As a pool technician and business owner in Southern California, Brandon Reed spends day in and day out at your neighbors’ swimming pool. But he’s not just lounging around, nor does he deserve to be referred to as simply “the pool guy”. Brandon has become a master in all things pool-related - from building, installing remodeling, maintaining, and repairing pool equipment. This fascinating profession requires a jack-of-all-trades, borrowing skills from electricians, plumbers, construction, and more to serve America’s favorite and often overlooked home luxury. Listen in as Jeremy sits down with Brandon to learn the ins and outs of owning a business in the pool industry, building and repairing pools, how he found his career, and much more.
Jeremy Perkins 0:00
This is Jeremy and Eric here with Bucket Talk powered by BRUNT. This week we are here with Brandon Reed, aka POOL VOLUTION on Instagram. But before we take a deep dive into the pool technician world, Eric, what's been going on?
Eric Girouard 0:14
This is Bucket Talk weekly podcast where people who work in the trades in construction that aren't just trying to survive, but have the ambition and desire to thrive. The opportunity to trades and construction is absolutely ridiculous right now. So if you're hungry, it's time to eat. We discussed what it takes to rise from the bottom to the top with people who are well on their way and roll up their sleeves every single day.
All right, all right. Since we just celebrated the one year that we talked about last episode, we decided we're gonna do the first team off site so we peel that a day early on the week madana Thursday we trailered up to the ATVs and side by sides in we headed to Franconia notch area up in New Hampshire in a small town called Bethlehem. We went up we had a nice dinner Thursday evening at rest the brewery right good strong cocktails would you say? Yeah,
Jeremy Perkins 1:11
yeah, it was good stuff. It was a blast up there. Beautiful this time of year. I don't know if anybody's ever driven up through the knotch but it's cool seeing the rocks on either side. It's definitely a cool trip especially in the autumn I guess. Oh
Eric Girouard 1:25
yes. Autumn Yep. Fall leaf peepers popping off right now we had ourselves a mean tournament a bumper pool which you did beat me in early on but not now. Two out of three, that's for sure. Oh, and then the next day we carry those trailers up about 40 minutes to Grove 10 and got a ranger from mom's which is a big ATV dealer up there and we set out on the trails in half the team and probably written before half the team never had and that's always how that went Jeremy Yeah,
Jeremy Perkins 1:52
we blew a tire the first five minutes we give Henry control just to show everybody what's going on blows a tire then we got to wait 45 minutes for for another ATV.
Eric Girouard 2:04
Yeah. Typical lesson learned showing off trying to send things sideways, somehow punctures a hole like three inches up on the sidewall which the only way possible is to be driving like a total, totally animal. But it
Jeremy Perkins 2:17
wouldn't have been an ATV trip with us. If we didn't lose somebody for a long period of time. We still will never get the story. But we had to double back on one of our guys and somehow the
ATV was in the woods.
So how'd it happen? what it was good. But I mean, all in all was good. Everybody was safe. Everybody came home healthy, and it was a good team building experience. So I was super pumped about it.
Eric Girouard 2:46
Yep, we live to fight another day. And my guess is the next one will be this winter on higher horsepower machines, snowmobiles, so we'll probably have to sign some waivers and do some insurance type stuff, but
Jeremy Perkins 2:55
I might not get the invite.
Eric Girouard 2:56
And that's true. All right.
Jeremy Perkins 3:06
Today we're here with Brandon Reed. Brandon Reed is a pool technician. goes by the Instagram handle pool. volution Welcome Brandon.
Brandon Reed 3:15
Hey, how you doing? Glad to be here guys. appreciate being on your podcast. Awesome.
Jeremy Perkins 3:20
I'm glad to have you. You got a pretty good Instagram going.
Brandon Reed 3:25
You know, that's what everyone tells me. I don't think of it that way that much. But you know, to me just what I do on a daily basis and you know, we got Gramps involved and and also I don't know if you've seen Gramps at all. Oh, yeah. Yep, yep. No, no, we're just a bunch of boys is having fun brother. Solid is you guys are out of California. yet we're in Southern California. We're about an hour away. We set a Los Angeles. Awesome. So
Jeremy Perkins 3:53
give us a little bit of background about yourself. How'd you get into it? Where do you start as
Eric Girouard 3:57
far back as it makes sense where you grew up as far back as you want to go?
Brandon Reed 4:02
Well, you guys are gonna give me PTSD already. Basically, school man, I was never good at school. I just didn't serve me anything. I couldn't get involved. I just couldn't pay attention. Unless it was something I was interested in. Then I wouldn't know Ace everything. But if I wasn't interested in it, there's no way anybody was going to get me to do something that I want to do. So I graduated high school, went straight to working for my dad who owns a air conditioning heating company and worked with him till I was about 24. And that was right around the 2009 2010 rate when everything took a dive, you know, the boom with the housing market, and yeah, they were given anybody along with the heartbeat. Yep, so it all went kind of slow from there. So there really wasn't any air conditioning work. All our contract. With the big apartment complexes and all that stuff, it kind of really swindled down because they were having their own maintenance, taking classes and doing a lot of the urban native work and easy stuff themselves now. So after twiddling my thumbs for a couple of months I'm at this guy's house is my cousin's friend You know, I seen roll up in this nice new trucks and he looks like he's not even dirty and he's got a couple hoses in the back of his truck and he's gonna pull on the back of his truck. And I always say the idea though, he cleans pools so you can make money by cleaning people's tools He's like, Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. So I talked to that guy for a little bit and next thing I knew I was working for him, you know, low wages, I wasn't making anything but to me, which is fun, learning a new trade. And then from there, it just went from hanging out with that guy for a little bit then all of a sudden, that same guy, his name was Robert we started building pools together. And then from building tools for about six to eight years, I'm where I'm at now to where I'm dabbling in a little bit of everything from remodeling, maybe build a couple pools during the year, and a lot of the equipment repairs and installs everything that has to do with a pool other than weekly servicing where you're cleaning it.
Jeremy Perkins 6:33
That's crazy. So we like doing night pools and stuff like that you're actually assigning them and and pouring them doing the entire system.
Brandon Reed 6:41
Yeah, that's the problem with us when we first started and we didn't know any better and we were doing everything ourselves. And you know, we were going to a rental company, or renting out the little Bobcat, so the bigger bobcats and doing our elevation and framework and then dig in the pool. And then the only thing we didn't do would be we build a pool around here it's got night pools and or vinyl liner but vinyl liner where I'm at you don't really see too much of that
Eric Girouard 7:11
in white why is that because of the sun and and temps and stuff for
Brandon Reed 7:15
to us it's kind of like if you want the best of the best you're gonna go with a gun I pool. That's why I got a vinyl pool. Like Jeff Bezos is getting the gunite pool he's not getting the vital pool,
Eric Girouard 7:29
maybe maybe marble pool maybe marble floor but exactly
Brandon Reed 7:34
it's like one of those things is like Do you want a Honda or do you want Mercedes and Mercedes is going to be a gun I pull vinyl liner. They're nice because now you can do all kinds of crazy different things in the guy fiberglass out there now. which they've had for a while.
Jeremy Perkins 7:53
Yeah, so I've seen them on like the trucks that they bring the whole pool already molded and drop it right in. It's like an insert.
Brandon Reed 7:59
Yeah, and it's a lot cheaper because like the pools we're building, especially right now with the material sources and everything else your minimum 75,000 and then if you go with vinyl liner, you can cut that price and nearly 50 60% and then fiberglass is almost in the same price range is your vibe.
Jeremy Perkins 8:20
That's crazy. Have you guys had to coordinate a fiberglass pool?
Brandon Reed 8:23
No, the only thing we do is good night because that's all we really know. Yeah, fiberglass and vinyl liners is there's not much of a layer in between the liner and the dirt. Yeah. Or the fiberglass in the dirt. They don't last as long as good night pools but then I pools has their own problems over time as well. Yeah vinyl liner is just a liner and they concave the walls. Because you know the pressure in the water those pool you know it's going to press out all that weight so yeah, they come down on the walls on an incline usually like a 45 degree angle. So all that water that's holding that liner will push now they got other panels and stuff too that they use and all that that I've seen back east but for some reason that's just not the way we do things over here. Everything we do is I want to say the most advanced as you can get when it comes to the swimming pool just because we are so Cal and we're all year round is not one word 365 days a year. We don't close pools down here at all.
Eric Girouard 9:26
Yep, that's a good point. You get a year it's not like 100 Days of Summer up here in New England you're getting yeah right the investment I mean
Jeremy Perkins 9:33
my pool I inherited this mess of a pool and I was gonna fill it in it was either, you know, empty it out have the kids and the dogs be around an empty pool or try to get it running and got it running but it's a liner pool. It's been patched like a million times we got to run in and it's good. The kids love it. But there's a lot to getting your pool running just on your own. I mean I know a lot of people call you to get it running or deal With installs or pump problems or filter problems but like I was hitting YouTube I'm like I got this I can figure this out myself. It's just a frickin nightmare. I'm missing baskets and strainers and you know the plugs are still in the pool from it being winterize it was just
Brandon Reed 10:16
frickin bass Well like I tell everybody when they call me that they're like I have this floor and the first thing I do I'm sorry you do not want to pull in anything you want it for your kids. But if you want some type of money in your bank account and and not have any bs issues don't own a pool they are the biggest money pits time wasting for what they are than anything other than a boat.
Eric Girouard 10:47
Just gonna say Oh would you say about a boat or a pool because
Brandon Reed 10:51
I rather own the boat. Yeah, the pool never stops you're working on that thing more than you're ever handed but they are a lot of work and a lot of maintenance and they'll treat you right at the casino as soon as you do $100 in there it always turns into 1000 Now the reason why I like the pool industry to over the age stack on the street because when I install a five ton condenser unit I'm not seeing that customer again for another five or 10 years with a tool I'm seeing my customers every four to six months because there's constant always something break and there's always something going on yep and as long as I'm not a dick and I'm just get things done the way I'm supposed to I got a customer Yeah, I got a customer for as long as that customer this size of keep that cool. Yeah, it's just like
Jeremy Perkins 11:37
please get it running. I want an operational I got this party coming up Fourth of July. I need this and you're like sure I'll be over.
Brandon Reed 11:45
Yeah, and I got no problem with it. I had no problems with and the thing is, I busted my ass for 1215 years now to where I never have to leave my city now. So I'm just like back in the day you know, we were traveling to all the West Coast areas like Malibu Irvine, Newport.
Jeremy Perkins 12:07
Now being in Southern California, I would assume that there's a lot of pool companies but you know, it seems like a lot of people are having a hard time finding labor and nobody wants to do this stuff anymore. So do you see that kind of now all of a sudden you're taking on more and more customers your business is more secure than it used to be?
Brandon Reed 12:25
Yeah, I would never say the pool industry isn't secure. Like my dad always told me when I was growing up in life you want to work at something that's a necessity in life which is like water assuming air conditioning is kind of a necessity around here. You know, because it is pretty hot stuff in that manner. As soon as the kink economy tanks which I believe it will because of all this free money this pool stuff is going to be the first to go you know what is happening over here is we actually have a record year all high in the pool industry. We never seen anything like this in our lives.
Eric Girouard 13:01
That was because of the pandemic people were staying home saying no vacations, let's throw pool.
Brandon Reed 13:05
Yeah, the pandemic happened. And I'm going okay, I'm gonna have to go back in the air conditioner or something because you know, in my opinion, people are gonna be smart, we're gonna save money because they don't know what's going to happen. And the exact thing opposite happened. People stayed home kids they didn't know what to do with their kids, everybody wanted a pool now My only concern is is that everybody that I know of some of the data and statistics that I looked at is everyone refinance that lower interest rate and they took all that money the equity that was in their house threw it in the bank that alone and threw it in the backyard. Well over here people are throwing $200,000 in their backyard that's never going to get back Yeah right. And they got a great backyard but like I said you know within five years I'm going to be over there replacing pumps replaced a lot giving them a $5,000 bid because it just never ends with the pool and flow keeps me busy is the technology stuff in this trade I can make your whole back yard work on your iPhone and that's where I come into play because not a lot of people know how to do that correctly when I say correctly a lot of guys know how to hook up some wires and get things to work but they're not installed correctly in the way they need to be done.
Jeremy Perkins 14:28
Yeah it's not that simple anymore now you got LED lighting you got you know water features. You got all sorts of pumps and pH levels and all this stuff that can all be controlled by your phone you know the pool industry has come a long way from where it was and it sounds like you're keeping up with the times by doing this stuff i think that's that's amazing but you're right a whole nother learning curve whole nother you know,
Eric Girouard 14:53
electrician, you're a plumber. I'm an H vet. You're like five trades in one. Yeah.
Jeremy Perkins 14:58
But if the pool industry tags you could just sell skateboards, right? just straighten them all out and just everybody started skating.
Brandon Reed 15:05
You know, if it tanks? Yeah, I'm probably gonna go back to my dad and say, Daddy, you are right. Yeah. But you know, that's the thing I would have still been working with my dad, I wasn't so much like my father, because we never get along. But he also needs to understand that, hey, you know, I'm a punk. I was a punk ass kid back then I thought I knew everything. I thought you were making all this money. And I was only making a measly $22 an hour. And I had this big attitude chip on my shoulder in which any son does when the daddy is the owner of the company, right? You know, but I had to learn the hard way. Unfortunately, it took me a lot longer than most people. But now when I talked to him and stuff, you know, I could see a lot of things that he had to go through now that I'm on the other end of the stick as well. And I'm like, Damn, you know, it's not as easy in the grass isn't always greener. On the other side, it's a lot of stress. Owning any type of business, in any industry by yourself, man, you feel like you got to constantly be working, because you don't know if there's going to be more work. Even though if I look back and go, Okay, well, I never had a day off for the past five years. But in the cost of your head, you know, that day is going to come where the economy's not doing so well anymore, and people are going to make that they're going to say, okay, that pump that I normally get for two grand. Let me go see if I can get that thing for $700 on craziness. You know, that kind of stuff will start to happen, because like I said, a lot of people think this is going to last forever. I really don't I think all this free money has a repercussion. Not seen it yet, but said we're about a year out for building minimum. So we'll probably see it here in my hand, probably within the next two years. Yep. Let me tell you how we build a pool over here.
Eric Girouard 17:11
Yeah, we'd love to, we'd love to.
Brandon Reed 17:14
Well, California is great when it comes to inspections and permits, anything you could think of that's gonna be a requirement. And this The city also they get to pick up on whatever they think is required to. It's fun building a pool in California.
Jeremy Perkins 17:30
It's up in the northeast week. Yeah. You know what you've gone through?
Brandon Reed 17:34
Yes, like ridiculous. And I'll tell you some of the requirements which get thrown out as soon as they pass inspection. But the first thing you do is like we design a pool on the software's, it's called a pool studio. And, you know, you can get that software for like $300 a month, and we build all kinds of crazy stuff. From there, it goes to you get the plans, and then we pull the permits. And as soon as all that gets approved, okay, we're gonna dig. But you think as a pool builder, these guys do everything in house, they don't, they're nothing but the designer, the guy who makes the plans and they sub everything out, there might be one or two companies in my whole state that actually have a couple things in house to build a pool and keep it in these low price ranges, which is not even low anymore. We know we're at 70k. For the bare minimum, you have to sub out because we're California we got workman's comp we got all kinds of insurances and payroll and all that stuff to where to keep the cost down. There's no way we could have everybody house and up until to now there really wasn't enough work to keep everybody in house. So we did a pool and after that goes we normally put the rebar in that we steal it and then we plug it in and when we plumb it, we tie the plumbing to the rebar. Got it sometimes we're plumbing then they'll do some still and then they'll plumb a little bit that needs to get attached to the rebar and then after that we just pressure test it you know we run our gas line, we run our electrical, and then we pressure test all those lines and as soon as that passes, we'll go ahead and we'll shoot it with shotcrete or goodnight.
Jeremy Perkins 19:12
How do you pressure test it? Well you just run like a gauge on one end and like a compressor on the other end.
Brandon Reed 19:18
A lot of guys like to use water on the planning side I use water on the guest side I use air and all we're doing is capping off all the lines and then at the actual equipment we make a manifold where all that stuff kind of tees it Yeah. And then we put a gauge on there and then our gauge actually has a little valve on there where you can put either water or air in. And then same with our gas line. We'll run the line will capelin in here we'll put a gauge on there and we'll actually put air in the gas line. I hope nobody puts water in the gas line. It's just a pressure test that and same thing with the lights now like our lights now are about the size of the palm of your hand and they go through inch and a half PVC pipe. There's no more big ol light niches anymore. Yeah, yeah. And we do 12 volt lighting over here. It's better than throw 120 volts in the GFCI. You know, here's what's so funny is like we'll throw a pool light in the pool is 120 volts, and we're relying on his $20 GFCI. To trip in case any type of things have occurred leaking inside. Well, that's another thing I left out to was the body, we bond the hell out of these pools, which means is we're just running bare copper wire to two points of each side of each pool,
Jeremy Perkins 20:27
and it's grounded.
Brandon Reed 20:30
Yeah, you want to be careful what you say about grounding. There's earth. And there's grounds. Yeah. And then some people might say, well, there's Earth's ground, and then there's bonding. Yes. But all we're doing is we're making the pool the same potential as the outside, basically, to anyone who's listening. I don't want to sound like Ilan musk here, when it comes to. Basically, basically, we're making it the same potential. So like, think of yourself as a battery. If you're on the negative end, and then you touch the positive, you're not really at the same potential, because now you're grounding yourself. And now you're on the power side, you're making yourself the same potential to where you are pretty much a part of that current. So you won't feel anything. But it all depends on Bonnie's, not 100%. So like, I had a call two weeks ago, where the kids jumped in the water. And they said, our toes and hands are tingling every time they jump in the water. Okay, this tool is straight to code, everything's 100%, straight decode. And it's bonded like crazy. So all that bond wire is, you know, 86 gauge depending on the city to the rebar. And so, why were their hands tingling? And why were their sheet tingling? Well, there was a conduit line that had nothing to do with the pool equipment or the pool. It was going to the garage. And that conduit line broke? Well, when that kind of like broke the power was still life. What do you think all that steel and all that bonding conducted it? Exactly. That's crazy. Bonnie's not always 100% because you're thinking about lightning strikes and all this shit which I ever get in California. Okay, so yeah. So on something like that, like great. Okay, so we got awning going on here. Well, this body and all that they do is provide a path for that electrical break straight to the pool. And there's about 40 feet away.
Jeremy Perkins 22:33
So for anybody that doesn't know electricity, electricity follows the path of least resistance. So yeah, that's crazy. That's
Brandon Reed 22:40
awesome. Yeah, and when you say that, the electricians that are listening are gonna say no, it follows any path. But same thing what happened is Yeah, it went to that path. And the less resistance the more milliamps that I'm going to have in that pool.
Jeremy Perkins 22:59
How did you figure that out? Did you just start flipping breakers until the tingling went away?
Brandon Reed 23:03
Yeah cuz everyone goes hey Brandon here electrical genius when it comes to this stuff well I'm very good at troubleshooting because he has a lot to troubleshoot right and this the same stuff of me moving air I'm moving water, you know, and heating air or heating water. So I actually called My uncle on that one who's freaking electrical madman. And also I called my pentair rep, which he wasn't always a rep until recently, he was a technical warranty guy number one in Southern California. So I'm measuring and I'm going okay, I can't figure it out where it's coming from so that's exactly what he told me to do. He said, just start flipping breakers and tell you see the current go away in the pool, because all I'm doing is that my one test lead on at the panel on my on my bond. And I got the other test lead in the in the water.
Jeremy Perkins 24:05
Yeah, that's what I was thinking. That's crazy. That's an awesome diag.
Brandon Reed 24:09
Yeah, so we flipped off a breaker, and we're not like okay, well, it's gone now. Okay, well, what the hell is that breaker go to. Then the homeowner goes, Oh, it might go over here where they chopped this lineup. And they replaced the line for him. I go, Okay, so we dug in that there was they replace the line, but they forgot to make that line that they replaced it with dead. So it was still hooked up when they ran the new line. Wow. You know, and it's just things like that. So nothing's 100% so now we're doing GFCI breakers on all the equipment. Which is great. I understand that
Jeremy Perkins 24:51
without a trip to breaker.
Brandon Reed 24:55
Not on the poolside. Okay, so like I said, nothing's 100% if that's Kinda line had a GFCI. The one of the one of the garage, right? Yeah, yeah, it would have tripped. But then you're dealing with gfcis. And they can have a brain of their own and they could trip when you don't need them to trip. So you're constantly resetting the breaker. So that's one of those things is should we start to GFCI anything that surrounds the pool, too? because nothing's 100% when you got something like that, because that's when I asked him I'm like, what's the point of all this bonding and stuff? If all I did was just create a frickin death tank? With all this steel and all this money, you're following code? And that's the way I gotta be. Yeah, he goes, branding has been a debate for a long time, because it protects this. But it made path for this. Yeah. And it's just like, Okay, all right. So I'm like, Damn, you know, I grew up my whole life thinking everybody had shit figured out. Now I'm starting to realize they don't have anything figured out more than I do. Yeah. Oh, yeah, you know, and we try our best but nothing's 100% on when it comes to Assa, but it's great because like, it's that bond wire from the pool goes all the way to the pool motors, it gets attached to the pool motors and all that stuff. Say something electrical arc was happened on my pool motor. That's going to create so much of an amperage draw. That's gonna trip a breaker like that. Right? So stuff like that is great for it. But no, I'm starting to learn. Hey, okay, well, nothing's 100% here, especially with that story that I just told you. Was all of your electrical
Jeremy Perkins 26:25
work. Was that all learned on on the job? This is fascinating that, you know, to bring it back to you know how you grew up,
Brandon Reed 26:33
I took a job, same guy that I met, his name is Robert, he told me Hey, for $600 I need you to trench line, put a time clock here and all that stuff. And I don't know why. But I said 21 maybe I was 24. Maybe that's 25 I can't remember. But back then that was a lot of money for 24 or 25 year old kid. And he's told me he was only gonna take me a day or two. So I started digging the trench. And then I and I ran the lines like he told me Yeah, but when it came to the electrical parts, Oh, shit. Now, now what do I do, I don't know how to hook this up. So I called my dad and he came in within an hour do and he started yelling at me because I took a job where I didn't know what the hell I was doing. And he showed me how to do it. And then ever since he showed me how to do it there, I was able to figure out everything by myself from there. But I got drilled for taking the job don't ever take a job if you don't know what you're doing.
Jeremy Perkins 27:32
That's wild because I'm in automotive. And you know, I learned my stuff through a trade school and through military training. It was awesome I felt like learning the theories learning ohms law learning all this stuff was super beneficial to write not only what I do, but a lot of electricians will cringe but I've started to be able to branch out from a 24 volt system to now you know, working with my own home electrical and stuff like that, right? It's amazing that you know, that was one thing other than being able to work with my hands take something apart and put it back together was understanding electricity and you know, having this you know, essentially being able to respect it right right and and I have this huge respect for I never wanted to touch home electrical, but now you know, I'm changing our fixtures and everything but doing it right I mean, I have knob and tube in my farmhouse right now and I'm just like, oh God, dude, it's it's awful. Everything run everywhere. It's just stapled to, you know, beams. Now I kind of understand you know how to do things, right? Yes, I'm not licensed. Yes, I'm not, you know, certified in that field. However, it allows me to get my job done. And you know, we won't speak to that for all the electricians out there.
Brandon Reed 28:47
Love thing too is like when I'm on Instagram is like, are you certified for the Warriors? Well, yeah, but in the state of California, all you need is a C 53. And that allows me to do everything I want with a pool. Okay, so that's just a contractor's licensing right now other states have certification just for the gas only. Yeah, and that's not you know, which we have certifications for the gas to which I got like 10 years ago. But basically, we don't have that many certifications other than you have to have your contractor's license and the gas cert but the gas cert you know, everyone goes with these certifications and you know that Gasser it took me four hours. And that doesn't make me any more qualified than most people with these little classes that you take to get a certification card. That just means now I'm certified it really screw shit up. You know, you're 100%
Jeremy Perkins 29:47
right? I don't want it to happen. I do want it to happen. I don't know where I fall, but like, you know, electricians and GCS and plumbers, they have all these certifications. Mechanics have zero. We have what's called ASE which is like automotive service excellence which is like hey they took these classes and they have a certificate but that's a private company like it's not required by the state so any Joe can work on your car
Brandon Reed 30:13
right and another thing too is he certifications Okay Where are you getting these certifications right my state requires this okay? Oh, you're doing what a lot of people do in every industry this guy turns 70 years old still needed income and said well shit I can't do pools anymore. Let me make a webinar in class series and give these guys a patch when they pass my classes. I you know, I've been to all these classes and I'll tell you the truth, it makes you a little bit more booksmart Yeah, and you'll know more about the code requirements and stuff like that, which I'm not too worried about code requirements I know all the codes I've been doing this for years. And you get to know all this stuff just by being out on the field these books aren't going to teach you everyday life scenarios on what to do and what not to do and how the world turns and pay if I touch this and don't do it like this all the liabilities and stuff involved at these guys get this stuff any knowledge is good knowledge. But that doesn't make you a master at your professional job because you spent 16 hours at a webinar or went to a class
Jeremy Perkins 31:29
sometimes those guys are actually end up you know bouncing from job to job because they're good test takers and they don't really have on the job experience and it's unfortunate I don't want to dog anybody that does well on these tests or has the credentials I mean that's not what we're here to do. But you're right these classes
Brandon Reed 31:45
don't teach you how to troubleshoot No, they don't teach you what to look for and a lot of them are detrimental to somebody that I'm trying to train because it's like okay, dude, this guy just told you how to do something that's gonna take you an hour in my way is gonna take you 10 minutes and we can get the hell on going and going on to the next call this is real life brother we can't spend an hour here go and testing things when I'll show you the like a heater A lot of people don't know how heaters work and it's basically Hey, if you don't get this then what's the last command for it? Because there's all sensors and there's all the circuit board telling how the heater to operate. So you know if you hear that gal stop clicking it doesn't ignite okay? So you know the last command was that gas valve turned on you heard it, click right Okay, so let's not test all the hundreds of components before that gas file. We know all those components work because if those components didn't work that damn guest I want to try to turn
Jeremy Perkins 32:48
off well it's experience it's experienced too Yeah, so we know
Brandon Reed 32:51
hey, let's check for gas and then let's check out all the commands after that gas found like the hot surface igniter and stuff of that nature you know, and that's what I teach my guys is like Okay, let's do this. Let's compartmentalize here. Let's not think about all the other stuff that stuff already works. So let's not think about that. And but if you went to one of those classes, you would be starting from Command A all the way to why when you already knew why work so you can get dizzy. And it's just like okay, but it's hard for these guys to learn because there's not a lot of people out there that are like me that are willing to go on Instagram for four hours a day and tell these guys Hey, do it this way. So they don't the only outlets that they do have are these classes and the literature that they get but you know, there should be some type of book that's just like, basically the Bible for our trade instead of going about different authors because if I read this guy's book, and then this guy's book and that guy's book, there's a lot of discrepancies from all the people teaches these certifications and they're all not the same you know?
Eric Girouard 34:11
Oh yeah, so one question we have for you so and this may go way back but what's the number one thing that you know now that you wish you knew when you were just getting into this trade how
Brandon Reed 34:21
to properly make money I was selling my whole soul for $2 back then. Well thing is I was working my tail off making everyone happy and then at the end of the day, I think I would make 150 bucks and and then years go by and you're like, well crap, it cost me 125 to live, you know, and everybody's charging this amount. And they're nowhere near as good as I am. So like, like a heater for instance. Most people, not everybody, but most will buy five parts and pray that the thing turns on because they don't know how to troubleshoot or what to look for.
Jeremy Perkins 34:58
Throw it off. Add it right?
Brandon Reed 35:00
Yeah, so far setting that damn thing will eventually work and, you know, nine times out of 10, it will Yeah. So you know, here's me getting the right part only one part, spending my time going down to the distributor, you know, getting the part coming back, that's a lot of thing too is like the homeowners Don't think about that part. That time is money. Yeah, like, I gotta go down to distributor, I gotta go get it. And then most of the time, I have it in my band. But then again, you know, some of these parts I'm sitting on for a month, month and a half and out styles 10s of 1000s of dollars until I get that call, to use the hell these parts that I've stopped, you know, I kind of wish they would think a little bit more on when we build them, like, Hey, this is not just that I came here and it took me 15 minutes to turn on. It's been years and years and years of me working on this stuff. And I can sit here for an hour and twiddle my thumbs, or I can just fix this thing in 15 minutes and grab the part out of my van. And if I could go back, that's the first thing I would wish I learned is how to properly charge people. Yeah, that's a slippery slope,
Jeremy Perkins 36:11
too. Because you know, with everything is, you know, do you hit them up front with all these parts? And like you said, you've prayed nine out of 10 times it works. So you have a high bill, right? Or is your bill like, essentially labor packs, because you're charging for your time? But you know, it's got like a $18 switch on it. You know, I mean, it's not even that it's just now you got to explain to the customer with all these parts, you're like, Oh, I had to do this, this and this, and they understand that, but like, for you, it may take 234 hours a diag, which, you know, I don't know what you guys charge. But for us, it was like 100 bucks an hour, right? So now it's $300 in labor for an $18 part and they just can't comprehend that, I guess the sales aspect, the customer service aspect, trying to figure figure that out. And that plays a huge role. I mean, how many of your guys are good at customer facing roles, you
Brandon Reed 37:03
know what I mean? They're not in the pool industry. Few are good at what they do. And very few are good at the business aspects of the industry. Very few. And like what I do is because not to sound cocky or anything, but I'm up there, I'm in the top, whatever you would want to call it when it comes to doing pool equipment and anything technical, your pool King. Yeah, I know I'm up there with those other guys. So what I do is I tell people straight out and you got to understand too is like, I'm not a car mechanic, and I'm not a electrician. I'm in the pool industry. And that's a pee on industry. You know what I mean? It's not like, oh, the electrician is coming in. He's wiring up a three phase panel. It's no the pool boys come in here. You know. Okay, so
Jeremy Perkins 37:56
yeah, you know, that sucks. That sucks.
Brandon Reed 37:58
And that's what I'm trying to change. My Instagram is like the number one thing is don't call yourself a poor guy. I want to get out of that whole realm. Because there's guys like me that are very technical. We know all the aspects of everything. And there's a lot of aspects in those water that you just couldn't believe that we need to start respecting ourselves. And stop screaming pool boy, every time we open the gate to go in someone's backyard just by doing that alone brings more to the industry and more respect, right? Right.
Jeremy Perkins 38:33
We had to get out of that same thing. It's weird for us, but like we were grease monkeys, we were mechanics we were whatever. And now there was a huge revamping of the culture. And now we're automotive technicians, automotive service technicians. I mean, it's still weird because people will always say I need to bring my car to the mechanic. So it's hard to get away from the hat
Brandon Reed 38:54
is way better than Hey, the pool boys come Hey,
Jeremy Perkins 38:57
yeah, yeah, no, I
Brandon Reed 38:59
get it. It's just like any industry like with your industry. Now you can be the best mechanic in the world. And you'll still get those customers that say, we'll Junior down the street, we'll do it for $75 you know, okay, or you have the mobile mechanic guy, or you got the guys who are doing it out of his own garage out of his house. And those guys are the type that bring the professionalism of that industry down because they're not doing things that you and I would have how I would have done they don't own the equipment, or the overhead or all the stuff that comes with doing things right and professionally the other saving money but they're not getting the job done better if they were to go
Jeremy Perkins 39:44
with you. There's no warranty not even that, like labor warranty parts warranty. And it's usually fly by night. Right? Right. And those are your parts changes and yeah, no 100% so now we kind of want to move to something a little lighter.
Eric Girouard 39:59
Yeah, but one We do all this learning about you learn about work, everything we always want to know, outside of work when you get to unplug, which sounds like it's probably rare and probably never, what's one thing that you like to do that has nothing to do with anything, being a pool technician, electric, any of the stuff we talked about today, what's your kind of unwind
Brandon Reed 40:22
while you pin that on the head, I don't have unwind yet my whole life has always been in fear that I'm going to be broke. So I take on the work as soon as I can, as fast as I can. And I'm always going on to the next job going on the next job. So even on my downtime, I'm trying to organize, get things ready so I can get stuff going for those upcoming jobs that need to get done. And when I do have downtime, you know, I got to do laundry, because I'm tired of wearing the same box of grease for three days.
Jeremy Perkins 40:56
That's a new one. Roger. enjoy doing.
Brandon Reed 41:00
Enjoy. I don't enjoy I just I can't wear the same boxer briefs for three days. Yeah, well, well, you know,
Eric Girouard 41:06
Jeremy Perkins 41:09
well, there's that you got to wear right side out inside out what's the
Eric Girouard 41:12
34 days no problem.
Brandon Reed 41:14
That's a problem because track of the insides now. And then I got to clean out and organize a van and write a restock list. And by that time, then new jobs come back in. And you know, my girlfriend, she's on the on a lot about going out and doing things and you know, a lot of other guys will tell you to the works always going to be there. You know, but you know, how did I get here, because 2009 happen. And I had to leave an H vac industry to come here to make money. So my head is like, it's not always going to be this good. So I'll work as much as I can. If you're a business owner, I don't believe in downtime or fun time I understand if you can go take, go off for a couple days and go do stuff. You know, that's cool that's needed. But even when you're out for a couple of days, I don't see how you can just drop the phone and not keep business is still rolling because it just never ends with any of this stuff. And you're just piling on a bunch of work for when you get back from your vacation. That's my whole thing. This is my passion.
Jeremy Perkins 42:24
So then downtime on time off time is is enjoyable.
Brandon Reed 42:28
Yeah. I wouldn't be doing half of the stuff I do if I didn't have the passion for it. And that's the whole thing about the Instagram too is I got so sick of this industry, being so minimalized I've made my own Instagram. And that Instagram has a plan. Like right now it's just okay. Let me show you some tips. Let's talk about this. And then let's laugh on a different pose. But the whole end goal Instagram is because as we were talking about certifications and stuff earlier, I want to get these guys trained, right? I there's so many times I hear about, well, I've been doing this for 30 years. Well, I understand that. But as we all grow older, we start to understand that just because our parents raised us doesn't mean they raised us right 100% just because your mentor that talks you brought you into these pools, you got to understand where he learned it from. And that's not the correct right way and procedures to do things. And that's what the whole Instagram is about because sooner or later I'm going to do webinars and classes and all this stuff because these poor guys didn't come from a trade like I did. You know, all they know is what they were taught from another tool guy and it's always the wrong way. But this is the only way they know how doing
Jeremy Perkins 43:52
that's the thesis of Bucknell University that's the thesis of our whole podcast is the fact that like, you know, we want to empower the upcoming the new commerce or even people that are stagnant. I say on multiple podcasts that like wrenching for 15 years and doing the same things in and out I was like there's got to be more to it and I turned it like he said to Instagram tik tok and all these things and started making videos. And it is a little discouraging. Like you said, I saw a meme the other day where you know, the flaming arrows and the guys just standing there dodging it. And it's like, you know, you do something to get Mrs. Johnson home. It may not be the right thing and in the eyes of the automotive industry, but it was the right thing at the time. Right. And then you just get you get crucified on Instagram. No one
Brandon Reed 44:41
crucifies me more than my own trade and it's not about my work,
Eric Girouard 44:45
right? Yeah. For me who's not a technician of any sorts is frickin mind blowing. We're super sad. The reason we wanted to have you on here is you know, it's clear that you stand out like you're the person people can look to is they're looking to figure out how to navigate the trade. You You know how to do certain things
Brandon Reed 45:01
yeah I've been called I've been called the pool boy poster child lately and and this is like okay I'll take that then today I just want everyone to be so professional I don't want to have to walk in the backyard anymore but oh my god again that's just to call calls a day from one dislike Why? Why would you Why would you do like this just why you made it 10 times harder on yourself it looks like garbage and everything else and just like today I posted that plumbing job that I did and I painted the pipes Yep, yeah, I saw that. I learned a long time ago that probably California and Arizona maybe Texas or the only ones that paint the PVC and then I'll get a lot of comments today we're like why do you paint the PVC the hydro blue marks and we're like no Do you that's actually code and in my region where we have to paint the PVC but even if it didn't I still do anyway it's because it's looks so much nicer it's cleaner and all that stuff but I you know you get these comments you're like okay, how do you break these guys out of doing the bare minimum and these comments you can tell they're so used to doing the bare minimum that they actually don't see the issue when they're writing you a comment and on your Instagram they're literally telling you why do you you know just something that's painting the pipes they're making a big deal that I paint the pipes instead of going wow that looks nice. Maybe I'll buy a $4 kind of spray paint and and so my customers what I do on the job but you know, but they don't see it they can't open their mind up to it and say okay, how can I be different or how can I be better it's more like that's just extra five minutes of work and you know it's just like no dude you want to be the best you can be and you want to make things nice to when the customer goes oh crap even painting
Eric Girouard 47:04
Jeremy Perkins 47:07
Well at this point I want to thank you for your time on this podcast it's been unbelievable you stand out in the pool community as a full technician i think it's it's unbelievable and at this time I want to give you a chance to you know say anything plug anything something that you've been working on you know just kind of let people know where they can go for the next step
Eric Girouard 47:29
is it foul you know most easy to follow you on Instagram and there are other things they should do or
Brandon Reed 47:35
for right now you know I have Instagram as pool underscore pollution pollution for tik tok as well I don't spend that much time on Tick Tock anymore and I have a YouTube channel which is full Volusion the YouTube channel I probably throw out a couple of videos here and there and it's just product videos about cool products and and what they offer and what you want to look for when you're selling them and basically you know if this product is good or not but other than that you know thinking was out there listening in if you're in employment history no I'm here for you to message me on Instagram I could get you on the right path if that's the career that you might want to pursue or these other trades out there listening you know we're starting to figure out that a lot of our trades are a lot of the same issues here and and for the ones that are listening that are professional you know just let you know you're not alone even the poor boy has issues so let's you know, hopefully we can all unite and you know, get things going to where we think they should be but I appreciate you guys man. I'm still wearing those boots. Those ringers and you know they're good that they're good that they know they've been through and already they're lasting they just don't look pretty anymore. Yeah, you
Eric Girouard 48:51
know just like us just like us.
Brandon Reed 48:57
That's the whole thing is like for me I don't have any downtime so I want to wear some nice boots but man you know, I'm blowing pipe all day and then I let down like, you know, somehow I got glue all over. Everything else. I'm like, well, suit. Oh, well.
Eric Girouard 49:14
Yeah, we'll have to send you another pair. So when you get that time with your girlfriend, you can throw a fresh head on and now glued up and sprayed and all that shit.
Brandon Reed 49:24
Yeah, you know, we'll save that for another podcast. I'm still surprised. Yes. Yeah. Well,
Jeremy Perkins 49:31
I appreciate your time. This has been unbelievable. Thank you for coming on Bucket Talk.
Brandon Reed 49:36
Appreciate it man.
Shortly after graduating high school, Brandon started working for his father’s HVAC company for much of his early adulthood. However, during the housing market crash in the late-2000’s, business began to dwindle significantly as crucial accounts sought ways to cut costs. With a career change already in mind, he met a family friend one day, who was making ends meet in the pool business. One thing led to another and Brandon found himself cleaning pools, and eventually building them from scratch.
“So I talked to that guy for a little bit and next thing I knew I was working for him, you know, low wages, I wasn't making anything but to me, which is fun, learning a new trade. And then from there, it just went from hanging out with that guy for a little bit then all of a sudden, that same guy, his name was Robert we started building pools together.”
Over the years, Brandon has become a master of all things pool-related. Applying elements from several trades, he often finds himself doing plumbing, HVAC, construction, and electrician work all at once. He is on the job 365-days a year as a pool technician and business owner based in the sunny state of California. Compared to HVAC work, Brandon has found that being a self-employed pool technician is a significantly higher maintenance trade.
“When I install a five ton condenser unit I'm not seeing that customer again for another five or 10 years. With a pool I'm seeing my customers every four to six months because there's constantly always something breaking and there's always something going on”
Working through the pandemic, Brandon has also experienced an unprecedented boom in the pool industry due to families quarantining and dumping money into their at-home environment.
“Yeah, the pandemic happened. And I'm going okay, I'm gonna have to go back in the air conditioner or something because you know, in my opinion, people are gonna be smart, we're gonna save money because they don't know what's going to happen. And the exact thing opposite happened. People stayed home, they didn't know what to do with their kids, so everybody wanted a pool now.”
Transitioning as a worker in his father’s company to a business owner himself, Brandon has gained context over the years for being self-employed. Having now experienced both sides of the same coin, he can now understand many of the struggles his father went through.
“I could see a lot of things that he had to go through now that I'm on the other end of the stick as well… it's not as easy and the grass isn't always greener. On the other side, it's a lot of stress. Owning any type of business, in any industry by yourself, man, you feel like you got to constantly be working, because you don't know if there's going to be more work.”
From working in HVAC as a young adult, to learning a completely new trade and making a business out of it, Brandon has brought himself to the forefront of the pool industry through a mix of trial-and-error, experience, and hard work.
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