From vineyard manager to Swimart Malvern store owner
Andrew Huisman – Swimart Malvern
Andrew Huisman sure knows what it takes to make things grow. He's now focused on growing his Swimart store at Malvern in Victoria, but prior to that he was responsible for making grapes grow!
A trained horticulturalist, Andrew previously worked as a vineyard manager in Victoria's beautiful Yarra Valley. With his background in horticulture, Andrew secured a position that led him to running the vineyard.
At the vineyard Andrew was responsible for the production schedule, which included organising the correct pruning time of the vines, 'lifting the wires' – i.e. managing the canopy of the vines to allow appropriate sunlight to reach the fruit and facilitate better air circulation – and when to drop fruit in the season to control how many grape bunches develop.
"Making wine is a delicate balance of many contributors," Andrew says. "My job was to produce the best possible quality fruit and to achieve a precise number of tonnes per acre by a particular time. The number of bunches you allow to grow affects the acidity and sugar content of the fruit.
"The Yarra Valley produces high quality, cool climate wine; more fruit is not better. If you allow too many bunches to grow, they won't ripen in time, as the sugar content will be too low."
Andrew admits that he enjoyed working outside on the land. "I loved the cyclical nature of wine production. At the end of each season, your work literally bears the fruit of your efforts."
After a couple of years working in the vineyard, Andrew began looking for a business of his own to buy, and came across the Swimart concept.
"It was the first franchise I looked at and I liked what I saw," he says. "I could really see great growth potential and a better income and lifestyle for myself. I also saw that it was a good solid business and knew that Malvern was a great area with a lot of pools and spas."
Andrew says that working on the vineyard meant he gained strong experience managing people and that "this knowledge came in handy when I had my own store and staff to lead."
"Now I've especially learnt the importance of giving outstanding customer service," he says. "I've learnt you have to be on top of everything and develop good problem resolution skills.
"The swimming pool and spa industry is quite technical, so there was a big learning curve, which I found exciting and ever-changing. Staff training is paramount, as is working on the business and not just in the business."
Andrew has also really enjoyed and availed himself of the Swimart franchise network.
"There is a real camaraderie between the store owners, who all help each other," Andrew adds. "This is a challenging and stimulating business and it's never boring!"
Andrew knows all about pools. He grew up with a pool in the backyard and says he "spent many a day playing there."
"The best part of having a pool is relaxing and entertaining with friends and family," he says. "I have two kids of my own now and they are real water babies."
With the warmer weather on the way, Andrew is looking forward to the swimming season. And he advises other pool owners to be prepared.
"Now is the perfect time to bring in a water sample to the store to have it tested and balanced. It's also important to have your pool equipment checked and to get ready for the swimming season. Don't leave it to the last minute!"