Anchor Backyard Pools & Spas at 1450 Lee Blvd. is one of the older businesses still in existence in Lehigh Acres.
"We've been here since 1988 having first opened our business next to the China Star restaurant where we were for seven years. We moved to Lee Blvd. in 1995," said Cliff Ayers, its owner.
Anchor Backyard Pools & Spas offers any type of service you need if you own a pool and if you don't own one, Ayers says his people can build you one or even remodel and renovate an older one.
Cliff Ayers at his desk at his Backyard Pools & Spas business on Lee Blvd. in Lehigh. Photos by Mel Toadvine
The company is responsible for the construction of thousands of pools in Lehigh and Lee County and he continues to serve a great many of them. He said there are around three other pool firms in the community.
At the store on Lee Blvd., Ayers can come up with almost anything you need for maintaining a pool. He also sells accessories for pools such as all kinds of tiled sea creatures that can be used in and around your pool. Prices start at $35 and can go up as much as around $1500. He can provide you with all types of fountains to be used in and around your pools, too.
"People like to decorate their pools and many use the smaller tiled items like the starfish for the steps on their pool to keep people from falling," he said. Some of the items are rather large. All are hanging on the wall to view when you walk into the business. Rita Ayers also helps in the office and is glad to take your calls, he said.
While the economy has been rough in Lehigh and the county, Ayers says his company has felt it like everyone else, but there are still pools to be maintained and he keeps up with many of the people he has know over the years. He said there have been as many as 12 employees working for the business. Currently, there are five.
After 23 years in the business, there isn't much Ayes can't take care of and he is happy to do so.
You'll find patio furniture at the store and cushions and he can find almost anything you may want for your pool.
If you are having a problem with your pool or have a question he is always ready to help and he will come out and look your pool over to see what problems you may be having.
Green water is not what pool owners want to see in their pools and Ayers makes sure that the water is always sparkling clear. He knows how to keep a pool balanced with chlorine and other chemicals that may be used. He can service the pool or customers can come to the store to buy the chemicals. He also maintains salt water pools and explained that a mechanism turns the salt water into chlorine to make the water safe.
Ayers is also a member of the Shrine Club and is a 22nd degree Mason. He has also been active over the years with the Kiwanis and the Elks in Lehigh and is active in the Richmond Avenue Baptist Church in Lehigh.
He brags that he has been raising grandchildren for 14 years.
Constructions of pools has gone up in price over the years like everything else due to the increased cost of labor, cement and other materials.
"Back in 1962, you could build a 14 by 22-foot pool for $3,950. Today that pool could cost as much as $30,000," he said.
One of his customers, Tom McNutt of Lehigh, stopped by the other day.
"Cliff's been taking care of my pool for at least 20 years. And he does a great job. He is an expert and a professional," McNutt said.
Ayers is interested in community affairs and can talk to anyone about just about anything to do with Lehigh. On incorporation, he said he favors it, citing how much better the community would be if the government was local and not run by the county. He said that when the idea of incorporating Lehigh came up a few years ago, it lost in the voting booth because the people didn't understand.
"We'll eventually become an incorporated city, but it probably will take another 10 to 12 years. We can provide better services for ourselves here in Lehigh than having to depend on the county to do it for us," he said.
Ayers goes way back and knew Lee Ratner, the original owner of the ranch that he turned into a community originally for retirees.
"He was well liked in the community and is responsible for turning the area into platted lots and the people up north started coming down," he said.
Ayers is an avid reader and is especially interested in Florida history.
When you walk into his store, you'll find his office out in the open in the back. It may not be the most tidy office, but Ayers says he knows where everything is.
The future looks good, he says, and he expects the economy to turn around, and he will be here to build Lehigh's future pools and to continue to maintain the ones here now and in the future.