Reports indicate that the pool and spa business is prospering amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Summer is approaching, and consumers want to enjoy an exquisite backyard pool installation experience in their staycation. Consumers demand on pool maintenance products and services, pool renovations, new structures is on the rise. Social distancing rules affected so many businesses in their sales, but not all industries felt the wrath. The pool and spa industry survived the heat due to the following factors;
1. New pool installation
The demand is high because it is the only option to enjoy summer. Most clients are contacting contractors to have pools installed in their backyard.
2. Existing pools
Homeowners want to bring the summer experience closer by improving their backyard experience. This is because they have to stay indoors and have no other option. Maintaining their pool throughout summer created a niche that the professionals in this industry took advantage of.
High loan application demands
Sarah Bess, the marketing director of Lyon Financial, specializing in loans for outdoor improvements, focusing on the pool, admits to the increase in business sales during this time. She adds that they expected a 20% increase in their sales this year. Then in March, the outbreak happened to create a lot of uncertainties and confusion. The sales went down for a short period, and it was discouraging. In April, there was a sudden and unbelievable rise in sales. The customer demand was too high, and the company was making good proceeds. This situation required that they add 10–15 employees to meet the customers’ demand.
If the sales happen to decrease in June or July, it still won’t take them back to where they were. The increase came about by the idea that clients have an exceptional backyard. It is not all about the pools, but the outdoor experience. Other industries that deal with the construction of the outdoor kitchen, covered porches, gazebos, etc., recorded a great increase in sales. Customers want to invest in their backyard pool installation for summer as well as for future security.
Safety precautions and retail businesses
The health crisis affected retail businesses. This is because of the social distancing rule, and clients find it hard to go to the stores to buy goods. Some retail stores adjusted to the situation to ensure they maximize their sales. They adopted methods such as delivery & curbside pick up. Companies such as Aqua Tech in Winnipeg, Manitoba, dismiss claims of the effects on retails stalls. For them, they adopted the use of contactless water testing. It is advantageous because they can still stay indoors, manage time, and it’s effective for clients. They hope to continue with these services even after the pandemic. Aqua tech, now offers services like chemical only pool maintenance & water sample pick up for those unable to go to the stores. They are dealing with the situation in ways that are appealing to the customer. The crisis was a concern, but they have managed to keep up with the sales. Previously, they only received 2-3 calls a day, now they receive 5-10 calls in an hour. Additionally, the employees have had to organize themselves effectively.
Richard’s Total Backyard in Houston, Texas, set a new financial record in April. It is now a trend in all these outdoor products industries. Cristina Nikolov, a social media marketing manager, recalls a company meeting held at the beginning of March. They had lost hope there would be anyone willing to contract with them at this time. She even told the staff members that they should prepare for bad times.
Then came the Easter Weekend, and the flow of work was unexpected. It was a hectic month for the company, and she would now ask designers to be fast so that they can meet all the clients. Julie Richard, the Vice President, said that the surge was a result of the client’s mindset. No one is certain about the future or when the lockdown will come to an end. This uncertainty has had clients opt to improve their backyards so that whatever happens, they can still enjoy their time from the luxuries of their own home. Employees and designers have had to work overtime to manage all the clients. The month of April is the best financial year in the Companies history. It is not only pools that are marketable, but also hot tubs. For Richard, he just put up a message to reach out to clients that they can have their hot tubs installed and enjoy their stay at home. That opened up a big business opportunity for the company. Crews are sent daily to install hot tubs or renovate them for their clients on weekends to reduce the workload.
The government has been supportive of this course of a backyard experience. Many companies have earned a good sum during this time because the government has allowed them to maintain their operations.The owner of Berggren’s Backyard Oasis Pool Construction in Wenatchee, Micheal Berggren, also experienced the same surge in his business.
The governor of his state realizes the importance of pools in summer and can carry out their business with support from the state. They were able to do four times what they do in a year in equipment sets and cover replacement. He, however, still hopes that things will return to normal because of a few strains caused by the changes. They have to get frequent permission from the state authorities and following up with all the safety measures. He does appreciate this time as well, that was a boost to his business. He notes that the most important thing is that people get paid their salaries to feed their families.
BioLab Plant Reopening Will Impact Chlorine Prices for 2023
The news of BioLab’s plant burning to the ground during Hurricane Laura in 2020 had a ripple effect on chlorine prices that has lasted for the past two years. We first reported that BioLab was rebuilding the plant back in July of 2021. A recent announcement that construction is completed and in time for summer production has pool industry analysts optimistic. “We are delighted to reopen our BioLab facility in time to support the 2023 pool season,” said Michael Sload, CEO of KIK Consumer Products.
BioLab is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of dry chlorine products. An announcement that the Westlake, Louisiana facility is fully operational means that one of the driving factors for the initial spike we saw on the price of chlorine has been removed. Prices for dry chlorine products soared in 2021 due to concerns about shortages and remained high through the summer of 2022.
Understanding The Correlation Between BioLab & Price Increases
The conditions for a sudden surge in the price for chlorine stemmed partly from the fact that BioLab was out of commission. The main factor that was driving prices to explode during the past two years was largely due to the pandemic in general.
A large percentage of the population was quarantined, which meant more people than ever before, were at home and using their swimming pool. This put a much higher glut on demand than anticipated. With the pandemic shutting many plants down, and logistical delays plaguing distributors throughout most of 2021, these conditions as well as rising inflation in 2022 kept prices high through the summer.
The reopening of the BioLab facility will certainly impact the supply chain in a positive way. “BioLab will be actively supplying the pool market for the 2023 season which should provide some relief,” said plant manager Donald Brunette.
Prices are predicted to begin dropping a bit in light of that fact but will certainly not sink lower than they were prior to the pandemic. As the population starts to adjust to a post-Covid world, the surge we saw for swimming pools has already begun to recalibrate to pre-pandemic levels. The only remaining catalyst for keeping chlorine prices from truly resetting back to 2020 is the cumulative rate of inflation is roughly 14.7% higher than in 2020.
While this should certainly factor into the equation, most experts agree that with this news, the chlorine shortage is finally over and a bucket of chlorine tablets should cost substantially less next summer than it has in previous years. This comes as welcome news for both consumers and pool professionals.
Ultimate Water Taps Jeff Jones for Sales of Chlorine Genie
Ultimate Water, whose flagship product is the Chlorine Genie, is pleased to announce the addition of industry veteran Jeff Jones as the new Regional Sales Manager and Buying Group Liaison for the company’s residential and commercial divisions. Based out of Texas, Jones has been in the swimming pool industry for over 40 years spanning a broad range of roles including the VP of Sales for DEL Ozone, National Sales Manager for Letro Products, as well as work in construction management and sales for Blue Haven and Riverbend Pools. Most recently Jones managed buying group sales for Florida Water Products.
“We are very pleased to have Jeff join our team,” says Thomas Vessiere, National Sales Director for Ultimate Water. “Jeff brings deep experience, industry knowledge, and strong relationships that will be especially helpful as the demand for the Chlorine Genie grows exponentially in our industry.”
Having sold and designed pool water sanitation systems for many years, Jones is very enthusiastic about being a part of the growing success of the Chlorine Genie. “The design and functionality of the Chlorine Genie makes it an ideal product for our industry and is especially welcome right now as builders, retailers and service professionals grapple with the most efficient way to continuously produce chlorine safely, cost effectively and immediately for their customers,” explains Jones.
Jones will be at the AQUALive Show booth # 416 and can be reached directly at [email protected] or by calling 214-415-2510.
More information about the Chlorine Genie can be found at:
San Diego, CA
A Borates Shortage is Looming on The Horizon
One of the specialty chemicals being talked about a lot in light of the chlorine shortages and rising prices are borates. As strong proponents of borates, it troubles us to say that our go-to sanitzer supplement may soon be facing the same shortages and rising costs that we’ve been seeing on the trichlor side.
What The Boron Shortage Means For The Pool Industry
If you’re in the pool business you already know, borates are becoming increasingly difficult to find. What inventory is available is vastly more expensive than in previous years. We’re already knee-deep into the dog days of summer and prices for chlorine have skyrocketed well past analysts’ projections.
A lot of pool service professionals have been turning to borates as the savior during this time of inflation and rising prices. Many technicians already use borates as a buffer against upwards shifting pH. When your pH level rises above what is deemed “normal” (about 7.8), using borates achieves optimum results.
Why Pool Professionals Are Turning To Borates
Bacteria can thrive in water with a high pH level. When this happens it makes chlorine less effective. Pool professionals use borates to alleviate the issue, because it works to keep pH from drifting upward. In addition, there are other positive aspects to using borates in your pool. For one, it keeps the pool clear of algae and calcium scaling. Pool equipment repair specialists will be the first ones to recommend borates. When it comes to maintaining ideal water chemistry for your pool equipment, borates does an amazing job.
For the past few years, the adoption of borates by pool pros has steadily increased season after season. The concern now is that we may have hit maximum capacity as demand has increased well beyond available inventory.
Dwindling Boron Supplies Driving Prices Higher
The global boron market shortage is driving prices higher this season. For those who’ve been thinking of switching to using borates, this definitely is something to consider. When it comes to getting trichlor at affordable rates, it already feels that pool pros are a lower priority as far as it goes to maintaining pricing structures. Now, it appears the same thing has begun happening with borates.
Although borates and boric acid are near synonymous with pools, the swimming pool industry itself is actually a lower priority in terms of its consumption of boron. The industrial glass industry is the largest consumer of boron, roughly 48%, followed by the ceramics industry (15%) and agricultural industry (15%); the cleaning industry of which the pool industry represents a fraction consumes roughly 2% of the world’s boron.
You’ll find boron in everything from industrial fertilizers to high-end ceramics and solar panels. Boron also has medical applications which improve wound healing and boosts the body’s usage of estrogen, testosterone, and vitamin D. It improves magnesium absorption, reduces inflammation, increases antioxidants, and boosts brain electrical activity in both cognitive performance as well as short-term memory.
What is absolutely certain is that we (the pool industry) didn’t cause a borates shortage. Clearly, demand is higher in these other industries which are causing prices to surge. Right now the boron supply chain is very weak. Over 60% of the material comes from mines located in Turkey which is the top producer, followed by Russia, South America and the United States.
For the time being, production is gradually declining. As existing boron reserves deplete, we’re seeing demand far exceed supplies, resulting in higher prices such as $1,250 per ton, far exceeding analysts’ predictions for $739 per ton.
While the demand in the U.S. by pool professionals may be high, the top consumer of boron is China, followed by India and Japan. Boron is produced domestically only in the State of California and it appears very little of it is earmarked towards maintaining supply chains for borates.
The story isn’t all doom and gloom for pool professionals who want to switch to borates. Fortunately, folks like Natural Chemistry, Brenntag, and others are still intent on keeping inventory on the shelves so you should still be able to find their products through distribution. If they don’t have borates available, demand that they replenish their stock. This may be the only way to guarantee the pool industry remains a priority at all.
Listen to our entire discussion on the Talking Pools podcast.
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