Dynasties today were once mere dreams, birthed from sweat equity and ingenuity of our forefathers. One company, Rec Warehouse, came from humble beginnings to now a household name in Georgia, USA. The first iteration of Rec Warehouse began in 1974 when brothers Gary and Don Doebler decided to open a store selling above ground pools during the summer and pool tables in the winter. The first store was in North Tonawanda, New York and named Recreational Distributors Warehouse. Both men had experience working in the swimming pool industry and realized between them, there was a wealth of knowledge to be leveraged into a business selling directly to consumers. Understanding what was required for an above ground pool to be successfully installed and enjoyed by families, the brothers focused on providing only the best experience for customers.
Soon the business could afford to hire a new employee, Don’s son David. The family business model was working well and created a welcoming space for customers. In 1980, a second store was opened in Tampa, Florida.
The Move South
Opening a store in Florida was considered risky at the time because industry leaders believed the state to be an in-ground only market. However, the family business model, dedication to service, and authentic expertise translated well to this new market and new stores were opened throughout the state. The success of the stores in Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, St. Petersburg, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Daytona, and Orlando all continued to prove just how wrong the industry had been about the viability of above ground pools in Florida.
In 1985 the company again expanded, this time into the Georgia market. Stores opened in Norcross, Jonesboro, and Kennesaw. By 2005, this small family business built on a deep understanding of the recreational experiences customers craved had 34 stores in eight states with a combined revenue of $164 million.
When experts and critics were convinced above ground pools couldn’t be popularized in the south, the Doebler family dared to prove them wrong. Recognizing the need for high-quality swimming pools affordable enough for all families to own and enjoy, the Rec Warehouse team made the bold move south.
Redefining Home Recreation
Making above ground pools an affordable option throughout the south was only part of the story. As Rec Warehouse continued to grow it began offering a wide array of recreational equipment. Above ground swimming pools and pool tables continued to be a primary focus but hot tubs, outdoor kitchens, saunas, misting fans, tanning beds, and outdoor furniture are also part of creating a truly amazing home recreation experience.
In the early 1980s, the Doeblers realized the potential of the hot tub market – it was an emerging industry primarily located in California. The high cost of shipping hot tubs to the east coast would make them prohibitively expensive for the customer. Yet, the family knew the experience of soaking in a hot tub was relaxing wanted to share the experience with customers.
The owners began manufacturing a signature hot tub line to sell in the Rec Warehouse stores, which allowed them to substantially lower the average cost to consumers and gave them complete oversight on quality control. It was easy to pivot when consumers gave valuable feedback on the products and quickly add new innovations to the line. As a result, Rec Warehouse became an industry leader in the southeast with more than 200,000 hot tub sales!
An Evolving Legacy
The last of the original owners retired in 1995, yet the family business continues. The very first employee, David, is now the president of Atlanta-based company, which is now overseen by him and three of the children.
In 2011, the company evolved again. In addition to its three Atlanta locations, the business began focusing on e-commerce. Its website, RecWarehouse.com, has allowed the company to showcase employees’ expertise and reach a larger market. The company continues to offer above ground pools, spas, hot tubs, pool tables, tanning beds, saunas, outdoor furniture, outdoor kitchens, misting fans, and recreational accessories to complete any outdoor setting.
The company’s constant willingness to provide the highest quality equipment and services to customers has allowed it to grow over the years. The initiative to take risks and move into what was perceived as an inhospitable market allowed the team to bring the family fun of owning an above ground pool to an entirely new region of the country.
In addition, the staff’s willingness to take on the challenge of manufacturing a proprietary hot tub line made the industry accessible to people who would otherwise not have been able to afford the experience. Now, as the company continues to expand its online offerings and presence it is ensuring greater accessibility to an even wider array of customers.