By MATT BLOIS
The center of the Pool Kings’ kingdom is a renovated thrift shop on Duplex Road in Spring Hill.
They just moved in last month and there are still some wires hanging from the ceiling and boxes of tools next to the front door. A TV plays a highlight reel of some of the fancy pools they have built, and some of their awards hang on the wall.
Kyle Peek and his son Justin Peek still operate their pool construction business Peek Pools out of the shop, but starting in 2016 they also became the stars of a home improvement show called The Pool Kings where they build high-end pools. Next month they’re going to give a presentation about finding a good pool contractor at the Home and Remodeling Expo in Nashville.
They became the pool kings when they got a call from a TV producer a few years ago who wanted to make a reality show about building pools for the DIY network.
“Actually we got four phone calls. The first three I didn’t return because I thought it was a joke,” Kyle Peek said. “Why would anybody want to follow us?”
It wasn’t a joke. The DIY network had seen the success of other renovation shows and wanted to replicate it.
The network already has shows called Kitchen Crashers — where an interior designer finds shoppers at home improvement stores and then renovates their kitchens — and The Vanilla Ice Project — where the rapper turned real estate investor remodels a Florida mansion. Hiring two pool contractors from Spring Hill, Tennessee, seemed like the obvious next step.
The production company making Pool Kings interviewed hundreds of people, but finally settled on the Peeks after making a pilot episode that aired in 2016. The Peeks have no idea why the production company picked them.
“If we were supposed to act we wouldn’t be here. We’re not actors,” Justin Peek said. “If it’s more than two sentences, forget it.”
The show isn’t scripted, but the Peeks said they have to redo some scenes. For example, if they find a cannonball from the Civil War while digging a pool the film crew will ask them to cover it back up and then find it again from a different angle. Everything on the show is real, but the version that gets on TV might be the sixth or seventh time the Peeks have run through that same scene.
The show has brought in tons of new customers, but having a film crew around can slow down construction, which Justin Peeks is sometimes frustrating.
“Instead of me being able to go into a backyard and say just go over here and go dig the pool … it’s pretend you’re going to pull up and and talk to us about it. Tell us why you’re doing that,” he said. “It turns a half-day, one-day process into a three-day process.”
In addition to selling pools to their customers, the Peeks also have to sell their customers to the TV network. If a customer wants a pool that isn’t that flashy, or even if they just don’t act right on camera, the network might ask them to find someone else. Between the customers that have no desire to be on the show and customers that the network doesn’t like, the Peeks said it can be hard to find enough pools to film.
They’re only building a few more pool per year than they used to. The Peeks actually build the pools they design rather than hiring a construction crew, which means they can only take on so many projects.
Even as the show heads into its second season later this year, the pool kings don’t really feel like kings. They don’t have a crown or a throne, and if it was up to them they would have named the show A Couple of Bozos in a Truck. They just build pools.
“It’s not my favorite name … We were hoping they were going to change it,” Justin Peek said. “It makes it seem like you’re royalty or something, and we are far from that.”