The Covid-19 pandemic brought about many challenges, especially in the economic sector. Businesses closed, and people lost jobs and their loved ones. However, the pool industry came out unscathed. Since most people worked from home, they looked for ways to revamp their backyards. As a result, there was a surge in demand for pool services from homebound homeowners. Although this was a good thing, increased demand was met by a shortage of supply and labor.
Everyone is home!
A member of Algae Busters Pool Service, Dick Abare, states, “Fortunately, a good percentage of our clientele wanted to renovate their yards amid the pandemic. This was the reason for the high demand for our pool services. Subsequently, we’ve been dealing with pool equipment installation and updating old pool systems.”
Unlike before, customers are now home 24/7 during projects. Gone are the days when pool contractors had the privilege of working alone on site. Clients are no longer going to work. So, they have enough time to monitor the project during their free time. Shannon Sellers of Jeff’s Pool and Spa can relate to this. He says, “There was this customer who had never bothered interacting with our pool service technicians before the pandemic. After the covid-19 restrictions, he kept monitoring the project closely. Unfortunately, he kept finding fault in everything our technicians did. In fact, there was one time he dropped a penny intentionally to see whether our contractors would take it.” Now, customers are monitoring every step of the project. And this does not have to be a bad thing. Consider using this as a source of inspiration.
Is the increase in prices caused by high demand?
Typically, increased demand usually leads to an increase in market prices. But this is not always the case. In 2020, shipping became twice as challenging due to travel restrictions. Moreover, communication with vendors was a huge challenge. All this led to increased prices. Even so, some companies like Aquatic Pool systems chose to retain their prices.
“Market prices keep fluctuating depending on the condition of the pool industry. But we decided to retain our prices, and we are still doing okay. But we plan to review our prices soon. The price of everything is going up; so, it would only be fair to raise our prices.”owner of Aquatic Pool Systems, Rich Tarricone
What causes the supply shortage?
Unquestionably, the global pandemic is to blame for the shortage in supply. Currently, finding the latest pool products is challenging. In fact, Tarricone reports that he lost a customer because he couldn’t offer a specific product. Manufacturers are trying to keep up with the increased demand, but at the same time, they want to avoid stockpiling in the coming year. Customers think that we are lying when we say we don’t have a product.
How can pool experts deal with the supply shortage?
Some pool companies, like Tri-City Pools, choose to limit the products they supply at a time. This helps them prevent waste and supply what is needed.
A rise in theft cases
The majority of pool owners need pool equipment replacement services. However, it is impossible to offer what is not available. Unfortunately, some people end up stealing pool equipment. A customer whose pool heater, pump, and other equipment were stolen before she moved into her new house. Her pool service technicians had to find a solution to this problem. But after a few days, the equipment got stolen for a second time. Since people can’t find pool equipment easily, they resort to stealing.
The pool industry needs more workers
Most pool companies are experiencing a shortage of labor. Nowadays, finding a qualified pool service technician is not a walk in the park. So, it is challenging to keep up with the surge in demand. Not to mention, it is hard to find someone willing to stick with you through thick and thin. Abare says that teamwork is essential. His company deals with large and complex projects as a team.
Consequently, they are able to be more productive. And they recognize that we all need each other. He says, “You never know that you need people until work gets overwhelming.”
Pool services: Training and educating future pool technicians
The shortage of labor has led to training and education programs. The Florida Swimming Pool Association is now training aspiring pool service technicians. They offer a broad spectrum of courses that help in generating more labor in the industry. They provide virtual classes. Anyone who wishes to improvise their skills can register for the course. This kind of training will expand the pool industry in the long run. With this increase in demand, it would be beneficial to bring in more pool service technicians.
Pool companies should devise a solid strategy for dealing with the surge in demand for pool services. Although hiring more employees is expensive, it could pay off in the long run.
Chlorine Shortage Has Public Pools Feeling The Pinch
It’s been over a year since many public pools across the nation were forced to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now some are being forced to close all over again due to ongoing chlorine shortages.
Those that have managed to stay in operation are watching the soaring cost of chlorine prices closely, which has nearly doubled in many areas of the country and is expected to continue to increase through the summer.
Public Pools Losing Money On Chlorine
When it comes to public swimming pools, most facilities usually charge a fee for entry. Many community pools are considered a public service, consequently they often wind up spending more on pool maintenance than they actually get from the guest fees. The fact is that the rising costs of chlorine are a growing cause for concern for the nations public pools and aquatic centers.
The chlorine tablet shortage began last August, when Hurricane Laura triggered a fire at the BioLab chemical plant that produces the majority of the country’s dry chlorine tablets. The rise in demand for backyard pools as a result of the epidemic has aggravated the problem by increasing costs on limited supplies.
Chlorine Prices This Year Versus Last Year
“We used to pay $75 for a 50-pound bucket of chlorine tablets,” Steven Fox of Fox Pools in Virginia informed us. “The prices have gone crazy this year. You’re looking at $150 now for the same thing, if distribution even has stock. It’s getting crazy now with acid, DE, grids, you name it… prices have gone up across the board.”
Openings in many cities were postponed partly because chemical cleaning supplies took months to arrive. One neighborhood pool in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was cleared to open after the municipal council voted to spend up to an additional $60,000 on chlorine for the rest of this season and the pool season in 2022 (about $12,000 per month).
Public Pools Closing Early This Season
More and more financially strapped communities around the country have decided to close their pools early or close parts of their pools for the season. With many facilities stating they simply can’t afford the chlorine.
The majority of city-run pools in Los Angeles have had to close less than a month after being allowed to reopen by the Department of Public Health, which disproportionately affects minority children who don’t have other access to swimming lessons.
“This chlorine issue is just exacerbating what is already an existing disparity,” Jeff Wiltse, author of “Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America, told the LA Times. “There’s been a significant growth in private swimming pools [in recent decades], whereas public swimming pools have been generally stagnant, and in many cities there’s been a significant decline.”
Olympics in Tokyo a Complete Bust
The Summer Olympics was postponed until this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For marketing and branding purposes, they are still calling it Tokyo 2020 which is weird, but okay marketing is expensive and to be honest, most of us are just fine with pretending last year never even happened.
This does nothing to address the elephant in the room which is, no one is allowed to attend these Olympic venues and a huge percentage of viewers forgot they were even happening this year. By no means should this diminish the incredible effort the United States swim team is putting on. Already they have won 8 medals and are expected to dominate most of this years 18 different swim events on the program.
There is a stunning new aquatics arena in Tokyo Bay that was built specifically for the Olympics. It’s a brand new facility, that in the normal course of events should have been packed to the rafters with 15,000 fans during a typical Olympic year. Unfortunately, there is nothing normal about this Olympics and spectators are not allowed. The facility which was part of the tremendous $15.4 billion dollar investment Tokyo made in order to win the bid for hosting the Olympics, sits nearly empty for all of this summers Olympic events. In actuality, the final figure for this entire folly will probably be closer to $20 billion making this the most expensive Olympics ever.
A muted opening ceremony was televised to a dramatically reduced audience. With the stadium nearly empty, the momentus energy of the crowd was visibly missing. Most athletes wore face coverings and waved enthusiastically to tens of thousands of empty seats which further cemented the surreal oddity of all. Some athletes practiced social distancing, choosing to march alone, while others grouped together much to the dismay of event organizers. Despite the fact that its delegation has undergone several positive COVID tests since arriving, the Czech Republic joined the other countries in the opening ceremonies.
The opening event for the Olympics drew nearly 17 million viewers in the U.S. which may sound like a lot, but in actuality hit a 33 year low and was down nearly 36% since 2016’s Olympics. The reality is this Olympics has been a complete bust for Japan and the city of Tokyo in particular. The $500,000,000 dollar aquatics center is depressingly empty, and symbolic of the complete disinterest that has many diseffectionately refering to this Olympics as the Pandemic Games. To add insult to injury, the gleaming new insanely expensive facility probably didn’t even need to be built in the first place.
Experts who know the city of Tokyo well say that all of the swim events could have been hosted at the 45,000 seat Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants. Near by Yokohama stadium also seats 17,000 and could have easily hosted the events. The expenditure has been criticized as a needless waste of money. It is difficult to imagine a future for the facility, in fact it is scheduled to be downsized to accommodate 5,000 shortly after the Olympics are over.
The impression of being in a sterile, locked-down quarantine permeates this Olympics according to athletes and participants. There is no amount of simulated cheering and fake cardboard cutout fans that can assuade that feeling. Fans, who would ordinarily be screaming support for their countries and socializing with folks from all over the world in a carnival like atmosphere, have been barred, leaving just a highly vetted group of media, authorities, athletes, and staff.
There is an inescapable feeling of pity for the Japanese people, who will pay a colossal financial price for their government’s overzealous spending and a global pandemic which they had no way to predict would happen.
Feature Photo Credit: ABS / CBN
Too Big To Fail – Olympus Pools Implodes
We first began writing about Olympus Pools back in April of this year after investigative reports broke news that the Land O’ Lakes pool builder was in deep trouble. Allegations of unfinished pools, unpaid subcontractors and distributors and a long list of angry customers put Olympus in the spotlight and for all the wrong reasons.
In the past few months we have had numerous interactions with owner James Staten, James Judge (a PR representative Staten hired to represent Olympus a few months ago), and Jordan Hidalgo, a well known pool builder who had supposedly partnered with Olympus Pools to salvage the ongoing projects they had, as well as the firms battered reputation.
In late May, Olympus Pools had released a press release stating that Jordan Hidalgo, a well respected figure in the pool and spa industry would be taking on co-ownership of Olympus Pools.
However, this week after rumors began circulating about impending foreclosures on homeowners as well as another major blow due to unpaid workers compensation insurance causing a work shut down, Hidalgo released this statement to the media.
“During our due diligence period, it became apparent that the company was not in the same position as it appeared originally,” Hidalgo said a statement on Tuesday. “As a result, I have decided to cut my losses and am walking away from the opportunity. I am hoping the best for Olympus Pools and their customers.”
We reached out to Staten’s PR representative James Judge to get a comment to which he replied “We actually no longer represent Olympus Pools”. His leaving directly coincided with Hidalgo’s announcement.
James Staten responded to Hidalgo’s departure to investigative journalist Shannon Behnken in an email contradicting Hidalgo’s version of the story. Staten stated that Hidalgo was “never able to ‘buy’ even a portion of Olympus,” and said that, “there has been no ‘due diligence period’ and Mr. Hidalgo has failed to perform even his most basic obligations.”
We touched base with Hidalgo this week to get his side of the story to which he replied, “That is an absolute lie. I tried to be classy about this entire thing but I can see he (Staten) is not going to let that happen. There is more information coming out in the media, just wait.” To which Hidalgo eluded that this week there would be a major announcement coming.
Olympus Pools is Out of Business
This morning Olympus Pools officially announced that they will be shutting down operations after the Department of Business and Professional Regulation asked them to surrender their license. This effectively means that Olympus Pools will be unable to continue working on any current projects they have contracted for.
“Over the last several months at Olympus Pools, we have endured constant negative media coverage encouraging viewers to file complaints with Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation. As a result, the DBPR has forced us to voluntarily relinquish our license. This means we are no longer allowed to continue working for any of our customers. We have fought hard and would have continued to do so for as long it took to complete every project.”
“Although we are greatly disappointed in the decision, we understand the pressure that has been placed on the Department to act. We do not feel the decision is beneficial to our community or our customers, however, it was not our decision to make. If it were up to us, we would continue working for our customers.”
“We have enjoyed servicing the Tampa Bay area for close to 10 years. We are proud of the thousands of projects we have built and the work we have done for our community in that time. We are grateful for all of the support the vast majority of our former customers, employees, friends, family, and neighbors have shown us during this time.”
Sources close to the organization disclosed to Pool Magazine that Olympus Pools currently has hundreds of ongoing pool construction projects and anywhere from 50-100 open holes in the ground.
It is expected that a variety of agencies will now descend to perform a collection of assets however, the south showroom for Olympus Pools has been completely emptied out according to a source close to Pool Magazine. How this bodes for the unlucky homeowners who entrusted Olympus Pools with their swimming pool projects remains to be seen, however already many have begun to receive lien and foreclosure notices on their homes.
Featured Photo Credits: WFLA
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