A Short Auto-Biography on Eric Neel and His Journey to Success
Born in Tullahoma, Tennessee, in 1981, Eric Neel started his childhood in their family-built, underground, geothermal house in Manchester, Tennessee. At the age of six, Eric and his family moved to their farm in the small town of Hillsboro, Tennessee. Eric Neel grew up on the farm working with his family in a culture in which everyone in the family was expected not only to carry their weight, but also support the efforts of the family. Most summers were spent working for his dad cutting hay, raising cows, running their sawmill, logging their farm, building pole barns, running heavy machinery, wiring commercial buildings and yes, even building swimming pools.
At the age of 18, Eric bought his first backhoe and decided to start a company building pools, pole barns, grading yards, and anything else that came his way. After one year in business, and after paying off the bank note on his backhoe, Eric purchased a Storefront. This was the start of Clearwater Pool & Spa, Inc., of Manchester, Tennessee. Clearwater Pool & Spa, Inc., was founded in late 2000, and opened its doors in 2001 with the newly self-remodeled storefront. After opening, Eric expanded the pool building business into chemical sales, spa sales, pool maintenance, and equipment sales for pools and spas. Eric was finishing his second year studying at Middle Tennessee State University as well. Once the storefront opened, Eric left his academic studies to focus exclusively on his newly opened storefront.
In June 2005, Eric married Katie Sipe, a long-time childhood family friend of the Neel Family. In 2006, Katie Joined the Clearwater team and ultimately started managing the retail store in 2007. Eric expanded their business to include excavation crews and Eric separated the two sides of their company and founded Clearwater Excavation, Inc., which performed earth moving, dump trucking, blasting, demolition, and utility contracts for large scale jobs ranging from residential developments to major church and school development projects.
After seven years of operating the two sides of their business, Katie and Eric made a significant business strategy change to transition to a debt free business. Eric sold off the assets of Clearwater Excavation, Inc. to focus on what they knew best, the swimming pool and spa business. Getting out of debt could not be accomplished overnight and Eric felt led to continue his academic studies and completed a bachelor’s in Theology Degree as he learned to trust God.
God had given Eric the vision of expanding Eric’s platform, Clearwater Pool & Spa. Inc. This time, however, it was not about the money, it was about the people. God opened doors and built relationships that rapidly expanded Clearwater, but this time in a way that honored Jesus. God brought the people one by one that now comprise the Clearwater staff that serve customers faithfully throughout the United States.
In 2013, Clearwater was awarded an exclusive National Blemished Spa contract, which God used to increase sales and build relationships far outside Clearwater’s previous service areas. Spa sales continued to soar for the next several years and Clearwater was awarded the prestigious honor of being included as one of the top three National retailers for Aqua Rest Spas. Clearwater has been published in Dreammaker Spas’ Newsletters, featured in spa Retailer’s Magazine, featured on the Kathy Ireland show, and voted Manchester’s finest Pool and Spa Dealer many years running.
The dream that was birthed in 2008-2009 of becoming debt free and a cash operated business was realized in 2016. Katie and Eric have two children Heidi, born in 2011, and Nathan born in 2014. Eric and Katie have learned to trust God in their marriage, in their finances, and in raising a family all while running a successful business that has now grown into one of the largest independently owned retailers of spas and hot tubs in the nation. Clearwater serves customers all across the United States with their direct ship spas and offer their local customers a wide range of services for their swimming pools and spas.
One of the Major keys to our God-given success is accountability. Above are the accolades. On the “Accountability” tab are the weaknesses I’m still working on. Being accountable to trusted people in my weaknesses has led to success. This seems to be God’s design!
“Godly Dreams Are Bigger than you can Accomplish”
Author: Eric Neel
My Dream: To hear, “well done good and faithful servant”
- To become a great disciple of Jesus, a great husband to Katie, a great father to our children, and a great leader in our company and sphere of Influence.
- To be generous. (Not just become generous or give generously, but instead to be generous)
- To live a healthy balanced life between work and family.
- To be debt free by the end of July 2016. (Accomplished Already)
(Post script: We decided to make an expansive 25,000 sf real estate purchase to meet the needs of current growth, after becoming debt free, that will be paid off within three years)
My Life’s Mission Statement
To become great in all areas of my life. Anyone can be successful in one thing. I desire to become great in all areas of life. I will train to be a great leader in our company and sphere of influence while being a great husband, a great father, and mostly importantly a great disciple of Jesus.
- A) Accountability Questions Personal: Weekly
- Did I have any sexual sin this week eyes or thoughts?
- Did I feel that I needed or desired a drink?
- Did I spend quality time with God this week?
- Did I meet Katie’s love language this week?
- Did I lie about any of the above?
Life Awareness Input from:
- Do you see blind spots in areas of my life that I should focus on?
- B) Accountability Questions Financial: Everything below in each category was the vision God gave me as a plan to get out of debt. Monthly
- Is the first 10% profit being returned to God? (Tithe of the business)
- Is 7% of the company’s profits being shared with the employees?
- Is additional principle of $15,000 per month being accomplished in addition to the line item below?
- Are all project deposit checks being applied to additional principle payoff?
- Are we on schedule to be debt free buy the end of July 2016? (already accomplished)
Life Awareness Input from:
- Do you see blind spots in areas of my life that I should focus on? (Can I learn to steward time better?)
- C) Accountability Questions Family: Bi-Weekly
- Am I spending one hour each day in intimate conversation with Katie?
- Am I providing Domestic Support? (Input with raising kids, fixing things around the house, taking the trash out, keeping my key box clean, etc.)
- Am I spending 15 minutes’ of one on one quality time with each child per day and at least a dedicated hour of one on one quality time each week with each child?
- Are we having a family night with no distractions one night each week?
- Are my kids in my sphere of influence time wise each week? (seven hours per week)
- Are we spending time away from work with the kids?
- Are Katie and I having a date night each month?
- D) Accountability Questions Work: Monthly
- Am I serving our staff?
- Am I leading our staff with servant leadership?
- Am I clearly casting the vision for our company? (Bible)
- Am I out of the box with our staff? (As outlined in the book titled “Leadership & Self-Deception”)
- Am I teaching our staff to lead and serve?
- Am I getting to know the staff more intimately? (Knowing them, their spouse, their kids, etc.)
Testimonial, Johnny Evans
Testimonial, Sharon Holmes
Testimonial, Vernon Sherrill
A Customer Perspective – Dan Elam