Saturday Business Interview, Featuring Houston Swim Club
We have some fantastic local businesses that are going to be featured, typically on Saturdays. We try to keep the questions consistent from interview to interview (with some changes possible). I hope you enjoy this series!
I am so excited to showcase Houston Swim Club as our first interview for our Saturday Business Feature series! They are a locally owned and operated family business that originated in the Houston area! I love the community they’ve created and the fact that their business literally helps save lives! This is one company that I had heard a lot of amazing reviews about and can truly say they stand for all the good things you hear (and more!). As a Mom of 3 living in the Northwest Houston area, with a pool in our backyard, and tons of pools surrounding us – getting our kids enrolled in lessons was a no-brainer. We recently partnered with Houston Swim Club in October and at the same time decided to enroll my kids in swim lessons. We have 3 kids (all under the age of 6!) and none of them knew how to swim before they were enrolled. It wasn’t something I took lightly, however I do think it took us too long to get them enrolled. Nonetheless – I know that getting them enrolled was the best decision we’ve made! Though they certainly enjoy their swim lessons as much as any other fun activity, the difference here is that they are truly gaining life-saving skills that they will need in case they are ever in a dangerous and unpredictable situation. As a Mom, having them get equipped with skills that will help save their lives, is something that I can’t stop sharing about. We hear the statistics and it is terrifying. Luckily, there are places that can help give our kids the tools to help prevent a scary and heart-breaking situation. What is even better, they love going!! My 6 year old son was swimming 2 weeks after being enrolled, my 4 year old should be passing his float test after the Christmas break, our itty-bitty 2 year old just floated on her own today (for a few minutes!!)….this is HUGE Mamas! I heard all the amazing reviews before, but it wasn’t until I enrolled my kids that my jaw has literally dropped at how quickly they advance here. I am so grateful to have businesses like these in our area!
The owners of the Cypress and Pearland locations have shared their story with us. We hope you enjoy it!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the area?
Dan and Tammy Schoen, both of us have lived here in the Houston area our entire lives. Well, Dan since he was 3…he was born in St. Louis, but got here as fast as he could! 😊
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
We have two daughters ages 16 and 11…the 11 year old is going on 17 years of age!
Tell us about your business?
Houston Swim Club is a place where children (and adults) can come learn how to become safer in and around the water in a warm, nurturing, LOVING environment. We have professional instructors who teach students in a small class setting the life-saving skill of swimming so that they can be confident, enjoy the water, and even swim competitively, if they chose to do so.
When did the idea of creating your business start? How long have you been in business?
My sister and I began working for Phill Hansel, a former USA Women’s Olympic Swim Team Coach and also the Univ of Houston Coach of 39 years, when we were in high school. We started as lifeguards and soon made the move to teaching lessons! Phill started Phill Hansel Swim Academy and Houston Swim Club in the early 1960’s. As the business grew, our mom, Bonnie Howe, began running the office for Phill. In 1994 my parents mortgaged everything they had and bought the Sharpstown location from him in 1994. Dan began teaching lessons at Phill Hansel Swim Academy while in college way back in 1992. A fun fact is that Dan and I actually met there! Technically… even then… I was his boss!
After college Dan took a financial position within the Mortgage business while I remained working with my mom and siters at Houston Swim Club. He always missed the water and the reward of teaching swimming and making a difference in children’s lives, so he gave up the finance world. We opened our own Houston Swim Club location in Pearland in 2009. As the Pearland location grew, so did the Cypress area! So many growing families that needed proper swim lessons and we met that need by opening our location here in 2013! In short… our family has been doing this for over 33 years!!!
What is one thing you can point to that helped make your business successful?
Passion! We are very passionate about teaching swimming and reducing the number of childhood drownings! We both know that drowning is preventable and want to make a change while teaching a love of the water! Dan and I both grew up loving the water and swam competitively as kids. We each have so many great memories that involve water-trips to the beach, fishing, swim meets, pool parties, summer camps…the list goes on and on! We want to create those memories for other families, too! We are also truly family owned and operated. We are on site and involved in the day to day operations so that we can share our passion with our team members so they can share it with our swim families!
What was your biggest challenge as a business and how did you overcome it?
I would have to say the “Competition”. Other businesses have popped up near our locations and tried to replicate what we have created. People with deep pockets that are looking to invest their money, but know little to nothing about swimming or teaching children, have begun to “buy” their way into the swim school business by buying franchises. Some have built pretty, new, shiny facilities very close to our locations, but the proof is in the water. It doesn’t take long for a knowledgeable mom to see it’s not how we do it! Therefore, we just keep doing what we know best—sharing our passion for swimming with others. Making kids safer in and around water! No one else can copy or compete with that!
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What is your favorite part about what you do?
We love getting to work with each other and growing our “family” with our team members and swim families. We don’t get to teach the kiddos as often as we used to, so now our teaching is focused on our amazing staff! Sometimes it is scary to know that so many others are relying on you. This is their livelihood too. But getting to help others to become successful makes you feel great at the end of the day!
What does the future look like for you and your business?
Bright! 2019 was great! We look forward to continuing to save lives every day and watch these “Guppies” grow into “Dolphins” and into “Kingfish” and on and on. Keep your eyes open as we have plans to open another location not too far off!
What advice would you give to others that want to start something new?
You need to believe, whole-heartedly, in what you do. You can’t “fake it till you make it”. If you aren’t authentic, you can’t be successful! Do it everyday with PASSION!
Any advice for juggling all the things in daily life?
Balance! Don’t forget WHY you are doing what you are doing. If you focus so much on your business that you lose your family and friends (or your sanity), what’s the point?! You won’t have anyone to enjoy it with you. Find good people who share your passion so that you can trust them to run your business while you take some time to enjoy life, too!
Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through?
Obviously, Phill Hansel and my mom who really started this path so long ago. The biggest of thanks must go out to our ENTIRE team of “staff” (we call them family) that we couldn’t be successful without! The passion these young men and women have in what they do is remarkable and you can see it in their daily actions!
How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
Cypress is a tight knit community that believes in sharing good things with their neighbors and friends! The “word-of-mouth” with moms in this area spreads like wildfire and that has been very helpful to us. We can talk all day long about how good we are, but when one mom says it to another mom… it’s priceless! It’s great to know that other moms are helping spread the message that drowning is preventable and HSC is where you need to be to help your children learn that message!