A POOL RETAIL, SERVICE & REPAIR FRANCHISE FOUNDED IN FLORIDA AND MAKING WAVES FOR 45+ YEARS
We started in 1975 when our founder, Fred Thomas, opened our first location in Clearwater, Florida. Over the next 45+ years, we’ve grown to more than 250 stores nationwide. Dive in for the full journey from then to now.
In 1974, shortly after moving to Florida from Ohio, Fred Thomas was travelling throughout Florida as an independent sales representative. He was selling everything from barbecue grills and wooden shelves to ceramic figurines, even a line of wood glue. Along this journey, he met a producer of swimming pool chemicals that had no customers in Florida, and Fred agreed to become his sales agent in Florida.
Fred jumped on the new business opportunity, and after a few months, he had an order from a regional chain of drug stores. But as fate would have it, the order was cancelled after it was shipped, and Fred was responsible for accepting delivery and paying for it with money he did not have. Fred rented a small warehouse to receive the pool chemicals and supplies, ran classified ads to sell it directly to the public, and opened the warehouse on the weekends. He coined the name “Pinch A Penny” merely as a means of having a name that connoted a discount.
The “Pinch A Penny Warehouse Outlet” was an immediate success. Pool owners came from miles away and products were selling out fast. By 1975, Fred realized that he should make the warehouse a fulltime retail store, discontinued his pursuits as an independent sales-representative, and Pinch A Penny became his full-time enterprise. He continued to place more orders for pool chemicals and supplies; and took the time to learn proper pool care and repairs.
By 1976, Fred was ready to grow and open more stores to meet the demand from pool owners from neighboring cities. Thus, began a franchising concept that changed the landscape of the swimming pool industry. Fred knew that the only way to provide exceptional customer service at every location, and to be able to finance growth, he needed other families that could share in the work and in the profits. By the end of 1976, nine families joined him with opening their own Pinch A Penny store. Fred offered training, helped secure inventory, helped find locations, helped them open their stores, and provided the advertising. The new franchises ran their businesses and the success formula from the very first store multiplied.
For the next 15 years, Fred and his franchise family grew to roughly 90 locations throughout Florida, using the same basic principles he used in 1976. By 1990, his son John, who grew up working by his father’s side, working in stores from the age of 8, was now back from college. John reintegrated into the business on a full-time basis helping to continue his father’s legacy.
By 1994, John became President, and in 1998, his father made him the Chief Executive Officer. From 1990 through today, John has continued to lead the organization’s growth along with a team of executives that is unmatched. And while the systems used for training, advertising, product procurement, and store development have become more significant and refined, the roots and foundation of what was started in 1975 remain at the core of our existence. Work ethic, integrity, having a servant’s heart, and providing value to pool owners is what leads to success and stability for Pinch A Penny franchise-partners and to their employee/associates.
The “Family-Business” model is alive and well, and even after 45+ years, Pinch A Penny grows and succeeds by helping families invest in themselves, and as a result, our family grows!
Hear from Multi-Unit Franchise Owner Karey Burek on how Pinch A Penny’s customer service translates to customer loyalty.
If you’re looking to invest in a time-tested business model with unparalleled support from industry experts, Pinch A Penny is the right choice for you.
OUR TEAM IS YOUR TEAM
Customer service and expertise have always been the keys to our success, starting with how our executive team supports Franchise Owners as they join the Pinch A Penny family.
John C. Thomas
President and Chief Executive Officer
Fred Thomas, John’s father, opened the first Pinch A Penny store in 1975. Growing up in the family business, he worked weekends and summers in the stores, warehouse, and office through high school, giving him a unique perspective of what it’s like to work in all aspects of the Pinch A Penny business. After completing his formal education, John returned to Pinch A Penny in a full-time capacity. In 1994, he became president of the company, beginning the transition into the second-generation of family ownership.
John became chief executive officer of Pinch A Penny in 1998. His holistic approach and deep understanding of Pinch A Penny’s business model and operations have been driving forces of the brand’s tremendous growth and success. Today, Pinch A Penny is the largest swimming pool retail, maintenance and repair franchise in the country, operating more than 250 locations throughout the Southeastern U.S. and Texas. In his day-to-day oversight, John directs all high-level aspects of the business including operations, marketing, merchandising, franchising, administration, and product procurement.
James P. Eisch
Executive VP and Chief Operations Officer
Jim began his journey with Pinch A Penny in 1992 when he was brought in as chief financial officer. In that role, he oversaw all financial aspects of the company and, successfully positioned Pinch A Penny for the vertical integration of manufacturing and distribution as well as the retail surge of franchising growth it experienced in the years following. His expertise and impactful guidance throughout that period led to his appointment of executive vice president in 1999, and subsequently expanded to chief operations officer. For more than 25 years, Jim’s extensive financial knowledge and thorough understanding of Pinch A Penny’s operations has helped the brand and its franchisees navigate through changing consumer preferences, advances in technology, and economic ups-and-downs. Today, Jim directly oversees the management of manufacturing, distribution, marketing, and operations of Pinch A Penny’s 250+ franchised locations.
Chief Development Officer
Michael became Pinch A Penny’s chief development officer in 2018 to lead the brand’s unit growth strategy, franchisee recruitment and overall brand development. A franchise industry veteran with a distinguished career spanning more than 25 years, Michael has held senior level executive positions with several leading franchise concepts. His extensive understanding of the franchising industry and ability to translate that into individual franchisee success, has allowed him to consistently achieve exceptional growth and improved financial results for each brand’s franchise system.
Vice President of Marketing
Troy joined Pinch A Penny as director of marketing in 2015 where he helped lead and execute several campaigns and initiatives including the development and launch of Pinch A Penny’s mobile app. His innovative and strategic approach has delivered substantial results for Pinch A Penny’s franchise system, which led to him being named vice president of marketing in 2019. In his current role, Troy provides strategic direction to the promotions and analytics, digital and field marketing, creative services, e-commerce and customer service teams in order to drive traffic and sales into all of Pinch A Penny’s franchised locations. Prior to joining Pinch A Penny, Troy spent five years as the director of marketing for RaceTrac where he developed a deep understanding of viable marketing solutions for large, nationally-recognized companies.
Adam S. Heflin
Adam has helped new franchisees come into the Pinch A Penny brand since 2003. He oversees the brand’s immersive discovery process, which includes application review, follow-up calls and in-person meetings, as well as business plan development for all prospective franchisees. His careful and methodical practice in finding the right franchisees for Pinch A Penny’s franchise business model have proven instrumental to the brand’s 100-unit growth over the past 15+ years. In addition to the discovery process, Adam is responsible for franchise marketing and sales, hosting Discovery Days, and all other aspects of prospect approval. Previously, Adam held various positions in the retail and franchising industries where he gained the experience to successfully drive results for a company like Pinch A Penny that combines both.
A tenured legal professional with a background in corporate law, Kate began serving as Pinch A Penny’s general counsel in March 2017. She oversees all legal aspects of the company’s franchise operation and works with outside counsel on other franchise and corporate-related matters. Prior to Pinch A Penny, Kate served as corporate counsel to Tampa Bay-headquartered companies, HSN and Kforce. She earned her law degree from Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America and her bachelor’s degree from George Washington University.
Franchise Training and Development Manager
Peter has been with Pinch A Penny for over a decade, starting out in operations as an assistant manager for a corporate store. After becoming store manager and general manager of corporate retail locations, he began working for Pinch A Penny’s corporate office as a field support specialist. He quickly rose through the ranks to become the company’s franchise training and development manager. Peter’s extensive knowledge of franchise operations and expertise in the pool industry has proved invaluable in setting Pinch A Penny franchisees up for success. He oversees the brand’s comprehensive training and support program, which teaches new franchisees the ins and outs of operating a Pinch A Penny franchise. For existing operators, Peter also provides continued education opportunities and other tools needed to help them successfully operate and grow their Pinch A Penny businesses.