Industry pioneer Terry Evans, founder of Legend Products and Services, is moving into retirement after selling the business to David Webber, formerly a director of Spa Electrics.
The business is being revitalised and “brought into the 21st century” to enable it to better fulfil its potential, while Evans will be moving on to travel Australia and have the first real holiday of his life.
Forty years ago
“I’ve been doing this for forty years,” Evans says. “It’s been a very long life in the pool industry, but instead of going out in a box I’m going out in style – walking out the front door. And I’m very, very happy to see the Legend name continue on and expand and grow.”
Evans says he is the last of the trio who helped the local pool industry take off.
“I was one of the three guys who, I guess, wrote the book of knowledge for the pool industry to work with.”
The other two were Ken Stephenson from Swim World (later brought under the Waterco umbrella); and Bob Harris from Davey. He says that together with International Quadratics and the post-deregulation electrical authorities, they were instrumental in writing much of the documentation for the industry. Evans says he was also the first person rated to gain a Certificate of Competence, back in the early 1980s.
He came from a building industry background, with his uncles and grandfather in the trade and his father a draftsman. Evans himself started in advertising and ticket writing with Burns Philp, making block ads for the newspapers.
Gaining industry experience
Then 40 years ago he moved into the pool and spa industry with King Spa and Leisure Products. He started on Monday working on the aluminium siding part of the business, and by Tuesday he had shifted into the pool and spa shop side of the business, offering consumers the benefit of what was then his very limited knowledge.
But in that position he learned about pools and spas and eventually opened up his own business in Unwin Street, Moorooka called Norseman Spas and Saunas, which went on to have 13 showrooms.
In the mid-1980s Sydney-based Poolrite directors Peter Wolpert and Neil Howlett made a push north and appointed Fred Lyneham as the new Poolrite Queensland state manager. Up till then Poolrite had been operating in Queensland through Jeff Ramsey’s distributor business Pool Filtration and Equipment. Evans took the sales manager position.
“During that time I set up the outfits with the Poolrite logo and the green colours and got tailor-made sports jackets, and did a lot of marketing to provide some professionalism,” he says. “We looked very smart in our sports uniforms.
“I spent 16 years at Poolrite as sales manager, and involved myself at every level – from stupid corporate meetings to research and development.”
Family concerns with his mother’s health had him step away from Poolrite, which was changing management at the time. He then set up a business initially called Terry Pools and Spas, but soon changed to the Legend model.
“In 2000 I introduced Legend to the pool industry on the Gold Coast – I think at the SPLASH! Pool & Spa Trade Show, back when Carol Benger ran it.
“Legend was set up to be unlike anything else – an independent trade wholesale supply business with every make and brand known, to totally supply the industry and provide unbiased advice. That allowed us to do pretty much everything and we ended up with 10,000 line items. All of this from a bank balance of $2000.”
A new beginning
Now he has handed over the reins to the new owner, David Webber.
Webber, previously a director of Spa Electrics, took over the business in March.
“I sold out of Spa Electrics nearly two years ago now. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, to be honest. I took a lot of time out and worked with someone else completely out of the industry for a few years, but I liked the pool and spa industry and I liked Queensland, so you could say I was brought back to the industry for the lifestyle.”
Evans was a self-confessed old school operator who had no affinity with 21 century information technology. That is one of the first changes to take place under the new owner, with a new IT system put in place, the latest version of MYOB and a bar code system being introduced.
“Hopefully we can carry on with the Legend brand and revitalise it a little bit,” Webber says. “I’m looking at doing that, cleaning the place up and looking at what we do and how we do it. Terry realised it had to be done but it was probably a bit daunting for him.
“Legend is a good business – it just needs some polishing. And we are going to polish it up and redo the showrooms and get things looking nice and then in the second year, I’ll target more market share and some other business strategies.”
Webber says that Evans is a bit of a Legend in Queensland, adding that there’s no-one who doesn’t know him or hasn’t got some advice from him over the years.
“Terry is staying on until the end of the financial year so if anyone wants to say goodbye, give him a call.”
After June, Evans will be taking to the road for his first ever holiday.
“I want to be a grey nomad,” he says. “I’ve got a 10-foot long black 1956 Carapark caravan, and an Aussie-built Chevrolet Sloper to haul it. They were around before the FJ Holden.
“I’m going to enjoy my very first holiday – I’ve never had a holiday longer than a three-day weekend before.
“And I’m absolutely stoked that David’s got the business because he’s going to move on into the 21st century – I’m better suited to the 18th century. I still don’t use a computer and I don’t suit the 21st century to be honest – I’ve still got the rock tablet with a hammer and a chisel!
“I’m going to pop back in to see Legend evolve into what it could have been if I’d had enough time by myself – because it was designed in all honesty to look after the pool industry – and our job is to serve and help educate in an unbiased way.”
The Legend Products and Services phone number remains (07) 3806 1823 but there is a new email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.