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Val Toland is a 37-year veteran of the swimming pool construction business and owner of Classic Pools, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (925) 201-6120 or by email.

Val Toland

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Val Toland: Jumping in With Both Feet

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CONCORD — As an officer in the Air Force, Val Toland had been contemplating a long-term career in the military. However, following a spontaneous visit with a relative, he found himself poised to jump into an entirely different livelihood. “In 1979, I was stationed in Omaha, Nebraska, when my wife’s mother unexpectedly passed away,” he remembers. “After attending the funeral in Washington, we drove down south to get out of the snow and stopped in Pleasanton to visit my Uncle Joe. He had just started a pool company about six months earlier, and he asked if I’d like to come out and help him build the business. When I got back to Omaha, I looked around at the three-foot snow drifts and thought, ‘I liked it there in Pleasanton.’ Plus, things had been getting awfully political with the military, which had me second-guessing my plans for a long-term career. After giving it some thought, I decided to resign my commission in the Air Force, move my family to California and get into the pool business.”

Today, as owner of Classic Pools, Val says his favorite part of his job is making his customers’ dreams come true. “That’s no exaggeration—I really do get to make dreams come true! Many families, especially those with kids, dream about having a pool, so the fact that I get to make that a reality for them is very rewarding. I love going to a job every day where I get to be creative and make people happy.”

A resident of Clayton (where he lives with his wife, Cathe), Val says the weather and topography of the Bay Area make it equally lucrative and challenging for a professional pool builder. “There’s a lot of demand here, including both residential and commercial applications, so we stay busy. With all the hills, building pools here can be very challenging, but I enjoy the challenges and seeing projects come together from our hard work.”

Outside of work, Val divides his free time between leisure activities and community volunteering. “I’m LDS by faith, and I’m heavily involved in my church, as well as the local Boy Scouts troop,” he explains. “I’ve been working with young men for about 14 years now, and I enjoy teaching them life skills like respect, etiquette and integrity.” Val also likes to travel and visit family. “My wife and I have several children and grandchildren, most of whom are spread out around the country, so we take a lot of RV trips to visit them. We also try to go on a big trip every year to Hawaii or some other destination.”

In his life and career, Val espouses a philosophy passed down from his grandmother. “When I was a boy, I used to visit my grandparents on their farm, which was out in the boondocks,” he remembers. “My grandma used to say, ‘If you never turn anybody away from your door, you’ll always have food for your family.’ It always impressed me that, despite living in the middle of nowhere, she had faith that if she provided for others, she’d be taken care of. Today, I continue to apply that philosophy to my business. I have faith that if we take care of our customers, the financial aspect will take care of itself.”

When asked what his future retirement might look like, Val says he’ll have no trouble staying occupied. “After my son, Shane, takes over the business, I’ll probably still help run the sales end, just to keep myself busy. I’d also like to do some more traveling, as well as some missionary work. After all, there’s a whole world out there to see.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?
A: Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Walnut Creek.

Q: Are you a dog person or a cat person?
A: A dog person.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Catch up on little projects and chores around the house that I usually don’t have time to do.

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: My children.

Q: If you could time travel to the past or the future, where would you go?
A: I’d go to the past and try to correct an injustice or prevent a tragic incident from happening.

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The Advantage of Salt Water Chlorination


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Video: Importance of a Qualified Pool Builder

Complete Video Transcription:

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Marc Hannigan is vice president of Royal Pools of Santa Clara, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2008. He can be reached at (408) 372-6977 or by email.

Marc Hannigan

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Marc Hannigan: Diving In

By James Florence , Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN JOSE — While some people gradually ease into their professional careers, Marc Hannigan was able to dive right in, thanks in part to an avocational aptitude. “I’ve been scuba diving since I was 12 years old,” he explains. “While in college, I employed my scuba experience to get a job as an underwater swimming pool repairman, which was a great way to make extra money during the summer.” From there, Marc went to work for a company called Adams Pool Solutions, where he gained further experience in swimming pool service and repair. Three decades later, when company owner Tony Adams purchased Royal Pools of Santa Clara, Inc., Marc received not only a promotion but a chance to get involved in another aspect of the field: new pool construction. “We did a lot of remodeling at Adams, but building a pool from scratch was a whole new ballgame,” he says. “I still consider myself in the learning process.”

Today, as vice president of Royal Pools of Santa Clara, Marc says his favorite part of his job is its daily challenges. “I enjoy the fact that there’s an ongoing learning process, with new challenges every day. In addition to the job itself, the customer service aspect can pose its own challenges. One of the things I like most is talking with a customer who’s upset, educating them and bringing them over to our side so they become an advocate rather than an adversary.”

A resident of Walnut Creek (where he lives with his wife, Megan), Marc expresses his appreciation for the versatile Bay Area landscape. “We have access to so many different areas and activities here. There’s the ocean, which is a major source of recreation for me, as well as San Francisco and the Sierras. Basically, anything you could want to do, it’s not too far away.”

Outside of work, Marc spends much of his time immersed in aquatic activities. “As I said, I’ve been scuba diving my whole life, and I still enjoy it today,” he affirms. “I used to do a lot of spearfishing, but with the fish population in decline, I’ve switched to underwater photography, which has taken me all over the world, from Fiji to the Caribbean.” When he’s not taking snapshots of marine wildlife, Marc can often be found reading a book or playing guitar in his band, Mud Daddy. Additionally, he enjoys spending time with his and Megan’s two grown children.

In regard to his professional career, Marc espouses the value of investing in customer satisfaction. “Rather than spending a lot of money on advertising, we’d rather invest in doing right by our customers,” he explains. “When you go the extra mile for someone, you gain an advocate for life, and the positive word of mouth that generates is the most valuable form of advertising a business can have.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Marc says he’d spend more time in the water. “I have some property in Washington, so if I retired, I’d probably move up there and spend my days diving in Puget Sound. The diving up there is remarkable—plus, there’s a lot less traffic.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Diving gear and underwater photographs I take.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Any place that has good sushi.

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco Giants.

Q: How do you like your eggs?
A: Scrambled.

Q: Do you have a favorite book?
A: I have a few, but one that stands out is “The Drifters” by James Michener. I read it about 40 years ago and it became the blueprint for my travels through Europe as a young man.

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Complete Video Transcription:

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