Venture Cover Magazine London Ontario
California Spa & Fitness
California Spa & Fitness was first developed as a secondary residential division of a large commercial pool construction company called Pool People. Hydropool Industries owned by the same company, in Mississauga Ontario, where they continue to build world class hot tubs to this day. The first California Spa & Fitness store launched in 1985 in North York, Ontario, during a time when the California lifestyle movement was popular with Canadians. They opened up shop in London, Ontario late 1997, a store which set the benchmark for the entire franchise.
The hot tub market was a smoking hot commodity for residential use and exploded Hydropool’s business, giving them a fourfold take in market share over the next eight years. Best known for hot tubs and swim spas, at the peak of California Spa & Fitness’s operations, they had six stores across the GTA and South Western Ontario. Then in 2006, as a division of Hydropool Industries, they were converted into Hydropool corporate operations and dropped fitness equipment from their product lines.
This corporate transition was not accepted by the general manager of the London store, Tom Sampson, and he decided to keep the California Spa & Fitness brand. The London store decided to grow their fitness department rather than cut it, and brought in only the best lines of fitness equipment. Now co-owner and General Manager of the oldest independent hot tub and fitness retailer in Canada Tom Sampson, Robert Sampson, and Fred Parreira are at the helm of operations.
Consumer supply and retail go back many generations in the Sampson family. Tom is a second generation retail professional, getting his start in home building supplies with his father who operated a Buildall store in the 1950’s and 1960’s. By the 1990’s, Tom opened his own bathroom and whirlpool store, and began incorporating hot tubs.
Tom’s son, Robert, first worked for his father during high school. Having an innate knack for marketing, he eventually became the Sales and Marketing Manager for the company. He has spent much of his own career working with various media and technology in other businesses, eventually working his way back with his father. Robert’s work in digital media combined with traditional marketing has helped California Spa & Fitness stay up-to-date in today’s competitive South Western Ontario market.
Fred Parreira got his start in the industry at Canadian Tire in the 1970s. After opening his own fitness store in the early 1990s, he became known as a fitness guru around the city of London. He started working with California Spa & Fitness in 2011 becoming one of their best sales people and the official Fitness Specialist. Fred is a Power House of an individual, maintaining a regimented healthy lifestyle that keeps him fit and youthful. FredParreira
“Fred is constantly trying to better himself in business, making him a fierce competitor in an already competitive pool and hot tub business. With his fitness expertise, we can provide excellent advice to customers on both spa and fitness equipment.”
Their jingle “The look good, feel good store” made California Spa & Fitness a household name in the region and their dedication to being the top retailer of spa and fitness equipment has made them a nationally recognized industry leader.
Professionalism, knowledgeable staff, and exceptional customer service are what set them apart from the competition. They understand that their customers are making a major investment in their homes, and in their lives.
“Our products, by nature are part of a lifestyle that people want to bring into their homes. Sometimes it takes weeks, months or even years before they’re ready to commit, but unlike other major purchases, such as cars or electronics, our products can last a decade or two.” CaloforniaSpa2
While much of their business comes from empty nesters or retired couples, there is a steady growth in younger families wanting to incorporate the spa and fitness lifestyle into their homes. Helping customers plan, purchase, and look after the equipment allows the California Spa & Fitness team to develop ongoing relationships with their customers.
“We know that our customers are our best salespeople. So when someone walks into our store, they can be assured of the professionalism and care they will receive from everyone that works here.” And they have a blast doing it.
“We try not to take things too seriously. I mean, come on, how many jobs do you get to work at in shorts and flip flops surrounded by pools and fitness equipment all day? Let’s just say, we take full advantage of the toys that we sell. We all love our jobs, and we have fun doing it!”