By Jesse Escalera
Hi, I’m Jesse Escalera, founder and CEO of Calimingo Pools. You may also recognize me from the last 12 years I was on HGTV. But that just barely scratches the surface of who I am and what I stand for. I came to the pool industry as an outsider and so I do things differently but there is so much more to tell you!
In order for you to understand how Calimingo Pools is different, first you need to understand how the rest of the pool industry operates. This is a little story about how the pool industry has been operating since the 1950s, until now!
One Guy Wearing Eight Hats
Most companies have one guy who works on commission and does the job of 8 different departments. First the lead comes in, then they act as the customer service representative and take the incoming calls and schedule the initial meetings with the clients. They then act as the surveyor and the drafter, going out and measuring the project and making the blank site plans for the clients. They act as the designer, meeting with the client and going back and forth on the design. They act as the estimator, putting the bid together. They act as the salesperson, working out the deal with the client and getting it into contract. They act as the permit tech, going back and forth with the city and HOA to get permits and in some cases, even act as a project manager.
Since the 1950’s the pool industry in general has preferred this jack-of-all-trades model because they don’t lose any money as the representative only makes money when the pool company makes money and it covers a lot of bases. However, back in the 1950’s it was just a pool, not even a spa, definitely not outdoor kitchens, outdoor living rooms, fireplaces, water features, and so on.
Although it does help control costs for the pool company, you as the client wind up getting a jack of all trades and a master of none.
Calimingo Pools has different departments for every phase of the process with highly trained specialists in each department. Our designers are truly artists and make decisions with their hearts, they fall in love with their designs along with their clients.
Specialists doing what they do best
that’s the Calimingo difference
Our sales consultants are proud of the company they represent and love educating their clients and guiding them through our comprehensive process.
Our estimators and engineers are the best nerds in the industry! They love to put on their headphones, throw a hoodie on, zone in on the numbers, and block out the rest of the world. These are specific types of people doing specific types of work, they are specialists “nerds” in their respective fields and they love what they do. You’re not going to take a “thoroughbred horse” (salesperson) and ask them to sit in a room crunching numbers, and you can say the same for a project manager who loves to live on the battlefield, like a general leading an army. When people are doing what they do best, they do it the most efficiently, and that’s when the economies of scale come into play. That’s why we’re able to pay our specialists the highest wages in the industry while still keeping the end product competitively priced for our clients.
You Should Get What You Pay For
For the rest of the pool industry, since the old days it’s been customary to have a very basic explanation of what was being sold: one price for one pool. The industry has evolved dramatically from just being a pool to including a highly sophisticated outdoor living environment. Unfortunately, the way that estimating is typically done, has not evolved along with the scope of the installations. You typically receive a vague list of features with a price attached to them. For example, a pool and spa as a line item with a price next to it. Same thing for the patio cover, the same thing for the outdoor fireplace, etc.
Then when you go into production and you want to change an item, you don’t know exactly how much credit you should be receiving. For example, you want to replace turf with pavers. If you don’t know exactly the unit price per square foot, you don’t know how much you should be credited.
Then, there is the matter of payment. Back in the 1950’s, it used to be a pool, and that’s it. Not even a spa, let alone all of these custom features that have driven the price up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the old days, it took a week to build a pool. One day to dig it, one day to do the rough plumbing and the rebar, one day to shoot the concrete shell, two days to put in the coping and the tile, and then the plaster and water went in the same day. Therefore, pool contractors had to charge 25% at the dig, 25% at the rebar, 25% at the concrete shell, 15% at the tile and coping, and the last 10% was paid the morning the plaster showed up. So you would pay in full, making sure the pool contractor got their money.
The problem with this old invoicing model is that now you have many different features in an outdoor living environment, and in some cases, these projects can be several hundred thousand dollars. But everyone is still collecting 25% right when they dig the hole! Collecting all this cash up front creates a situation where the contractor can actually underbid projects one after another and still have plenty of cash in the bank. As long as they keep selling more and more pools and digging more and more holes every month, they can keep the scheme going. Many of these contractors are hardworking people who just don’t understand the numbers and are unknowingly borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. In some cases this may result in your job being abandoned, it’s just a roll of the dice whether you’re going to be Peter or Paul.
Calimingo Pools sends you a very detailed estimate for example there may be more than 20 line items just for the pool alone. You literally get the price of the excavation by square foot, the price of the rebar, the price of the plaster, the price of the tile, the price of the equipment per piece, pump number 1, pump 2, the heater, specific details about the control equipment, and options. The typical Calimingo Pools estimate is several pages long, this may seem overwhelming for the client but we do “estimate reveals” where we go through the estimate line by line with you. This provides full transparency and leaves the client feeling educated and empowered with a full understanding of every detail of the project. If at any point, before or during the project, there is any change big or small, you know exactly how much you deserve to be credited back and exactly how much it will cost to add more square footage, more height, more length, because you know the unit price of every detail.
In the first week of production, you will see this familiar list of line items in the form of a progress billing statement, with a percentage of completion next to each line item, with a total at the bottom for that week’s completed work, no more, no less.
You will never prepay in huge lumps, you can trust and rely on this progress billing report every week like clockwork.
Always fair and always accurate
you will always get what you pay for.
Bang for Your Buck
For many years we were known as the high-end pool company. That meant that if you didn’t have a quarter million dollars we didn’t have the bandwidth to handle your project appropriately, that was back in the early 2000’s. We were known for our innovations, our over-the-top designs, and for innovating things you’re just now seeing become commonplace, like sunken seating, fire/water features, and some things you still don’t see other builders do, like steel fire cages holding up patio covers.
The wilder and more outlandish the ideas, the more they fit our brand and it was what we became known for. In some cases, I had even heard stories about our competitors saying, “We don’t have to worry about Calimingo, they are strictly high-end.”
This was always the case–until recently. If you are a long-time Calimingo follower you may have noticed that we have been talking about “Express.”
This is a process involving 2 key components that we have developed for completing the projects in the most efficient manner.
We call it the “critical path.” If there are any items in the design that interfere with the critical path, then they don’t qualify for express. The critical path involves a very streamlined process for installing vertical structures that dramatically speeds up the turnaround time, kind of like an assembly line.
pre-cast concrete factory
We have our own pre-cast concrete factory, so we make our own pre-cast parts specced out to Calimingo standards. This allows us to have all of the caps, coping, countertops, hearths, mantles, bowls, and planters, on pallets on site, before we even start the project.
Not all projects qualify for Express, but the ones that do experience a lightning-fast turnaround time, military level of efficiency, and precision. And because of the speed of installation the economies of scale kick in allowing us to dramatically discount our rates for qualified projects.
In other words, you get the biggest bang for your buck!
If I were in your shoes, reading this right now, I might still be skeptical–promises that sound too good to be true often are! Sure our reviews are great, and sure I was good enough at what I do to be recruited for a TV show, but when you’re trusting a company to do a huge project, for a lot of money, letting them into your own space, your own backyard, near your family, you probably want to know a bit more about who they are, and I’m happy to share so you can sleep soundly knowing you made the right choice when you choose Calimingo.
Entrepreneurship is in my blood, but so is the importance of integrity, and family. By choice, I dropped out of South Junior High in Anaheim when I was 13 years old to help my family’s struggling picture frame business. At 15, the business went completely under, and that’s when I got my first construction job in order to support my sick father and my younger brother. Times were very tough. We lived at the Tahiti Motel for three long years. Miraculously that motel is still standing at Beach Blvd. in Stanton California.
Fast forward a few years, and I was self-employed as a self-taught handyman. That’s when one of my clients asked me to build them a pool. Initially, I said no. I didn’t know how to build a pool, but he loved my designs so much that he insisted that I try–I thought surely it would be better to choose someone more experienced. But he persisted. I’m so grateful he did too–because building that pool was how I found my calling.
Initially, it was only through word of mouth that I got clients, but word of mouth was enough because I quickly made a name for myself in the industry by doing outlandish over-the-top designs and builds. At first, I was so green to the industry that I undercharged and often lost money on projects. But I made sure every project was completed the right way in the end.
For me, building pools and designing landscapes was never just about digging holes and filling them with cement and water. It is about expressing yourself with your surroundings.
Happy Design Clients
200+ Online Reviews
Completed Job Sites
Years of Experience
It is about creating a beautiful space where you can fully relax and immerse yourself. A space separated from the outside world, a world that I’d seen firsthand could be dirty, ugly, and harsh. In our marketing materials, you may see we use the word oasis. We truly mean it, with Calimingo we set out to build you a true oasis in your own backyard. We build spaces that bring friends and family together. Our goal is to enhance the time you spend with loved ones by creating a resort-style experience in your backyard.
Nothing gave me more satisfaction than seeing my designs become reality and knowing that underneath it all, they were built to last, built with integrity, built with an artist’s heart. I love walking into a yard that I know isn’t just surface-level pretty, but is built to last. To this day, building something of style and quality is what matters most to me. Something I can proudly put the Calimingo stamp on, something that makes clients happy.
I could write a book on my life experiences, how I came into this industry, and why Calimingo is not just a way to make money…maybe I will?… Maybe I am writing a book. 😉