Owner Spotlight: Joe and Mandy Yackey Never Give Up

Joe and Mandy Yackey LOVE Goldfish Swim School so much and were so determined to open their own location that they persevered for three and a half years. The couple was questioned and doubted by well-meaning skeptics – before finally opening their own Goldfish Swim School in West Chester, Ohio. And it was worth the wait!

Discovering Goldfish Swim School

Joe and Mandy have been together for 11 years – married for 2 – and were living their lives together in Louisville, KY. Joe started and owned a landscape contracting business for 10 years and Mandy worked in the health insurance industry for about six years when thoughts of Goldfish began swimming in their heads.

See, it turns out that Joe’s dad and Goldfish Swim School CEO and co-founder Chris McCuiston’s dad were best friends from college and still maintained that relationship. So, throughout the past 11-plus years, Joe and Mandy had been hearing all about this concept of a swim school, and the success that Goldfish Swim School has been having around the country.

Joe started asking Chris more and more questions about his business, watching it grow from afar, and finally Joe and Mandy decided to check out Goldfish Swim School for themselves.

“I fell in love with it from the moment I walked in the door,” Mandy said.

You want to open a swim school?

Joe and Mandy were looking for a new career endeavor; a life change. Joe explored Goldfish Swim School’s current, successful markets and thought Louisville would be an ideal city to open a new location. However, there were quite a few skeptics.

“People in Louisville think you’re crazy when you want to put a pool in the ground and teach children to swim,” Joe said. “No one had ever heard of a swim school.”

Joe met with dozens of investors, lenders, and venture capitalists to open a new Goldfish Swim School, but no one seemed to see his vision.

“I got laughed out of a lot of banks, and several other places,” Joe said.

But he’s thankful the Goldfish Swim School corporate team stuck by them through the years they spent trying to make their dream a reality. In fact, CEO Chris recommended some partners from Michigan, Harry and Allison Parr, who were looking at potential sites in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area – which, coincidentally, is where Mandy grew up.

“Connecting with Harry and Allison was almost like fate,” Mandy said. “We really struck up a partnership the first time we met. Joe and I are both grateful to be on this journey with them.”

Three-and-a-half years after deciding to open their own Goldfish Swim School franchise, Joe and Mandy were able to celebrate when they opened the doors of the West Chester location  in September 2016.

“Joe made this happen for us,” Mandy said. “When he originally looked at opening it, I was like, ‘I’m here, I’m down, but I don’t know how we will do it.’ He really was the driving force behind everything.”

Life at Goldfish Swim School

The best part about their new business? All of it! These two #LOVEGoldfish.

“I love the people part of it,” Joe said. “Working here is a lot of fun, from the students, the parents and the staff. It’s all different dynamics of excitement: Kids are excited when they walk through the door; The parents, who are our age, make it kind of like a social hour and seem to really appreciate the effort and attention we give to their families. Everyone’s kind of blown away when they come in here.”

For Mandy, being able to teach kids an important life skill is the icing on the cake.

“It’s easy to fall in love with the kids you’re working with,” Mandy said. “The coolest thing is not only that they are learning to swim, but the confidence – once they go through the hurdle of being scared of the water, and then getting that confidence.”

Sign up for swimming lessons!

Stop by a Goldfish Swim School location near you to sign up your kids (ages 4 months and older) to learn to swim from instructors who use integrity, compassion and trust – and you’ll soon see some extraordinary results!

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