Filling back yards with watery retreats

Couple expands, moving to fiberglass pools

Small business

July 17, 2000|By Stacey Hirsh | Stacey Hirsh,SUN STAFF

Nearly every two weeks, one or both of the Gulczynskis watch a crane pluck up what looks like a 1 1/2 -ton upended bowl, flip it over, swoop it above a hole in somebody's back yard and nestle it in.

Only it's not a bowl. It's a swimming pool.

Denise and Luke Gulczynski own Aloha Inground Pools Inc., a Howard County fiberglass pool company. And they're spending the summer filling back yards across the region with watery retreats.

"It's instant gratification," Luke Gulczynski said.

The couple started Aloha in October and put their first pool into the ground a month later.

"When you see that giant pool, it's hard not to get excited," said Randy Shaw, waiting for his pool to be installed on a recent afternoon.

The Gulczynskis have been in the swimming pool business since 1992, when they bought Caribbean Clear Inc., which is still in business. Carribbean Clear does pool rehabilitation and resurfacing. It also does pool water purification using copper/silver electrodes, a method that sharply reduces the level of chlorine in pool water.

"We both like to swim, we both like pools," Denise Gulczynski said, "and we both hate chlorine."

Caribbean Clear seemed a perfect match. Denise Gulczynski, who worked for insurance companies, wanted her own business. Her husband, who is allergic to chlorine, knew all about water pumps and water pressure because he is a Baltimore firefighter.

Seven years later, after consumers began asking the Gulczynskis if they sold hot tubs, they took the plunge into spas and pools, and established Aloha.

After years of maintaining concrete pools at Caribbean Clear, the Gulczynskis wanted to sell only fiberglass pools because they are a better investment and require less maintenance than those made of concrete, they said.

"Simply put, if you spill something on your countertop, you wipe it up," Luke Gulczynski said. "If you spill something on your garage floor, it's a whole different story."

The two businesses have been profitable for the Gulczynskis. Aloha subcontracts its pool installations to Caribbean Clear. The pools range from $20,000 to $35,000, including installation, which takes about two weeks, and the Gulczynskis estimate that sales this year for both companies will total about $500,000.

Both businesses, headquartered in Woodstock, employ seven workers combined. Although there is a swimming pool at the companies' headquarters, it's above ground: The Gulczynskis haven't had time to install their own pool.

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