Maverick. Guru. Innovator. Teacher. These are just some of the adjectives people have used when describing my father, Jock Hamilton.
Jack ran our company as an extension of himself. Every facet of what we did was infused with his personal beliefs, wit, and knowledge. Since I can remember, Dad was teaching me about business and grooming me to one day take over. Unfortunately, that came far sooner than we ever expected. Jock passed away in 2002. Suddenly, my mother and I were thrust into the position of filling Dad’s shoes. And everyone had an opinion on how we should fill that role.
Thus came the obsession with WWJD (what would Jock do). Afterall, people weren’t so much as buying into a product, but buying into him. We had an obligation to preserve what made United Chemical the company so many loved, and to keep Jock’s spirit alive.
It became clear we needed to codify what our company stood for in absence of it’s creator. We needed to be clear on what we believed in and why. That was my mission when I first took the position of CEO of United Chemical.
why do we care about pools?
I think what I do does matter. I make people happy.
If you never met Jock, he was incredibly smart. There were few subjects that he wasn’t knowledgeable about – especially science. We constantly talked about science, and I marveled at his brilliance.
One day in the car when I was about 10, I asked him: “Dad you’re so smart. Why aren’t you President? Or working at NASA? Why do pools when you can do something that matters?”
He smiled, and after a moment of contemplation he replied “Well, I think what I do does matter. I make people happy.”
United Chemical wasn’t built to just make pool chemicals. Pools aren’t necessarily that important. It was built to make people happy. It just so happens we do that through the pool products we make.
what do we value most?
With our core purpose defined, we had to figure out how to get there. We had to figure out what values governed the way Jock did things.
honesty - never lie
I didn’t realize until as an adult and involved in business how rare commodities honesty and trust are. And how valuable they can be.
My earliest lesson from Jock was the value of honesty. He would often explain “you can do a lot of things to me – but never lie to me. If you lie I can’t trust you.” I’d like to say I never did lie to him. But like most kids, I did tell a fib. And I got caught.
It took a year to gain back his trust. I didn’t realize until as an adult and involved in business how rare commodities honesty and trust are. And how valuable they can be.
So first and foremost, we have to be honest with everyone involved with United Chemical. That means upholding the highest standards of transparency. After all, what else are companies run on other than trust.
integrity - $20 Million dollar promise
I gave my word. And you’re only worth your word.
I remember Dad came home one day and announced walking in the door “well, I just lost $20 million dollars today…” My eyes grew wide as my jaw plummeted to the floor. To a 12 year old, it was like saying “I lost all the money in the world.” I was certain we were about to be homeless.
He smiled and explained. He had made a promise to some industry insiders that United Chemical would never sell to mass merchandisers – instead supporting the “Mom and Pop” retailers. It just so happens Home Depot approached Jock about carrying our products, potentially for tens of millions of dollars. And he declined.
“But…why? That promise was made so many years ago – and it wasn’t even in writing” I exclaimed. He replied simply “I gave my word. And you’re only worth your word.”
Few can say that their word is worth more than $20 million. But Jock can.
We at United Chemical have to keep the promises we make – no matter how expensive or inconvenient. We are only as valuable as our word.
innovation - the favorite phrase
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got…
Jock loved to tinker. He was constantly experimenting with new ideas. And challenge himself. He had a phrase he loved to say: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
He so strongly believed in this, he made me print it out and pin it to the side of my bed. That way I would always be reminded to challenge myself and try something new.
It should come as no surprise that what launched United Chemical into success were unique and innovative products that were different from anything in the industry.
We as a company must always be looking to innovate, reinvent and challenge ourselves.
education - the ultimate customer service
It didn’t matter who you were; if you needed help or had questions, he would spend hours on the phone with you as needed.
When I was a kid, I’d often go into dad’s office to ask him for something. And he’d almost always be on the phone talking to a customer. So I would sit in a chair in his office, listening to him talk about chemistry or diagnosing a problem, and wait until he was off the phone. And wait. And wait some more. And then fall asleep.
I would wake up – sometimes hours later – and see him still on the phone. I’d get a little upset he didn’t wake me up when between phone calls. Until I realized he was talking to the same customer. Turns out it was a pool owner he was teaching about pool chemistry.
It didn’t matter who you were; if you needed help or had questions, he would spend hours on the phone with you as needed. Even if you never bought one of our swimming pool products.
We are committed to education. Not just educating ourselves, but everyone we interact with. It is the ultimate service we can do.
These core values act as our compass as we pursue our purpose of making people happy. We thank you for allowing us to share it with you.
This is what makes United Chemical the company it is. We hope we can do our part to make you happy.
Chief Executive Officer