Looking for a partner
Though he started the company on his own, Williams knew he would need the help of an experienced colleague—and Marc, who he’d known for years, was at the top of his list. Williams and Lambert had often discussed the idea of working together, but the timing was never quite right until ELM.
“Marc and I had conversations for quite a while before we decided to develop ELM into a bigger company,” Williams explains. “I said, ‘I’m not going to do this unless I have you helping me.’”
Lambert started in the spa business when he took a part-time position while pursuing a degree at Ryerson University. What began as a summer job soon blossomed into a full-fledged career, with Lambert eventually taking a position with a spa pack manufacturing company—and crossing paths with his future business partner.
“Ted was one of my first customers,” says Lambert. Marc held a variety of positions with different original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), the most recent of which was a 10-year stint with Hydropool doing design, engineering, certification and training the company’s employees worldwide. Lambert officially joined ELM in 2008.
An emerging market
The company looks to capitalize on a Canadian spa market that is reaching the 30-year mark, leaving behind lots of old product in need of service—and the types of parts and accessories ELM carries.
“We sell pretty much every type of replacement controller or part out there,” Williams says. “We’re continuously looking for anything and everything there is for hot tubs that we could re-sell to a dealer or technician to help them service spas.”
“There are hundreds of thousands of spas in people’s backyards right now that require some sort of maintenance and regular repair,” Lambert adds, noting people are more apt to pay for a repair on the hot tub they purchased for $3,500 or less than invest in a new model at a much higher cost. If a dealer has a good service department they can give a customer that option and still have good revenue.
“We still come across some real gems that are chugging away in the field that are 20 or 25 years old,” he continues. “The great thing is, we have the parts for those spas. We have parts from day one right up to stuff that’s produced today.”
Williams says one of the company’s goals is to help dealers create new service departments or develop existing ones.
“We believe the key to a successful hot tub dealership is to showcase a spa line with nice accessories and provide knowledgeable and professional follow up and after-market service,” he says, noting ELM is able to train dealers and their staff at the company’s Mississauga facility.
While establishing the business, Williams and Lambert have also paid special attention to their website.
“We’re trying to get our name and brand out there,” Williams explains. “We want the website to be a go-to for anybody, including end users. The key is that we are providing solutions for people. Lots of end users have been orphaned by their dealers and are looking for some help. When they call here, we qualify them, determine their needs, figure out the part they need, contact a dealer or technician and make the connection.”
It’s an arrangement that benefits the hot tub owner, the dealer and ELM, Lambert adds.