how important it is to know my business well from a numbers standpoint.
- I am a part of a national brand. The name recognition around the country and in Texas continues to grow. Our logo and our processes for running a profitable pool service company are proving successful.
- I have assistance from a dedicated staff in Macon. I receive help on my website, social media, SEO, and marketing decisions. I can consult by phone on a regular basis with a very competent individual to talk over any issues dealing with the company. If I have legal concerns there is a lawyer available for guidance (but ultimately if legal services are needed, I would go to a local lawyer here in Dallas).
- We have benefits from ASP franchising with regard to manufacturers and suppliers.
- I have the opportunity to talk with other successful franchise owners and since we are not in each other’s market we can freely divulge our best practices and try to help each other. As each franchise prospers, ASP as a whole will prosper. We have friendly competition among the owners and that has helped ASP Dallas do our best.
- Finally, my psychological approach to business has been raised to a new level. Just being a part of ASP and knowing that I have support available has helped me reach out and try new things. And we certainly have broken out of that three year plateau. At the end of this year we will have doubled our yearly revenue compared to that revenue on which we had been stuck 4 years ago.
My plan for ASP Dallas is to continue to grow our customer base and increase our quality of service in all areas. Our company will be a great place to work for the following reasons:
- Our team members will be well compensated.
- Our team members will be well trained.
- We will provide a career path for those who want to make a career in the pool service industry.
- We will support each team member in our efforts to deliver resort level quality service every day.
- As the company’s net profit increases, our team members will be rewarded through increased bonus payouts.
- We will have a positive, encouraging, friendly company culture to work in.