SMALL BIZ OF THE MONTH

Great Lakes Spa & Wilson Electric

Can you provide me with a description of your business?
Wilson Electric and Great Lakes Spas are a family owned business. We do residential electrical work and we also sell Hot tubs and supplies for Pools and Hot tubs. Don Wilson is the owner and Master Electrician for Wilson Electric. Dawn Wilson is the owner of Great Lakes Spas.

How long have you been in business? Have you owned any other businesses?
In 1988 we put up a new building in Stanton to house Wilson Electric. Previous to that we were working our business out of our garage. I (Dawn) started taking calls and working the office for Wilson Electric.

How did you get started in this business?
In 1988 the economy was good and Hot tubs were a growing industry. We were getting more and more calls from people that had Hot tubs that needed someone to repair the electronic components in them. So I started researching where to find the parts needed to make these repairs. Don started searching for a Hot tub for himself. He talked to a few manufacturers in Michigan and found that if we purchased 3 hot tubs from Great Lakes Spas located in Holland Michigan at that time that we could get our hot tub at wholesale and we could sell the other 2 tubs for a little profit. So we did. The first two tubs sold easily so we ordered some more and the Hot tub business was born. Hot tub owners need chemicals to maintain the water quality in their tub so I found chemical companies where I could get and stock the needed supplies for our new Spa owners. In the mean time we started getting inquiries from pool owners as to the availability of pool supplies. My Spas chemical suppliers also carried Pool supplies so it was an easy addition to the offerings.

What was the biggest risk that you took?
In 1992 we decided to open another store in the Greenville area. We purchased a closed used car dealership north of Greenville on M91. The addition of this building meant I had to hire employees and train them to learn the pool and hot tub business. I was learning as I went had to hire employees that were smart enough and trustworthy enough help our business grow. We on the most part have been blessed with good employees.

In what ways are you involved with the community?
We are on the committee that runs Stanton Old Fashioned Days. This is a year round endeavor to get this event set up each year.

What was your biggest challenge?
Hiring good employees! I have high anxiety each time I have to interview potential employees. Our business is much more than a store where you walk in find what you need and walk out. We are daily educating our customers. We need to know our products and have to be able to educate our customer on how to keep their water chemistry in balance for comfort, sanitation and the longevity of the equipment. My employees must be smart because there is so much to learn. We have to communicate and help the customer solve their problems.

Why do your customers select you over your competitors?
We take the time one on one to help the customer with their needs. We service the equipment we sell and other brands of hot tubs also. Being our service man is also an electrician and we have over 28 years of experience we are able to solve most any problem we run across. We have no “hard sell” sales people like you will find in the big cities.

What is your biggest passion?
Happy customers and happy employees. I like finding new items for the stores to keep thing interesting. We in the last few years have started stocking more water toys. Everything from Squirt guns to Shock Rockers which are big round inflated seat where 4 to 6 people and set in and start the whole thing rocking. This one is great for the lake.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I went to college to be an Art teacher. And taught part time for 11 years. But that was a very hard time to find a full time art teaching job. I also had my own pottery studio in our Stanton store and took my work to art fairs around Michigan. But that was hard work packing and touting pottery to shows and it took up my weekends all summer. Eventually the pool and spa business started taking so much of my time the pottery went by the way side.

What do you predict this year for your business?
We have been working all winter sprucing up the stores getting in new stock. Fun new toys are in and on display and new hot tubs are on order to get the stores filled back up. We are hoping we will have a warmer year of weather the last couple of years have been cool so pools aren’t getting used as much and sales are slower.

Leave a Comment

    • Kristy
    • June 1, 2016

    The company I work for has used Great Lakes many times for repair work and they always do a great job with reasonable pricing!

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