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Narellan Pools - The right call

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

Narallean Pools in Mercury Bay has two very youthful owners and managers, Gary and Olivia Down, who sell, design and install swimming pools across the Coromandel Peninsula.

This all started for the couple in March 2018 and just two weeks ago, at the annual Narellan Pools Conference, Gary and Olivia came away with some top national awards: Rookie of the Year in terms of their new business output and quality of service; Pool of the Year for Greg’s design and installation of a pool with its finished surface and surrounds, and Woman of the Year for Olivia’s management, leadership, and service to clients and Narellan colleagues. Narellan is a very large company operating in Australia and New Zealand, so to win these awards is truly an outstanding achievement.

What was happening for Olivia and Greg before 2018? Olivia was a qualified, practicing beauty therapist. Gary was making road signs. It was Garys Uncle, who worked for Narellan, who encouraged him to being part of the Narellan Pools business. He had mentioned to Gary that they were short of staff. Gary had built a car from scratch so he had aptitude for construction and putting things together. “It was obvious that once I put my mind to things, I don’t give up till it’s finished and working,” smiles Gary.

“I said ‘no’ to the owner about the job at first, but Narellan and my uncle kept on and invited me to go to a conference that Narellan Pools was holding in Australia. The conference was empowering. The people welcomed me and I became excited about having a job with this company. I started in March 2018.” “Gary was so enjoying the work after he returned from the conference that I felt a little jealous of how happy he was,” says Olivia. So I asked, “Does your boss’ wife need a hand in the office?” The next week I was there working. I fell all over the brand and the office work and the clients. The business was growing. I liked the fast pace. We worked hard and felt we were contributing to the growth. We were working together. I liked that. Gary is a perfectionist and was quickly identified as a good plumber and problem solver. Our son, Kohi, now works with the pools. When he came back from Australia, he was at a loose end. The owners of Narellan also have their son working with the pools. It’s a family run business and we are part of that family.”

Fast forward two years, and Gary and Olivia came to the Coromandel. Olivia explains, “This opportunity in Whitianga was always sitting there, but largely untouched,” says Olivia. “The pools are New Zealand made, in Hamilton. As soon as I heard that Mercury Bay area was ready for someone to take over, we dived straight in, arriving in Whitianga in 2020. We always wanted to come here. We were married here 15 years ago. My Dad was a part of the very first Centennial Avenue subdivisions and he is buried at Ferry Landing. We made the right call.” Now, they have purchased a commercial property behind Coffee and Curry in Albert Street to redevelop and it will open early next year.

“We are putting in a nice little structure in the front for our Narellan Pools Office (see picture). We are wanting to make our mark, ”says Gary.

We asked Olivia about being chosen as Woman of the Year. “It was inspired by a woman who died of cancer but who was a driving force within the Narellan community. In Australia, women are driving the trucks, running the factories. I am the only Director in New Zealand who works on the tools full time. I pretty much do all the accounts as well, but I am also with the boys working with the tools every day. It was not just because of what we have done with our own business; but we still help Narellan Pools, Waikato. We support others within the business. We are prepared to get in and get things done. We don’t jump up and down when things go wrong. I have found another purpose; for me, beauty was not challenging enough. I love this business.”

Gary is a little shy about the honour of winning Pool of the Year. “I had the opportunity to join two pools together; they have to be cut to be joined together. It was very, very tricky working with fibre glass to do that. I had to learn a whole lot more about fibreglassing, but I am a perfectionist. I just keep adjusting and finishing until it’s right, the best possible job I can do. Some installations are multi-million-dollar pools, but the one I designed is not. It was done on a budget and it won. That makes me feel very satisifed. With the checkered design I used, people said it was impossible. But I knew it wasn’t. I had seen the art on Pinterest; I just had to apply the idea to a swimming pool context.”

Olivia smiled, “We are a small dealer but our customers are very happy. Gary is the key to our business; I’m the glue. We are the only franchise owners, and first in the company in 50 years, to win Rookie of the Year and Pool of the Year.”

Their first annual goal, in consultation with Narellan Pools, was eight pools, being a small unit and still being new; but they set themselves a personal goal of twelve, and were thrilled that they sold sixteen pools in that first year.

“We have done the most difficult install in Narellan Pools, “Gary explains. “It is challenging to put in a pool in this area because of the high-water table. Shelley Beach Holiday Park pool was the toughest project we have ever had to do. There was so much water, the digger sank. The ground was too soft. We had to put 40 wooden posts very deep into the ground and then put a concrete floor on top. That pool has been such a boon for families at the Holiday Park and a great success for their business. After managing and succeeding at this kind of job with our utmost effort, we have got things to a point where we understand this water problem, and we guide everything through, working with an engineer.”

Caption: Olivia and Gary with the well-deserved Narellan Pools awards; Pool of the Year, Woman of the Year, Rookie of the Year

For more information: Olivia Down – Director Ph: 0277665728 Email: Pools in Mercury Bay has two very youthful owners and managers, Gary and Olivia Down, who sell, design and install swimming pools across the Coromandel Peninsula.

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