Meet the Pool Cover Specialist: Eric Miller
February 12, 2024
Eric Miller joined Pool Patrol six years ago looking for a new adventure, but he found a fulfilling career. Learn more about what makes servicing automatic pool covers in B.C. a special opportunity for our team.
At Pool Patrol, we pride ourselves on not only our work but our great team. We take care of our employees, and they, in turn, take care of you and your automatic pool cover.
When, now manager of our Okanagan division, Eric Miller, joined our team in 2018 he had no idea pools even had auto covers. But with an extensive background in automotive mechanics and a love of the job and team, he found a new home and a new career at Pool Patrol. Get to know Eric:
You had never worked in automatic pool covers before; how did you wind up with Pool Patrol?
It was a complete fluke. I’m a Red Seal automotive and heavy-duty mechanic, and I was looking for a change. I had quit my job, and I was going to go travelling for a month, but the night before I left, I went for dinner with a friend and happened to meet [owner of Pool Patrol] Allan Horwood. We got to talking. He was looking for a guy in the Okanagan, and the timing worked out perfectly. I gave him a call when I got back to my trip a month later, and I've been on board ever since.
With this industry being completely new to you, what were your first impressions about the job?
I was nervous about it, and it felt like a complete shot in the dark. I liked the work, but I wasn't sure what kind of future there was in it—I didn't even know automatic pool covers were a thing that existed. But my mechanical knowledge came into use, and that worked out well. I'm really glad I gave it a shot because that was six years ago, and it turned into a great career! After a few weeks and a few months on the job, I really enjoyed it, and I could see a future here for myself.
I'm curious: what was it that sparked your interest in a new-to-you industry after meeting Allan in a chance encounter?
Well, that first night, we got to chatting, and I really liked the guy. Through talking with him, I had a good feeling that he was a good guy and would make a great boss to work for.
Six years later, you're still here. What did you end up loving about it?
There are quite a few things. Allan is one of them. He’s the best boss I've ever worked for. I knew that right off the bat and in just the first month or two. I knew it would work out because we just got along really well. That was great.
Doing the work itself, it’s fun and engaging. I loved that it was different from the shops. At an automotive shop, you have the same four walls and the same eight guys every day, whereas this was different. I was travelling around the Okanagan and other parts of British Columbia every day, going to multiple places and seeing beautiful scenery and lots of cool houses. Being outside was a huge bonus. I really enjoy being outdoors.
I also enjoy chatting with the clients, telling people how to maintain their cover and keep it going and if they need a new one. The client relationship wasn’t something I got to have in the automotive trade. I was in the shop all the time.
What do you think it is about Pool Patrol that sets them apart from other companies?
It's such a positive environment. There are no personality clashes. Allan is a very fair boss; if you need anything, it’s no problem at all. In some workplaces, you have to haggle or convince them to purchase a certain part or tool; it could be a song and dance to try to get what you need, but not here. There's a lot of trust in your employer. Allan always put a lot of faith and trust in me and I really appreciate that.
How was the learning curve when you were starting out?
There's been a bit of a curve, but it's fun. I enjoy the challenge of learning something new, and if something's broken, I like figuring out how to fix it. Once you get your head around how something works and coming from a mechanical background, that didn't take me very long. You also learn the little quirks of the different automatic pool covers we service. They do different things when they break.
I'm always learning. There's still stuff that comes up, for example, some interesting installs when people want pool builders to be pool cover installers. It can end up being a disaster, and we have to go in and fix it eventually.
What are some things that surprised you?
How many people have pool covers! That's surprising. It also surprised me that this transformed into a great and fulfilling career. I had no idea what to expect when starting out, and am so happy with how things have gone.
Do you have a favourite place where you've serviced a pool cover?
I enjoy it when we get the chance to head out to Vancouver Island, but everywhere here is so beautiful, so I have no complaints there.
Is there anything that you think people should know about pool covers, but they probably don't?
Keep your water level high. A lot of people drain their pool and then put their auto cover on. It doesn't work. We get the call every year—every week that my cover won't open, and it's usually because the water levels are down.
Don't use a pressure washer at close range. Pool covers are actually pretty easy to clean with just a pool brush and some soapy water.
And don't run them in -5 Celsius temperatures—anything under -3 or -4. They don't like that. We’ve had a few calls this winter.
We’ve shown people how much weight our automatic pool covers can hold when properly maintained (spoiler: it’s a lot). What’s the wildest thing you've seen on a pool cover?
The craziest thing I've heard of—I didn’t see it myself—was a story a supplier of ours shared that they received a call about two people who had driven their Jeep in the backyard and onto the pool cover…and it held. That’s probably the craziest thing I've heard, but I didn’t see it firsthand. For myself, it would just be wildlife.
You’re the manager of the Okanagan division; what brought you to Kelowna?
I’m originally from Ontario, but I moved to Kelowna when I was 18, and I've been here for about 17 years now because it's the best. It's the best. As soon as I finished high school, I packed up my little Honda and drove all the way out here just for the summer to see what it was like, and I just never left.
Pool Patrol has been installing automatic pool covers in British Columbia since 1995. If you’re curious about installing a pool cover on your pool, contact Pool Patrol today.
Video | December 22, 2023
The Okanagan’s Pool Patrol & Reflection Pools Address Dynamism Faced in the Pool Industry.
Pool Patrol’s owner, Allan Horwood, mixes up this episode with a guest: Reflection Pool’s owner, Owen W. They carry on the informal conversation on best practices and market changes that the Pool and Pool Cover industry in B.C. has witnessed over the past few years. Dive into Allan and Owen’s views on what the future holds in the finale of this insightful series.