A tribute to John Werling and to those who knew and loved him…
In 1994 I met a man named John Werling. Until that point in time I had met many guys but few men. In the winter of 1994 I was fortunate enough to meet J.W. For those of you who weren’t lucky enough to know him, J.W. was also known as Mr. John Werling.
When I met J.W. he was working at Ivar Martin Pools. In 1994 Masterson Pools purchased the property and the business that was previously Ivar Martin Pools / Marlin Pool Service. Masterson Pools was to move into the Ivar Martin facility as Roy Martin was retiring. I was a bit apprehensive and had no idea how the transition would unfold.
On the first day we arrived at 506 Route 17 North in Ramsey, NJ, I had the pleasure of meeting J.W. John immediately welcomed me to the neighborhood and began working with all the Masterson Pools employees to begin the process of renovating the old Ivar Martin retail store. The renovation process required significant demolition work including jackhammering and sledgehammering along with other labor intensive work. John was the first in line to begin the demolition work. When I suggested that some of the younger guys could do the demo work, I met John the “man” for the first time. It had not taken very long, probably less than an hour.
John politely told me that he was perfectly capable of doing the work and that he did not intend to stand around and watch other people do the hard work. The look in John’s eyes and the tone of his voice made it perfectly clear to me that John was not kidding. John proceeded to out work every other man on the job that day and most days thereafter. Later that afternoon John came to me and said something that I will never forget. J.W. told me that first day I met him, “I have a few good years left in me “. Well, that day a legend was born and the culture of our company was changed forever. You see John was the son of a farmer and a farmer himself. John had a work ethic, a will of steel, and a passion for life. John truly was a man’s man.
J.W. had a lot more than a few good years left in him. For the next 19 years J.W. became the heart and soul of Masterson Pools & Spas, Inc.
J.W. was a strong, compassionate man with an incredible sense of humor. John would always be the first to help and the last to complain. The stories of John’s escapades with customers and associates are legendary. Whether you were a very wet, arrogant building inspector who J. W. steered directly into a swimming pool covered with a dusty solar cover or a very stubborn German mason who is still trying to recover his tools from the Hudson River, John knew how to make you laugh. In fact the last time I had the privilege of being with J.W., he had all the nurses on the hospital floor laughing.
If J.W.’s work ethic and sense of humor were not enough to make him a legend, then his kindness and caring for God’s creatures certainly puts him in class all his own. John loved animals. It did not matter if it was a stray cat, an abused dog at a customer’s house, or a captured groundhog. John never saw an animal he would not help. On more than one occasion I watched John walk to the side of his home and feed the animals. It was a sight to behold. As if on cue, the animals would walk up to John out of the woods, all at once, all together like one big happy family. On one particular day I watched J.W. feed a group of animals that included deer, swans, turkeys, dogs, cats, you name it. J. W. was really the reincarnation of Dr. Doolittle. The woods in Ramsey will never be the same.
John loved to work and he was exceptionally good at it. But John also loved the beach and the casinos. In the last weeks of John’s life he went to the beach, gambled a bit and returned to work on a Thursday so as to take care of his customers before the weekend.
J. W. has left us way too soon but I also know that John did it his way, right up till the last day of his life.
Many people that own or manage companies spend countless hours developing mission statements and trying to develop a corporate or business culture. A mission statement captures, in a few short sentences, the essence of a business’s goals, philosophy, and ethics. J.W. was our living, breathing mission statement for close to twenty years. John’s work ethic, honesty and passion for life were and are an example for everyone at Masterson Pools & Spas. So when you see “J. W.” on one of our trucks in the future or on our logo, you will know what it stands for.
God Bless J. W. and thanks for the memories and life lessons.
With love & the utmost respect for a man and a life well lived.
& the rest of the crew at MPS