By ALLIE LEWIS When Maureen Hennessey Hagar finally gets a summer off for the first time in four decades, it'll be a bittersweet milestone. All that time, Hagar and her brother-in-law, John Medeiros, have been at the helm of KJ Pool and Spa, keeping the
When Maureen Hennessey Hager finally gets a summer off for the first time in four decades, it’ll be a bittersweet milestone.
All that time, Hager and her brother-in-law, John Medeiros, have been at the helm of KJ Pool and Spa, keeping the family business alive and well. What started as a small, family-run business run by Hager’s late father, Gene Hennessey, in the garage out back, grew into a Pontiac Avenue storefront that spanned decades.
Over the years, the pair have grown the family business and helped it flourish, but both of them are looking to embrace the next chapter of their lives – as difficult as it will be to say goodbye.
“The relationships we have with all the customers, that’s going to be the hardest part to leave behind,” Hager said. “That’s going to be the hardest part, not seeing the customers every year.”
At the start of every summer, Hager and Medeiros would be greeted by the friendly, familiar faces of their regulars. They’d ask about their customers’ families and how their children were doing in school, and more often than not, they’d peer behind the counter and get to ask after Hagan and Mederios’ children, too.
Being a family business, the youngest members of the family spent lots of time at the shop, whether they were there for the whole summer or just a few hours sweeping the floors – which gave their customers a chance to watch them grow up, too.
Some of Hager’s customers even remember her late father, who passed away in September of 1985, several years after he had started the family business.
“I don’t think he ever anticipated it’d get to something like this,” Hager said. “I think my dad would have been proud of what we did with it.”
As difficult as it will be for Hager to let go of the business, she knows it’ll be that much harder for her mother to let go of 719 Pontiac Ave.
Long before it would ever be KJ Pool & Spa, the space next door had been home to Pontiac Laundrette, which her parents opened and ran together. They’ve owned the building since the ’50s, and shortly before their current storespace became available, it was being rented out by Dutchland Farms.
After her father passed, Hager decided she wanted to help keep the family business going and turned to her brother-in-law for a business partner. And when the chance to expand the business came, they grabbed it.
“It was the perfect trifecta – we were doing really well back there, this place became available, and my mom owned it, so it’d be rent controlled,” Hager said with a laugh. “It kind of all fell into place.”
Since then, there have been lots of busy summer seasons that didn’t allow for many family barbecues or beach days with friends. But Hager and Medeiros wouldn’t trade any of that for the world. While plenty of people had warned them against going into business with a relative, and all the issues that can bring, they’re glad they didn’t listen.
“Family business sometimes has its trials and tribulations, but I would say, looking back, I wish I could start all over again,” Hager said.
The space they’ve called home for the past four decades hasn’t changed much, but in celebration of reaching their 40th season, Hager and Medeiros have put out plenty of old family photos around the shop.
Saying goodbye to this chapter of their lives will be difficult, and enjoying a quiet Saturday in the middle of June will be strange, but it’ll also be a welcomed change of pace.
Neither of them are entirely sure of what their retirement will look like, but for Hager, she’s hoping to keep busy helping her husband with his small pool service businesses.
She’s also looking forward to spending some time in her own pool, and enjoying a more leisurely paced summer with friends and family.
And because she hates the idea of her customers having questions or concerns going into the next season, Hager also plans to keep an eye on the company email.
Next week at KJ Pool & Spa will be their last, but Hager and Medeiros plan to go out with a splash. Their retirement sale for customers and service companies will feature some pretty good prices – something they hope will help get everyone situated for their first season without the store.
For months, the pair had toyed with the idea of staying open another year, or even into the start of the next season to help customers along, but in the end, they both knew it was time to say goodbye.
They’ve accomplished a lot together over the years, providing quality services and supplies they could be proud of, so Hager said “it feels nice to go out on top.”
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