Financier dives into multi-million dollar Poolwerx franchise

By Sarah Stowe | 21 Oct 2019 View comments

Driving a $3 million business is a great way to showcase senior skills, and that’s just what multi-unit Poolwerx franchise owner Malcolm Price has.

He’s achieved great results – doing so well that he scored a trip to visit the Poolwerx US business as one of the network’s top performers.

Malcolm admits he might have an advantage when it comes to understanding the figures.

“I’ve been in the financial market almost 25 years in Australia and the US.”

He worked with Deutsche Bank and J.P. Morgan. “It was pretty diverse. At one point I had about 60 people responsible for bringing the best equity ideas in to the US. The last 10 to 15 years was all about building businesses.”

That meant taking a business considered to be a low performer and turning it around. And this has been the skill Malcolm has brought to his Poolwerx franchise.

The history

Let’s flashback to the glamorous days of high finance in New York … Malcolm and his family lived in New York for a total of 10 years. But when his eldest daughter was ready for secondary school it was time to make a decision. With three kids three years apart it was going to be a long stint in the US if they decided to stay there for education.

And when Malcolm’s father became unwell with cancer, returning home made even more sense. So in 2013 the family came back to Australia.

“For me it was a bit of a reflection point; where do I want to be for the long term? I semi-retired, and re-charged myself.”

He was tempted back into the corporate world by J.P. Morgan for a short while.

“But I decided I was ready for something different. I need to be stimulated, challenged and outside my comfort zone.

“What motivated me? Thinking about how I get the balance right between home and work. How can I be stimulated and challenged?”

Malcolm decided the next chapter would be about more autonomy, and buying a local business would allow him to give back to the community.

“I certainly wasn’t willing to sit back and play golf, I like to push myself and find a challenge. I like building things,” he said.

Becoming a Poolwerx franchise owner

Malcolm looked at a few industries, then overlaid businesses for sale in his area to find one with the potential to be improved. He bought the first store in Killara in February 2018 and in partnership with another franchisee then acquired and converted an independent pool shop.

“We bought the business together then split the transaction and 80 per cent of the business came with me. It’s franchising innovation. Then we organised with the franchisor post-contract how to manage this.”

Today the business comprises the two stores, 10 service vehicles and 22 staff. The goal is to add another two sites to double business in the next five years.

“I see this purely as an investment,” he says. “How I preserve, value and grow it, working with the team in collaboration with Poolwerx.”

Malcolm’s creation of a corporate franchisee business is showing results. And the trip to the US gave him some more ideas about business.

“I think we all walked away with a couple of key takeaways for our own business, and it brought the franchise leadership group closer,” he says.

He plans to be a dominant player in the area.

“I could be quite unique, a multi-store business under one banner. Interaction, consistency, quick decision making are crucial.

“That’s one of the reasons I was attracted [to the industry], it’s still fragmented. I knew Poolwerx was the leading brand, better presented.”

Malcolm is planning his life in five-year blocks. In five years his children will have finished school and it will be time to evaluate the business, he said.

“This is a really good opportunity, it’s pretty motivating particularly when we get our wins.

“I’m very fortunate, I’ve built a great team and I have the opportunity to spend time with my family. I have flexibility and I am more in control of my own destiny and time.

“Franchising allows you get to a scale but it also enables you to not be there every day.”