After a long and rather interesting negotiation we land the contract of a new facility. We were very close to turning it down and walk away. “The one that wags the tail the most often becomes the looser.” We were very interested but not at whatever cost or deal. We knew what we wanted and had no intension of slacking on quality or getting into poor agreements. Thank you to Johan who tirelessly read the small parts in the contract again and again and again. Thank you also for your skills in finance and quick working mind when it comes to figures. That has saved us many times, you often amaze me and I must confess that it's amusing to sit back and enjoy how cool you are when it comes to math and agreements.
The construction starts on rebuilding an old leisure pool within an old big company building. Stockholm is special to me as it is my birth town, it's here I went to school and swam during my youth. And we are opening a Swimmix facility here – I am nothing but thrilled and again it's hard to understand that it is true!
We find and hire the Swimmix Stockholm staff. They come down to Malmoe for practical training and back in stockholm days of theory. PR rolls out, flyers are distributed, big signs are up and customers start signing up. The plan is to open in August but it's not ready... no surprize. We open during September and I fly back and forth to Stockholm every week to help and support our teachers in the water with teaching the Swimmix way. Thank you to the entire team in Stockholm for the time, interest and commitment.
We also hire a young woman who just moved from Stockholm to our office in Malmoe to handle bookings for the Stockholm facility. This woman personalizes the word charming and after the job interview she said, if you hire me I'll bake the best chocolate cake for you. She got the job! And her chocolate cake was awesome.
That was Tina Ahl Sten and she completed our outstanding administration team with Anki Lawrence who took care of Limhamn, Kinn Hjelmblink who took and still takes care of Denmark and Tina Folkeson who took care of finance. Thank you for being you, thank you for your time and dedication and for making life easier for us all. Thank you for interesting discussions, development and the good times we had together.
Teacher training has always been something very important for us to invest in. We have always had several annual events for our staff members with plenty of opportunities for learning and developing. Every year we start season off refreshing our first aid skills with Ib Olsen, an ambulance rescuer and an outstanding and entertaining educator. We also have a yearly Kick-Off in August that Dave DuBois has been a very appreciated and often returning educator, inspirational speaker and motivator. 2008 is, so far, the last year we have the pleasure of having him with us. Other elements have been voice coaches, performers, psychologists, pediatrics and many others. Thank you for coming and sharing and lifting our spirits and team. Thank you to staff, previous and present, who always attend with great interest and participation.
Sometimes friends from near and far comes to visit. It's always nice. I'm not always good on remembering to take pictures but this year I caught Melina Slotnick and Sharron Crawly on a picture while they visited. While visiting and touring our facilities basement and technical area they discovered that we have a secret party club down there. They quickly named the club “The filter Five” only exclusive members can join – we still do not know who.
It's so nice to have guests and thank you to all who has come and visited us through the years. We are always happy to see friends and colleagues and it is also interesting to see our Swimmix through your eyes.
Opening in Stockholm was not a breeze. Far from it! Opening a new facility is tough but this was tougher than tough. We opened in a construction area with only one out of the two pools operational. Water in the showers was freezing cold after only two hours of classes. (In Scandinavia everyone showers before entering the pool due to strict regulations on hygiene). Heating system was under dimensioned. The ventilation system sounded like we had a jet engine running by the pool and shutting it off left us working in a steam bath.
Pool water often dropped below 30 degrees Centigrade which ment that we regularly had to cancel our baby classes. Due to contract we had a guaranteed temperature between 33.0-34.0. The chemicals in the basement was not appropriate due to handling and regulations which ment that also Johan had to fly back and forth to Stockholm and take care of the technical part. Just as we put in our office inventories we had a burglary but because we have everything steel-wired to the walls the only thing they do is destroy a window, a locker and leave a mess.
Customers are happy with our program and how the facilities look but are not happy with the many cancelations, which is very understandable. We have meetings with the manager of the building and send our complains in writing to the owner and manager but nothing really happens. When talking to other tenants we learn that he is facing more than one lawsuit and that he has not paid his contractors so many has gone into bankruptcy. A disturbing and alarming picture is forming. Too well we remember our contract negotiation. We really thought that he understood that we run a quality concept and what that meant. Our dream is becoming a nightmare. I am not a person who cries when it's tough but I cry. It's so frustrating and it wears and tears me.
In december our lawyer send a written letter that if they don't take care of the shortcomings, finalize and guarantee what we have agreed on in our contract we will terminate the contract. We do not have a chance to deliver the quality and reliability we are known for and it's too stressful to work under these conditions for staff and for us.
We close down and go on a three week Christmas break to give the owner enough time to fix things – ready to open again in mid January and we hope that they understand and call to action.