Pool People – Tim Bareham – Managing Director at Cresta Leisure

Tim BarehamTim established Cresta Leisure in 1985, after being given the opportunity to import pool kits in to the UK market from South Africa. By the time the container was empty, towards the end of 1986, Cresta Leisure was a fully operational swimming pool contractor. Tim joined SPATA 25 years ago and has been an active member ever since. In 2000 he became SPATA President and has been an honorary SPATA Inspector for the past six years.

How has the industry changed during your time in it? From a pool construction point of view, finishing materials and customer desires have advanced considerably and I am pleased to say that we are rarely asked to quote for a blue pool with a 7ft deep end and 3ft shallow end anymore! From a service and shop sales point of view, the internet has been a disaster for the business. Potential customers visit the showroom, they take a picture of it with their mobile phone and say they will “think about it”. They then go home, find an on-line price and call you to see if you will sell it to them at that price.

What’s the best part of your job? Visiting a customer for the first time, visualising what the finished contract would look like and persuading them that they should adopt your proposals. It’s also rewarding to have a happy customer when it is all finished – particularly when they pay their bill on time!

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given? And by whom? Make sure you understand what you are doing. When we built our first commercial pool, I spent a long Friday in a smoke-filled office with the late Alan White from what was then known as Tralsa, now Astral. He would not allow me to leave until I fully understood commercial filtration, velocities of water through different size pipes and fittings and turnover rates. This has been invaluable to me for over 25 years.

What are the main challenges facing the pool industry at the moment? Obtaining a contract price that will allow you to do the job properly, without cutting corners and still make a profit. This is particularly relevant when you are having to meet all the health and safety and contractual requirements associated with high end contracts.

What direction do you see the industry heading in? I wish I knew! Pool products are available in many European Supermarkets and anyone can buy anything from the internet right now. This, coupled with the seasonality of the business makes it difficult to justify a pool shop with display site and shelves full of stock. But what is not readily available are the years of experience and expertise. I believe that wholesalers, installers and service engineers in our industry must work together to capitalise on this, and ensure that we are rewarded for professionalism.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of work? When time allows, my hobbies and interests are boating, golfing, travelling and eating!