This year marks the 40th anniversary of Aqua Rec’s, a family-run business.
Aqua Rec’s, a local business in Washington that sells products such as spas, stoves (including parts), swimming pools, and chemicals for both spas and pools. In addition to these products, the store offers several services, which includes cleaning and tending to swimming pools and spas. Aqua Rec’s also sells and installs its products into customers’ homes rather than having sub-contractors do the work.
With its headquarters in Tacoma, there are several Aqua Rec’s stores across the state. The new building the owners bought in Gig Harbor, at 3123 56th St. NW, was renovated in April. It is currently open and operating.
Bruce Shamp, one of the original founders of the business, has given up his ownership to four of his six children — Byron, Caleb, Joshua and Michelle Kovacs — and his son-in-law, Chris Kovacs.
When Aqua Rec’s was just a startup company, Shamp opened the first store with his former partner. It was originally his partner’s idea to open a business; they each owned half. In 1990, Bruce bought out his partner and took full ownership of the business.
Shamp’s children have lifelong experience and knowledge in sales of the family-owned company.
“The kids worked through childhood to help pay for college,” he said.
Shamp was the primary owner until 2008, when his children bought the store from him, although he still works as advisor/project manager. Shamp’s new position allows him to answer any questions and give advice on any issues that may pop up while running the company.
“It’s wonderful, it’s challenging,” said Shamp while describing working with his family. “Each (family member) has different talents, and we need each one.”
Shamp admits that in a family-run business, there will be hardships; there will be complications and troubles that arise.
“Failure is evident, forgiveness is huge,” he said.
If one cannot learn to forgive, particularly in a family-operated business such as Aqua Rec’s, the relationship of the family can be negatively affected, in turn, impacting the business.
“If it’s family-owned and operated, there’s more pride,” stated Shamp when explaining the differences between a family-run business and one without familial relations. “There is the potential to do a better job.”
Shamp wishes to keep Aqua Rec’s a family-run business, but “if the kids wanted to do something different, then I support that,” he said.
Succession planning was emphasized by Shamp. He described how his children are around 40 years old, and that it is never too early to start thinking about the future of the company. A positive belief Shamp has of family-operated businesses is that the customers are helping small business owners rather than barons of big businesses.