Renovating or building a pool? Hire someone you can trust
By: Lee Stephens
If you’re planning on renovating or building a pool, it’s important that you be wary of dishonest companies that take your money and leave jobs unfinished, said Clearwater Pools & Patio owner Ken Manheimer.
Such practices, he said, are prevalent in the Sunshine State, where disreputable businesses can secure pricy contracts with customers, collect as much money as possible, do minimal work, file for bankruptcy and then reopen under new names to escape liability.
“In Florida, they make it easy, and there isn’t a lot of recourse to go after anybody,” he said. “It puts the customer in a very difficult position. They either have to spend all this extra money to finish the pool while not suing the company or leave the mess in their backyard until the lawsuit goes through, which takes forever.”
Customers should thoroughly research companies they may do business with, said Manheimer, whose own company has serviced South Florida for more than two decades. The Better Business Bureau is one good resource, he said, but most helpful of all is the Department of Business and Professional Regulations, which controls all licenses in the state.
“This way, you look at the license for the company that they’re using and make sure the name matches with somebody who works with the company,” he said. “A lot of times, they’re using someone else’s license. You want the license holder to be part of the company that you’re contracting.”
As a longtime professional who takes pride in his work, seeing honest customers being taken advantage of infuriated Manheimer, who was so bothered he restructured the way his company operates to better serve his clients.
Clearwater Pools & Patio takes less money on the front end of contracts. The company uses a pay schedule that coincides with a work schedule, with each project part broken down, ensuring complete transparency, timely work and no surprise costs.
“A lot of my competition likes to conveniently leave things out because, once your contract is permitted with them, you’re stuck,” he said.
“Whatever those extras are along the way, you have to pay them. I give everything up at the beginning, and it often leads to less money spent in the end.”
Founded in 1996, Clearwater Pools & Patio is a state-licensed and insured company that serves more than 400 clients throughout South Florida in Pinecrest, Coral Gables, Kendall, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay and the Falls.
In 2008, Manheimer, a Miami native who previously operated Dadeland Pool, purchased Clearwater Pools & Patio. Its excellent service has earned the company an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and an A rating on Angie’s List.
Clearwater Pools & Patio is one of the few companies in South Florida that provides construction services primarily in-house, using its own staff. Because subcontractors are rarely a factor, Manheimer and his crew can work faster and more efficiently, as there are seldom scheduling conflicts.
“I hand-pick people I know and trust to work with me, so on any job I’m bringing in a great crew that are fantastic at what they do,” he said. “We don’t bite off more than we can chew, and we complete things within reasonable timeframes.”
Services include pool renovation, comprehensive repairs, decks and water features, pool resurfacing, pool care, acid and chlorine washes, salt chlorinators, in-water stain removal, heaters, low-voltage LED safety lighting and eco-friendly equipment.
The company regularly sponsors charities and community initiatives including the Wounded Warrior Project, Miami Project and a “Don’t Text and Drive” campaign at Coral Reef High School.
“We’re a community company, and we’re all about South Florida,” he said. “We do what we can to grow Miami in a positive way, and that’s something we look at as a constant process and not a goal. We’re in it for the long run.”
Clearwater Pools & Patio is located at 12308 SW 117th Ct. For information, call 305-278-9395 or visit www.ClearwaterMiami.com.