By Nick Buchholz

The World of custom, high-end, swimming pool construction is challenging but with the cultivation of relationships, those challenges may be met with confidence. As we expand the potential for what is possible with design and construction, pulling together a project with flawless implementation is desirable, yet often not achieved. There are ways to navigate this process that will save all parties involved much headache and despair. Bringing together a team of individuals that have a common goal of executing a project to perfection is the goal, but there are many responsibilities that must be defined prior to the commencement of work.

I have been fortunate to have experience with projects that have gone well and projects that have not. I say that I have been “fortunate” because even the projects that did not go as planned, for numerous reasons, turned into positive learning experiences. We call this Wisdom. Something only your grandfather had. These positive and negative experiences culminate into that wisdom which allows each collaboration to be better than the one prior.

When pool builders, designers, etc., get together, much of what we talk about, are our problems. But rarely do we talk about how we overcome the problems to make the end result perfect. To turn this around to increase the percentage of positive experiences, we must adhere to values and ethics that should be prevalent in these relationships but rarely are. Just like partnerships, there must be a level of confidence, trust, and expectation between all parties to execute.

The industry lost a great man last month, Joe McCoy from California Pools and Landscape in Arizona, and he said one of the most profound things to me many years ago. “There is only one partnership that works, the one between my wife and I.” What Joe told me has stuck with me for years and any time I think about partnerships, I think about Joe. I think that Joe was right in many regards(especially with my wife), but I feel that the partnerships that we, as builders and designers, enter in to with clients and the trades, can be established properly so that all parties are successful.

I have been plagued most of my life by trusting people until they disappoint or fail to follow through, which has led to me being a bit complacent on getting all aspects of the project clearly defined on paper. Whether the responsibility is fiduciary or task-oriented, having a roadmap to execution is imperative. I am not here to tell anyone how to do this, but rather, I encourage you to put handshakes aside and throw emotions out of the window, and put operational and financial responsibilities on paper. This will save relationships and make all of us more successful.

Collaboration on projects for our clients includes many companies and individuals. All involved must have clearly defined roles based on their aptitude to implement techniques defined by proper design and construction methods. If everyone comes to the table with all egos set aside, the strengths and weaknesses should be established before the shovels hit the dirt. If everyone has been honest, establishing who does what task, should be easy to delegate. There are so many moving parts to many of these projects that Tributary members are involved with, that each party involved, must have clearly defined responsibilities. By not doing this, we run the risk of harming the relationships as well as the work. Beyond that, we continue to tarnish an industry that has been plagued by mediocrity. Let’s put a line in the sand and rise above the industry norms and excel at our craft. Practice this craft with integrity at the forefront of all decisions and methods. We are all fortunate to be in a field that can be so rewarding, don’t take for granted.

— Nick Buchholz of Basin Pool Design