Shannons Pools named Small Business of the Year
Small Business of the Year honoree Shannon McCollum cleans local resident’s pool.(Photo by Terri Thompson-Sayler)
By Terri Thompson-Sayler
For a relatively young person, Shannon McCollum has been in business a long time.
Her first venture - with her aunt and brother - made quite a profit one summer in California selling lemonade to neighbors.
More recently, McCollum has built Shannons Pools into a viable, reliable pool cleaning and products company. For dedication, quality service and inspiration to other entrepreneurs, Shannons Pools will be honored as Small Business of the Year by the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce at its Sept. 30 annual meeting and banquet.
McCollum’s quick-thinking and troubleshooting are legendary. She recently fixed pool lights, for example, just five hours before a major party. One client says he’s amazed by McCollum’s ability to have a pool “cleaned, scrubbed and crystal clear in three days.” Her friends agree that she is a cross between Tigger and the Tazmanian Devil, full of energy and constantly moving.
McCollum grew up in San Jose, California and as a teenager moved to Dallas. She attended Stephen F. Austin State University, earning her bachelor’s in physical education.
Her community activities include refereeing Little Dribblers and collegiate level basketball and serving as a Maroney Pool lifeguard for eight years. With her whistle and hat she could have easily passed as a double for Gilligan.
For 15 years, McCollum was the “take no guff” physical education teacher in Central Heights Elementary.
Former students still recall sitting in the corner, straining at extra sit-ups, and running laps for misbehaving in her class.
Central Heights Elementary won the President’s Physical Fitness Award seven years. She was named Physical Education Teacher of the Year seven times and nominated for Disney’s Teacher of the Year.
While serving as Texas governor, George W. Bush visited her class and was impressed with her knowledge of professional sports, especially baseball. He dropped back by later during the school visit, but McCollum let him know he’d have to wait until she was finished with her students. Not even the governor could interrupt class time. He did wait.
Deeply affected by the events of 9-11, McCollum decided she wanted to pursue her business ambitions. She retired in 2001 to operate her pool cleaning business full-time. She opened the store in 2004 to provide services and pool products to the Nacogdoches community.
The store now has five full-time employees and a few part-timers helping with everything from customer service to cleaning pools.
Her clients and mentors speak volumes of praise for her.
“Shannon is the hardest working woman I have ever met,” Jim Elder said. “She is focused, goal-orientated and achieves what she sets out to do.”
Charmayne Dickhaut agrees. “Knowing Shannon’s work ethic, I was proud to help her get her start. Shannon would even come to dinner, swim in the pool, see something that needed to be cleaned and go to work. She works 24-7 to get things done and done right for her clients. She is a dedicated business woman.”
McCollum helps with fundraisers for the Nacogdoches Animal Shelter and Humane Society. She’s been a top achiever in Nacogdoches County Chamber membership drives. She volunteers two hours a week at the Animal Shelter taking euthanized animals to the land fill and collecting cans for recycling to raise money.
Recently, she was the personal trainer in the second Pineywoods “Change Your Life” make over which helped Thompson-Sayler lose 90 lbs. and get into great physical shape.
“Shannon has been such a daily part of my routine and close friend,” Thompson-Sayler said. “I am very fortunate to have had someone like her on my team to get me in a better place. Both my kids think the world of her too. She is now Aunt Shannon.”
McCollum was named the Daily Sentinel’s Personal Trainer of the Year in 2008 and Best Pool Store in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
“Shannon has been an inspiration for women to own their own businesses,” Thompson-Sayler said.
The Nacogdoches County Chamber’s Small Business of the Year award honors a business with less than 10 employees that has proven economic impact, community involvement and leadership.
The Chamber will honor McCollum at the 87th Annual Meeting and Membership Banquet on Tuesday, Sept. 30, at Hotel Fredonia and Convention Center. The event begins at 6 p.m. with a raffle and social hour. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m.
An event registration form is posted on www.nacogdoches.org or contact the Chamber office, 560-5533, for tickets and table sponsorships. Contact Chamber Vice Chair Michelle Smith, 569-1947, to donate items for the raffle and online auction.
Other award recipients will also be recognized at the event, including Citizen of the Year Francis E. “Ab” Abernethy; Large Business of the Year Elliott Electric Supply, Inc.; and Medium Business of the Year Cotton Patch Café.