Paddock Pools, Spas and Patio: Thriving and growing in desert climes
Stories by Cinde W. Ingram -- Casual Living, 9/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Paddock Pools, Spas and Patio holds claim as the nation's oldest pool construction company and bragging rights as the Southwest's largest pool, spa and patio retailer with 15 stores in Arizona and Nevada. Its concept is equally expansive: Offering every product a customer would want for their back yard.
Above, wall art and containers are displayed within view of a variety of furniture styles inside the Gilbert backyard superstore Paddock opened in July. Below, one of the pool display areas outside Paddock's headquarters and first store.
Paddock dates to the 1920s when Pasquale Paddock built pools for Hollywood celebrities and now is adding some of the nation's newest retail stores.
"Once we're done with this expansion, we're going to have locations convenient to every part of the Valley," said David Ghiz, senior vice president. "The Paddock concept is unique because we're the complete provider of backyard living. Some build pools, some sell patio and some sell pool products, but nobody is that single source for everything somebody might want in their backyard.
"If you become a Paddock customer and you get entrenched into the brand, and if we do our jobs right at every level, we're going to keep you as a customer for a long, long time," Ghiz said.
Second- and third-generation customers have returned to Paddock stores in the 48 years since Ghiz's father George moved to the Phoenix area from California. He saw opportunity in the swimming pool market and wanted a solid name with some meaning. "He was 'Paddock, the world's oldest pool builder,' the day he opened his door," the younger Ghiz said. "He realized there was opportunity to keep those customers beyond just building the swimming pools and he started to sell the chemicals. My brother and I used to go down to the office on Saturdays to pack chemicals from big buckets to small bags."
In the early 1960s, the elder Ghiz met Sam Mallin, who built on his knowledge of school furniture and had begun to make patio chairs. The two joined forces, combining Ghiz's growing reputation for building quality pools with Mallin's furniture. Ghiz bought then-remote Scottsdale property, which now houses the retail chain's headquarters, and built seven display pools and a retail store.
"When he opened this in 1964, they were still riding horses out here," Ghiz said, recalling posts out front where customers tied their horses.
His father opened a second store in central Phoenix and another on the western side of town. "He kept evolving the concept of retailing because he felt, as we still feel, that it was a critical part of what we do," Ghiz said. "We do build a lot of swimming pools, but there's so much opportunity to keep that customer in our family, as we like to say, they're in our circle of opportunity forever."
The newest back yard superstore Paddock opened in July in Gilbert offers an inviting store format with an infinity pool close to the entrance and a racetrack-style path leading shoppers toward the sides where they find plenty of accessories, furniture or chemicals. Customers can check out at cash registers in various parts of the store rather than having to collect and carry products toward the front.
"We're undergoing a little bit of a metamorphasis, trying to get an updated look and feel at all of our locations," said John Ball, senior vice president, retail. "We hadn't opened a new store in about six years until last November. From November '05 to November '06, we will have opened four new stores, which is dramatic growth compared to what we had over the past five or six years.
"We tried to look at business adjacencies," Ball said of location selection. "We sell spas and pools out of our retail stores so we tried to take that water element, that impulsive sensory part of the business and put it at the front of the store. We've taken the pool (supply) shop, which is somewhat of a convenience business, and moved it from the back of the store more to the front side, where it's easier access. We are utilizing a new traffic pattern, more of a racetrack design, to get people around the store to view the product. We think that will help make our walls more valuable from a shopping and sales per square foot basis. And it also gives us a big center area to feature patio shop for nine months of the year or Christmas for the other three months."
"In both of our markets, Phoenix and Las Vegas, people want big, comfortable cushy furniture," Ghiz said. "They want to be able to sit out on their patio and relax out there for hours. Sling product is probably losing some ground. People like it because it's pretty easy to take care of, but when you sit them in a sling chair then you sit them in a cushion chair, they're going to buy the cushion chair.
"Because here, eight to nine months of the year everybody wants to be sitting outdoors and they do create outdoor living rooms," Ghiz said. "Homebuilders are building patios that are big and extend the indoors to the out with big windows and things that make that patio area feel like it's part of the home. If someone comes in and wants to create a whole room, we have everything they need to do that with."
Sectional seating groups and conversational collections definitely have moved outdoors here. "I think customers today are really trying to take indoor trends, comfort and styling to the outdoors," Ball said. "The traditional five-piece dining set is not as important today because people want to sit around in groups in deep seating and in comfortable seating and quality. People invest in their back yard today and I think that's a real point of differentiation between Paddock and the mass because we can offer much broader selection of that kind of product and much better expertise and service."
Paddock's focus is on the upper market, but its target customer is anybody with money and a back yard, Ball said.
Paddock's brand is entrenched in the market and protecting it means providing product quality, value and service at the high level expected. "We want to make sure the customers are getting things in their back yard that they're going to enjoy for years," Ghiz said.
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