1971The year is 1971.

John “Jack” Perry is enjoying a successful career as an engineer with Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) in Lynchburg, Virginia. He is well on his way to  a long and fruitful career with one of the area’s premier employers.

The future for Jack and wife Nancy is crystal-clear. Stay on track, raise their three children, retire down the road a bit and enjoy life.

And then, one might say, Jack went off the deep end.


A friend of his, a former B&W employee, had moved to Raleigh, N.C., and started a pool business. Always the industrious one, Jack purchased a pool kit and determined to install it in the back yard (see photo). He enjoyed the job so well he decided he wanted to do it again. And again. And again.

He proceeded to dip his toe in the pool business, incorporating Perry Pools in 1972. For several years, he held his full-time position at B&W and installed pools in his spare time. He and Nancy operated Perry Pools out of their basement before opening the current location on Fort Avenue in 1974.

The community responded. More and more people decided that having a pool in their back yard was a good idea. Demand grew. Finally, in 1978, Jack had to choose between his career as a company engineer and his calling as a pool entrepreneur. In his 19th year with B&W, he had to choose between being eligible for retirement the following year and creating a family-run enterprise with no corporate benefits.


He made the obvious choice: he dove into Perry Pools … taking Nancy and their three children right along. Jack’s penchant was installing pools and building computer systems; that meant someone else had to handle staffing, advertising and operations. That “someone else” was Nancy. Son John, then in high school, pitched in, as well, helping service and install pools. Daughter Kitty also began working in the store in the mid-70s.

To mitigate off-season drop-offs, Jack expanded the business to include wood stoves, kerosene heaters, gas logs, glass doors and other cold weather products, all marketed under the banner of the Fireside Shop.  Roughly half of the store was devoted to pools – and later spas – while the other half featured winter products.

The diversification proved successful – Jack and company purchased the Fort Avenue building soon thereafter, expanding it multiple times over the years to accommodate new inventory. As markets ebbed and flowed, Jack and Nancy would adjust inventory and services to offer new solutions … patio furniture, chimney cleaning, spas, billiards, darts, game tables and other novelties.


Jack’s innovation was not limited to the pool industry. He saw the potential for information technology to provide a competitive advantage. In the late 1970’s, he wrote what is believed to be the first water analysis program in the industry – software that could provide instructions for improving pool water conditions. In the 1980’s, he implemented a computerized inventory system, when most retail industries were still tracking the movement of product with paper receipts and ledgers.

The 5,000-square-foot Fort Avenue showroom today is a testimony to Jack’s vision and Nancy’s wise management, both carried on by John, who committed full-time to the family business in 1983 and now serves as its President. It features the region’s only billiards showroom, exclusive lines of portable spas and patio furniture, unique outdoor cooking solutions and, of course, the latest in pools and recreational living.

In the same spirit of innovation that led to our founding, we continue to offer new ways to enhance the lifestyle of our customers. This will always be our calling, as it was for Jack more than 40 years ago.

We invite you to dive into a new world of relaxation and recreation. Once you do, you’ll know why Jack chose the pool over the predictable.