Central Virginia’s Leader in Recreation and Leisure Solutions Since 1972!
The First Pool We Ever Installed Was Our Own. The Rest is History.
In 1971, John “Jack” Perry was enjoying a successful career as an engineer with Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) in Lynchburg, Virginia. He was well on his way to a long and fruitful career with one of the area’s premier employers. The future for Jack and his wife, Nancy, was crystal-clear. Stay on track, raise their three children, retire down the road a bit and enjoy life. And then…one might say that Jack went off the deep end.
Started From the Bottom (Of His House)
When Jack’s friend, a former B&W employee, moved to Raleigh, N.C., and started a pool business, Jack was inspired to purchase a pool kit and was determined to install it in his backyard. He enjoyed the project so well that he decided he wanted to do it again. And again. And again.
He incorporated 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 backyard 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.
Sink or Swim
He made the obvious choice and dove into Perry Pools … taking Nancy and their three children right along. It quickly became a family affair. Jack’s penchant was installing pools and building computer systems, while Nancy helped handle staffing, advertising, and operations. Their son John, who was in high school, also pitched in helping service and install pools. Their daughter Kitty also began working in the store in the mid-70s.
To compensate for the off-season, 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 the 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, including patio furniture, chimney cleaning, spas, and other outdoor living features.
Who Said Water and Electronics Don’t Mix?
Jack saw the potential for information technology to provide a competitive advantage in the pool industry, and in the late 1970s, 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 1980s, he implemented a computerized inventory system during a time when most retail industries were still tracking the movement of products 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, and Craig Millner, who went from running the retail side of the store to co-owner and vice president.
Become a Part of the Perry Pools Family Today
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 45 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.