Achieving the status of an industry leader and forging a lasting legacy is every entrepreneur’s dream. However, reaching the status demands more than just aspirations, it requires a blend of tenacity, innovation, and a resilient vision. California Pools exemplifies a brand that has successfully navigated 70 years of changing market trends to achieve its reputation as an industry leader.  


Building a Foundation

It began with a mere desire for Wayne Steimle to have a pool in his backyard. However, there was a problem, he could not find anyone with enough knowledge or experience to build one. The then high school physics teacher took it upon himself to make it happen. He gathered his students and three months later, he successfully built his own pool. His work caught the attention of his neighbors who then wanted a Steimle-built pool for their own yards.

Alas, Wayne left his teaching career behind and California Pools was founded in 1952. Now, 72 years later, the brand is at the forefront as a leader in the swimming pool industry.

While the brand has now been passed down through three generations of Steimles, California Pools has remained true to its foundation. When it was time for Wayne to step down, his son Doug took the helm of the brand. Following Doug’s tenure, it was time for Doug’s son Ryder to take the reins. 

Typically, when a company experiences changes in leadership, one might anticipate shifts in its company culture. Contrary to this expectation, California Pools presents a unique case. Despite the transition of leadership across generations of the Steimle family, the core family-oriented culture has preserved. This unwavering commitment to foundational values has contributed strongly to California Pools exceptional focus on customer service. 

Following Wayne’s growth of the company, Doug stepped in to put the emphasis on sales growth. He brought with him the passion that significantly elevated the brand’s visibility and recognition in the industry.


A New Direction

When the recession hit in 2006, which proved to also be a depression in the pool industry, it was Ryder’s time to step up to the plate as he took over as Chief Executive Officer of California Pools. After taking over from his dad, he saw it as a chance to strengthen the foundation even more. From there, Ryder took the company through steady growth to tighten the company’s grip on the industry.

However, the most substantial shift under Ryder’s leadership occurred when the company switched to a franchise model last year. Yet, this created a learning curve for a brand as it required California Pools to reset its proven methods that had been cemented after 70 years in business. Nevertheless, with the dedicated California Pools team behind him, Ryder pushed forward and California Pools now sits in a position of strength within the residential pool construction industry.


Organization and Technology Prove Pivotal

Another way the brand has continued to strive for greatness under the Steimle name is through its systems and processes. By utilizing a robust project management system and book keeping, franchisees are able to keep updated on the timeline of each project while staying profitable

California Pools strives for innovation through collaboration to remain at the top. This also includes utilizing technology such as an alert that will notify an owner if someone falls in their pool, ultimately putting safety at the front of mind. The company is constantly looking at ways to get ahead in technology that makes life easier for franchisees and customers alike.

A mere 14 years after taking over the company during a difficult time, Ryder was faced once again with navigating another unheralded time with COVID-19 in 2020. This created another opportunity to persevere and lead the company in the right direction. This period actually helped the pool business boom, with more people trying to make their homes a paradise in a time of uncertainty.


Industry Giant

During his 18 years as CEO of California Pools, Ryder has learned the importance of focusing on the controllable aspects of running a company. By doing that, employees have been set up for success and continued on a path of growth within the company. 

When Wayne founded California Pools, he could not have imagined how successful the brand would become. From what began in his backyard to now being featured on the TV show Pool Kings and building more than 80,000 pools with 24 locations stretching 6 states, the brand is a staple in the industry.

Every decision is guided with the intent to carry on the legacy set by Wayne. Adapting to changing times is critical for any brand to become a leader, and California Pools will continue to stand at the forefront of the industry for years to come.