Aqua-Tots Swim Schools, one of the world’s largest swim franchises, officially opened its international headquarters in East Mesa with some fanfare that included Mayor John Giles and Councilman Jeremy Whitaker.
Aqua-Tots’ new state-of-the-art facility at 1110 S. Greenfield Road, includes 6,000 square feet of office space, 6,000 square feet for Uncle Bear’s Grill and Tap and a functional rooftop deck.
Aqua-Tots now has 105 swim schools with locations in 14 countries on three continents.
Joining the city officials at the opening were Aqua-Tots co-founders Ron Sciarro and Paul Preston as well as the company CEO Craig Wright.
“This new headquarters office gives us a unique opportunity to serve our franchise owners as well as families all over the world, offering them the most advanced swim lessons available to keep children safe in and around the water for a lifetime,” Sciarro said. “We will forever be grateful to our Aqua-Tots families, franchise partners and team members for walking alongside us as we’ve watched this dream become a reality.”
Founded in 1991, the swim franchise opted for a new headquarters because of increasing demand for its year-round indoor swim instruction, community outreach and drowning-prevention education to children as young as 4 months.
“It’s a little overwhelming at times. We don’t often look up and celebrate — but it feels good,” said Preston. “We love bringing people from all over the world into Mesa.
“We’re showing off our city with the people, the hospitality and how business-friendly we are, and then also solidifying ourselves to keep teaching great quality swim lessons.”
The new building will also serve as a site for franchise-training, including classroom time for those seeking to open their own branches elsewhere.
“Our mission is to make the communities we’re in better,” said Preston. “On the franchising side, we love helping people live their dreams of opening their own business. When you own a franchise, you’re not alone — you have a whole team of people supporting you.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3,500 drowning-related deaths occur in the United States each year — giving the company even more fuel to continue to grow locally, nationally and internationally, Preston added.
In Arizona, at least 25 kids ages 5 and under have died from drowning each year since 2013.
“We’re in the business of saving kids,” Preston said. “The ABCs of water safety are: Adult supervision, Barriers and to take Classes — whether with us, or someone else.”
What started as a seasonal, learn-to-swim operation, later turned into a year-round business with a comprehensive training curriculum — geared toward meeting the needs of both children and parents — and state-of-the-art training centers.
The founders created the beginning stages of the franchise model, and opened their first facility in 2005.
“We love being in Mesa and the East Valley,” said Preston. “I think it’s a great place to do business and great place to serve our community and the neighbors that we’re here with.”
Giles stressed the value of the new facility, stating, “Businesses like Aqua-Tots do more than call Mesa home.”
“They serve as leaders who take our business community to the next level by creating new jobs and economic diversity while continuing to serve the families of Mesa and beyond,” he said, adding:
“We’re proud to have the Aqua-Tots Franchise Headquarters as a part of the thriving Mesa community and stand behind them as they work to make the world a safer place for children and families all over the world.”