Leasure Pools: ‘The pandemic was a challenge, and today is no different.’

The dream of having a swimming pool in your garden is one that’s coming true for more and more people. This hasn’t escaped the notice of Leisure Pools – the Aarschot-based SME has grown to become one of the largest pool builders in the Benelux in just 12 years.

Filip De Weer has been an entrepreneur for some time now. After selling his previous business, he started looking for a new challenge in 2010. ‘I had some knowledge of civil engineering and wanted to explore the idea of importing and distributing high-quality swimming pools in Belgium. Following an in-depth market survey, I approached Explore Industries from Australia, which is the world's largest swimming pool manufacturer.’

Explore Industries is a family-owned group and has a worldwide network of dealers to distribute its swimming pools. ‘When we made contact with David Pain, the owner and chairman
of the group, he was very welcoming and we soon developed a mutual sense of trust,’ Filip says. This marked the start of Leisure Pools’ role as distributor for the Benelux, with the aim of branching out into the European market from there.

From an start-up to a close-knit family business

The company targeted the right niche at the right time. ‘We began as a start-up with a team of eight people. They were responsible not just for importing and distributing swimming pools to B2B customers in the construction sector, but also for supplying, installing and maintaining swimming pools for private customers. The early years were hectic and we quickly found ourselves short-handed. Since then, our workforce has grown to 35 staff organised into specialised teams. We now have a dedicated service focused solely on maintenance, for example.’

Filip's wife Evelien Coppenrath works for the company and concentrates on marketing, and three of their four children are now also actively involved in the business. ‘The children grew up with the company. Clearly our stories must have had some appeal as they’ve slowly gotten involved little by little,’ she says.
‘Our twin daughters Ellen and Marit now handle the marketing, which means we need fewer and fewer external partners. Our eldest son Lennart runs his own company focusing on the market for replacement roller shutter systems and heat pumps, so we’ve gradually grown into a real family business,’ Evelien explains proudly.

During the coronavirus pandemic, it was all hands on deck for pool builders and Leisure Pools was no exception. The number of orders grew spectacularly. ‘It was a challenging period because we suddenly had to scale up very quickly in order to keep up with market demand,’ says Evelien. ‘On top of that, sudden growth also has a downside. The energy crisis and mounting interest rates have caused demand to fall sharply since last year, so we’ve been forced to restructure our organisation once again. Taking a step back to move forwards, so to speak.’ Since the very beginning, the SME has been able to rely on KBC Commercial Banking as a partner to facilitate growth. 

We were assigned a relationship manager to look after our business needs, and he’s really been a proactive partner, supporting us with financial advice and offering guidance on strategic decisions for the future

Filip De Weer - CEO Leisure Pools

Kristof Janssen is the relationship manager for Leisure Pools at KBC Commercial Banking. He praises the resilience of the SME: ‘The management team at Leisure Pools is continuously adapting its strategy to changing market conditions, which is much easier said than done. They’re also brave enough to make bold decisions in difficult situations. These were first thoroughly examined by external advisers such as KBC. The company hasn’t developed tunnel vision based on its past decisions. I’m sure the De Weer family has a bright future ahead.’

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