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Theodora Sergiou
Theodora Sergiou

How long have you been in this industry?  
I have been in the pool and spa industry for over 30 years. I began at age 16 when my parents opened up our first store; however from my birth I have been visiting pool construction  sites with my mother to bring parts, lunch or paperwork to my father. Nicholas Pools is now celebrating 50 years in the pool business.

Did you have another career before this one?  
When I graduated with my MBA degree I left the U.S. and moved to Cyprus where I was a professor of marketing and management at a university. When I [came back] to the U.S., I returned to my position at Nicholas Pools. My parents wanted to retire and my husband, Sotiris, and I purchased the business from them 14 years ago. Five years ago I began teaching at Georgian Court University as an adjunct professor. Now I am also the internship coordinator of the school of business at GCU.

What appeals to you about this industry?
The pool and spa industry is very unique. You have the power to transform an ordinary backyard into a magical place that brings the family together; a place where people will go so that they can put their stress behind them and swim the night away. A pool or spa allows families to spend time together having fun, exercising or relaxing. Building people's dreams is a wonderful experience.

What has been the biggest obstacle to being a woman in business?  
Work/life balance has been my biggest obstacle. As a mother of three it has been challenging to give my full attention to my family. The business is seasonal and at times it has been difficult to leave the store to attend school or sporting events. There were many times I arrived late for a special celebration because I had to take care of a customer who was walking in as I was about to walk out the door. People do not realize how quickly time goes by and how important it is for us to make an effort to be there for our children.

What is the most rewarding thing about what you do?
The most rewarding thing about building a pool for someone is seeing the end result. After all is said and done people love their pools. It brings families together and much happiness is spent around a pool. Families and friends gather to celebrate graduations, birthdays and holidays all in their backyard. Seeing customers happy and enjoying their pool means a lot to me. Our customers become part of the family when they buy a Nicholas Pool.  

How do you define success?
Success is to be able to walk into work every day knowing you are making a difference  in people's lives. We have been through many difficult years and we were able to keep our business and employees. We invested back into the company where many would have thrown in the towel. Being named by NJ Monthly Magazine as a Top 25 Leading Woman Entrepreneur in 2014 was a highlight and cemented the notion of success for me. Giving back is also very important and goes with the theme of success. If you have gotten to the point of being able to help others, you should. The ETTWomen “Power of Connections  360 Conference” is something that allows me to give back. I have partnered with the ETTWomen to help women entrepreneurs. The biannual conference helps fund women who want to start their own business. The profit is used to mentor, educate, train and support women to be successful entrepreneurs.

What is something you can’t live without?
I cannot live without my phone. Having my phone allows me to be in contact with my staff, my customers and my business  partners. I am able to view emails, send responses and get things done through- out the day. It helps keep things moving along. It also helps me keep in contact with relatives all over the world through social media.

How do you unwind after a stressful day?
My favorite way to unwind after a stressful day is to sit by the pool with a glass of wine, enjoying good conversation with my husband while watching the kids jump in and enjoy the pool. We open the pool in April and close in October, it is the perfect opportunity to bring everyone together at the end of the day to reconnect, have fun and relax.  

Nicholas Pools, Toms River, N.J. (732) 505-0404, NicholasPools.com

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 19, Issue 11 (May 2019). 
For more info on House & Home magazine, click here
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