Charles Crowell semi-retires after nearly a half century of operating Crowell Pools and Spas
Charles Crowell, Sr., speaks via phone from the front porch of a Bob Evans restaurant in Florida. He is in the middle of the first vacation he had taken in a long time. “If you’re in the swimming pool business, you don’t have time to play golf and you don’t have time to go anywhere,” he says. “You’ve got to take care of the store.”
Crowell is enjoying semi-retirement after nearly 50 years of running Crowell Pools and Spas, a family business located on Lone Oak Road in Paducah. The Kentucky native began running the store in 1967 out of his garage. Now, the business not only sells in-ground and above-ground pools, but it has also expanded into patio furniture, spas, and even swimwear.
A preacher’s son, Crowell says he grew up in Symsonia and became a partner in a concrete business in Toledo, Ohio, shortly after graduating high school. During the next several years, he laid concrete while also finishing apprenticeship school, falling in love, and getting married. He says he was later drafted into the United States Army then left in 1964, returning to work in western Kentucky. Joe Ford, his former basketball coach, and Barry Phillips, a Louisville pool professional, helped him get started, and he worked for businesses such as general contractor Ray Black & Son.
Eventually, people began inquiring about swimming pools. So, in 1967, Crowell Pools and Spas began providing summer fun for area residents. Crowell says he worked out of his garage at first and then built a store in 1983. In 1987, he opened a satellite store, and about nine years later, he opened his current location on Lone Oak Road.
“We tried to do what was right, and we tried to sell the top-quality products, and treat people like we wanted to be treated,” he says and then adds, “That’s what made us successful and blessed.”
Over the years, Crowell and his wife raised four children who all eventually worked at their father’s store. In 2012, Crowell decided to slow down, and he began to leave more of the operational duties to two of his children, Tracy Wallace and Charles “Chipper” Crowell, Jr.
“It’s been wonderful,” Wallace says. “I have nothing but respect and honor for him and consider it a privilege to come and work for him and get to see him every day. It’s been great.”
Now that his children have lightened his workload, Crowell says he loves the increase in his free time, but he still enjoys the business. He especially loves his customers.
“I love to go into the store, and after no time, old customers come in,” he says. “Maybe now, we’re putting in pools that are actually for their grandchildren.”