Swimart 27th Anniversary
Rising from the ashes
Longest standing Swimart franchisee celebrates 27 years
It was a stormy wet night when John Pavett, owner of Swimart Miranda, received the call you don't ever want to get - his new Swimart store was on fire.
Less than a year after opening in 1987, John's world was rocked when the store was destroyed by fire. But he didn't let that destroy his hopes and dreams and with the help of Swimart head office and Waterco (the franchisor), he rebuilt his store into the successful business it is today.
Swimart Miranda, in the southern suburbs of Sydney, is now the longest serving franchisee - and this month it celebrates 25 years in business.
John certainly understands about overcoming adversity, and he admits the fire experience taught him some important lessons. "Firstly, there is strength in numbers," he says. "As part of a franchise group, you are not on your own. I also learnt the importance of tenacity. I could have thrown the towel in, but I'm glad I didn't.
"Swimart head office and Waterco were fantastic. They assisted with the insurance claim and provided me with new stock. My customers were also great and provided great support during that difficult time."
Phoenix rising from the ashes
John explains that an electrical fault caused the fire. "It was raining heavily that night," he says. "I watched devastated as my new business burnt to the ground."
The 40 kilo drums of chlorine in the store mixed with the rain went off like "depth chargers" says John.
Despite the tragedy, John says he was able to have a chuckle… later.
"The first firefighters on site received a huge fright when they ran straight into my display pools at the front of the store and sank like a stone to the bottom of the pool," he explains. "They managed to clamber out, shaken and disorientated, and then promptly walked straight into my display spas. Luckily no-one was hurt. It's funny now, quite a ‘keystone cops' moment, but it was scary at the time!"
Fortunately the warehouse at the rear was only smoke damaged so John was able to continue trading.
Strength to strength
Chris Fitzmaurice, Swimart Australasian Manager, states that John's commitment and success says a lot about the Swimart franchise system.
"During John's time with Swimart, other franchise businesses have been created, established, grown and then ultimately failed, yet the Swimart franchise system remains, stronger and better than ever," says Chris.
"We have several franchisees who have been with us for over 20 years, which in this day and age, is testament to the strength of the franchise model we operate."
John admits to being a realist and says that has helped him understand and grow the business.
"The pool and spa industry is seasonal," he explains. "Some years the sun shines and everyone uses their pool. However, when the weather is bad, people don't use their pools as much so business is slower. I've learnt it's important to take a cautious approach when things are quiet and save for the future."
It also helps to love what you do, John adds. "I am a water freak and surf and swim most days, so this business was an ideal fit for me."
Not surprisingly, John is very fire conscious these days and makes sure all rags with methylated spirits are studiously disposed of.
From humble beginnings, the Swimart franchise has now grown into Australia and New Zealand's largest pool and spa specialist with 66 stores and a fleet of more than 200 mobile service vans and it continues to expand.