Back in late 2006, Pleatco was acquired by two very successful entrepreneurs, Howard Smith and John Antretter. Combined, they have owned and managed companies representing billions in sales along with industry leading technology that has changed people's lives. So, what would compel these executives to enter the pool and spa industry?
"We were looking for something to complement both of our skill sets, and that had an international presence," Antretter said. "Company CEO Smith has an extensive background in distribution, and I know quite a bit about manufacturing and high technology. We were hoping to get involved in a situation where our skills would have an impact."
The Glen Cove, N.Y, filter cartridge maker already had an established customer base, but the new owners quickly found areas for development. "We put a substantial investment into giving Pleatco a fresh look, but 10 times the improvement went into its infrastructure," COO Antretter said. "Having the most modern systems available is essential for great success."
That philosophy included investing in an upgrade of Pleatco's manufacturing equipment especially the purchase of faster, more efficient pleating machines. The pair's foray into the pool market is the latest in a long line of business ventures, handled separately and together.
Upon graduating from law school in the late 1970s, Smith joined a family owned pharmaceutical distributor in New York and helped grow the company into an industry leader in the United States. The company, SP Drugs, was eventually sold to a Fortune 50 company. More recently, he headed operations at one of the nation's largest specialty light bulb distribution companies. Meanwhile, Antretter, who also is an adjunct professor of business at Fordham University in New York, started out as a banker. He soon realized that for him, building and running a company was more fulfilling than financing it. Antretter was the CEO of the world's leader in Plasma TV technology. He eventually sold his company to Panasonic. "We developed patents that are used by every manufacturer of Plasma TV's in the world today," stated Antretter. Today, he considers himself a "serial entrepreneur."
Antretter and Smith said they are fully dedicated to seeing Pleatco thrive. "We are hands-on operators. We're not in the business of sitting in the background or flipping; we are very long term players" Smith said. "We recognize that our customers really are the most important thing." A strong bond between Smith and Antretter has further eased the transition, both agreed. In fact, they even share an office. "That's been great...we have board meetings everyday!" Smith said. "We laugh a lot and learn a lot from each other." "If you talk to any business owner, it's very hard to find a business partner who shares your vision and great desire to excel," Antretter added. "I've never had this kind of comfort before. I trust Howard one million percent, and I know he feels the same."