Bobby Hayes was 9 when his parents, Bob and Barbara Hayes, opened Leisure Time Pools & Spas.
The Federal Aviation Administration transferred his father, a former controller and instructor, here from Long Island in 1971. His mom, looking for a way to entertain five kids, went in search of aboveground pools, the rage in the old New York neighborhood, and found no one sold them.
She consequently opened Leisure Time at 4831 NW 39 in Bethany. The store, which has expanded and now has a second location at 8501 S Interstate 35 Service Road, celebrated its 40th year of operation on March 1.
Hayes, his wife Shannon and son Ryan work at the south store, while his younger brother Tim Hayes, wife Ann, and two nephews man the original store.
The business employs five others full time, and up to eight additional seasonal workers.
Hayes, 49, sat down with The Oklahoman last week to talk about his professional and personal life. This is an edited transcript:
A: Age 14. I used to drive my motorcycle (in those days, you only had to be 14 to get a motorcycle license) after school to the Bethany store and stock shelves and do water tests. I liked working, mainly because I equated work with money. When I turned 16, I bought a brand-new 1979 Camaro Z28.
A: We didn't attend the same school; I went to Putnam City West and she went to Northeast High School. We met in youth group at the Baptist church. She was 15 and I was 18. We dated off and on for two to three years, married the month after she graduated high school and began working together at this south side store, which we'd just opened. Shannon had previously worked as a part-time cashier in our Bethany store.
A: No. Mom retired five to six years ago and my dad, 20 years ago. But he, at 76, still manages our website (leisuretime
A: We sell fun to people, usually families. We're seeing a lot of second-generation buyers. People will tell us, “My parents bought a Doughboy Pool when I was little.” Or, we'll see those same parents come back to buy new pools for their grandchildren to enjoy. An Edmond customer recently bought a new wall and steel parts for a pool he bought from us 35 years ago.
A: Not at our current house. We have a neighborhood pool and the association bans aboveground pools. We have a Sundance spa, though. Shannon and I are in it, about every night. It's good therapy. The older we get, we find we need to soak our bones.