Swimming season has finally arrived, and it is good to know the Hudson Valley has a one-stop shop for a pool owner’s every need. The Turck family has been helping people cool off since 1971, when they started their pool servicing and supply business out of their two-car barn-style garage.
But Aqua Jet’s story really began back in the 60s, when John, a Kingston High School graduate, and Eleanor, a nursing student from Yonkers, met and started their family.
“Dad was a state trooper, and we had a beautiful home on West Chester Street,” says their daughter, Carlene. “He’s also a natural handyman, always able to figure out how things work.”
John really wanted his family to have a pool, so he went ahead and installed one himself. Soon, an uncle and neighbors asked for pools too.
The business took off from there, with everyone in the family helping out. Carlene even started attending BioGuard seminars at age 14, and she would follow her dad around the store to listen and learn.
John, Eleanor, and their four daughters were joined by Eleanor’s best friend from Yonkers, and Carlene’s sister, Christine, married Guy Leonard, who returned from business school and truly became part of the Aqua Jet family.
“We were all involved,” says Carlene. “Four daughters. We used to tease Dad, ‘Couldn’t you have opened a clothing business?’”
“We love seeing each other every day,” says Carlene. “Come March, we all get excited and revved up. The store’s stocked, and we’re looking at helping people open around 800 pools. We’re like a well-oiled machine.”
That well-oiled machine soon outgrew the family’s garage, and they opened their first retail location on East Chester Street in Kingston, expanding to their current 10,000 square-foot location in Lake Katrine by 1980. The family opened a satellite store in Highland in 1992, which is now managed mostly by Carlene and Christine while Guy runs the pool installation and service department.
In addition to pool installations, Aqua Jet offers renovations, openings and closings, and weekly maintenance for both in-ground and above-ground pools. They will travel all over Ulster, Dutchess, Columbia, Greene, and Delaware counties to keep their customers happy. In April, they were already at work installing their sixth in-ground pool of the season.
“It’s insanely busy,” says Carlene. “I wish we had fifteen more people.”
Aqua Jet employs several people who have been with the business for over 20 years, and they also have a group of young employees who come and go, having learned invaluable skills.
And they will always remember Aqua Jet and how its name has a clever triple meaning. J-E-T stands for John and Eleanor Turck, plus John is a huge New York Jet’s fan.
“Then there’s, you know, jets of water,” says Carlene, “which is even more appropriate nowadays, since we also have spas.”
If you are yearning for a spa this summer, Aqua Jet can set up an indoor or outdoor one. Custom seats, remote controls, and built-in stereo systems are just the beginning of the accoutrements they offer, and innovative technology from Hot Springs keeps the maintenance trouble-free.
For pools, Carlene says that a hot item right now is an underwater light show that syncs up to playlists, with six colored lights working in time with your favorite music.
“And you’d be amazed at how many PaddlePaws pool floats we’ve been selling for dogs,” she says. “We can hardly keep them in stock.”
Aqua Jet also offers patio furniture, goggles, flippers, noodles, air mattresses, and all the pool classics you probably recall from your childhood.
Carlene, herself, has a freeform pool, which she relaxes in during the precious moments of free time she carves out during her busy summers.
“My grandchildren especially love it,” she says. “That’s what people love most about the pool—It gets the whole family together, outdoors, off the electronic gadgets, having wonderful times.”
And Carlene cannot imagine working anywhere else. “I’m 55 and have been working with my parents since I was 14,” she says, “because what we’re selling is just so much fun.”
AQUA JET POOLS, SPAS, AND PATIO FURNITURE
1606 Ulster Avenue, Lake Katrine