When talking about higher quality products and materials used for pool decking, Belgard is a name frequently dropped into the conversation. Belgard is widely recognized as the industry leaders in Pavers.
The manufacturer has been long regarded in the pool industry for their high quality products. You will see Belgard pavers surrounding the finest swimming pools in the country.
Belgard Pavers – A Popular Choice For Pool Decks
Patios and decks are intrinsically tied to inground swimming pools. Consequently, when contractors are planning a project – Belgard products often come into play. Their wide array of paver products are often used in the application of the pool deck area and retaining walls. With one of the largest and well supported product lines, they have become one of the most popular hardscaping choices with both professionals and retail consumers. Belgard’s professional products are available at more than 2,000 dealers throughout North America.
Swimming pool decking can be quite elaborate. Homeowners look for options that will enhance and beautify their backyard as well as provide a cohesive and flowing dynamic to the pool area. Belgard’s wide selection of high quality products, customer & retail focused initiatives and innovative technology have been what has helped differentiate them from competitors.
Their line of Standard, Porcelain, and Permeable pavers provide incredibly flexible installation options for angular, curved, entangled, floating, modular, raised, and sunken paver applications.
We had the opportunity to speak with Joe Raboine – Director of Belgard Residential Hardscapes recently. Prior to joining Belgard, Joe had over 15 years experience as a contractor. Raboine is a highly acclaimed expert in the field of hardscapes and outdoor living design.
Belgard’s line of paver products are widely used in the application of pool decks. Raboine brings a contractors perspective to the conversation when discussing the benefits of pavers over stamped concrete. We asked him to help explain the benefits to home owners who are considering pavers vs concrete as an option.
Benefits of Pavers Over Other Deck Options
Pavers are a tremendously popular decking option for consumers. There are literally thousands of different designs and materials to choose from. However, pricing for pavers vs concrete is often on par or slightly higher. Joe Raboine is responsible for many of Belgard’s initiatives. As a leading innovator in hardscapes, Raboine offers some insight as to why consumers might choose pavers over other decking applications such as stamped concrete. “Often, consumers opt for pavers because of the cost savings in potential maintenance” said Raboine.
“When performing pool repairs, builders often opt for pavers because they are much easier to remove and reinstall. Accessibility is important to contractors. Conversely, pool repairs with a concrete deck will often involve a jackhammer and costly repairs thereafter.”JOE RABOINE – DIRECtor OF BELgArD RESIDENTIAL HARDSCAPES
“Consumers also appreciate paver sealants which help make surfaces less slippery and tend to provide better contact surface grip.” Raboine explained. “They are also incredibly durable and have a much higher PSI strength in comparison to concrete decks which tend to chip and crack”.
Belgard Sets The Curve
You’ll find Belgard’s wide selection of products in most retail home improvement stores around America. Raboine explained how their continuous approach towards innovation is what has led Belgard towards establishing itself as a leader in hardscapes today. “We have released several exciting new products and design tools that will definitely help the pool industry. These include Belgard Design Studio, Rooms, and Artforms™.”
The recent release of Belgard Design Studio enables Belgard Authorized Contractors to provide customer access to 3D Virtual Walkthroughs of their paver products. With just a few site photos and a conceptual sketch of the outdoor living design, Belgard Design Studio can convert those ideas into a set of beautiful 3D designs. Their Authorized Contractor program allows for unlimited 3D renderings. This may prove especially useful to pool designers who often incorporate 3D designs in their sales presentations. It’s also incredibly beneficial for homeowners who want to visualize paver options and pool deck designs.
With the release of Belgard Rooms, consumers now have a linear path to plan their outdoor living project. The new online tool provides an innovative and interactive process that guides homeowners through the initial stages of design. This includes product selection and outdoor room layout. Already the program has been helping retailers leverage automation to cut down on time spent during the design phase. Raboine has been closely involved with these projects, both of which have enormous applications for backyard remodeling and pool deck design.
Belgard’s newest product Artforms™ is the hardscape industry’s first fully finished modular concrete panel system for outdoor living. The new system has applications for benches, barbecues, counters, fireplaces, planters, and privacy walls. This innovative new product allows the pre-formed concrete panels to be easily configured and affixed. Artforms™ provides simple, adjustable stainless steel hardware, allowing for multiple, personalized configurations.
How Belgard is Keeping Up With Demand
Belgard has had a deep association with the swimming pool industry for years. This past year saw unprecedented increase in sales for inground swimming pools. Many attributed the spike in demand to Covid-19, which consequently led to homeowners renewing an interest in improving their backyards.
Analysts predict the 2021 Spring and Summer season will be a repeat of last year. There is still alot of pent up demand from homeowners that were unable to build last year. Already costs have been increasing across the board on labor and materials. Major manufacturers and distributors have announced price increases already, citing supply chain issues as the number one source.
We asked Raboine how Belgard has dealt with keeping up with demand and how they are shifting operations to deal with the pandemic.
“We’ve added new facilities and have been working 24/7/365 trying to stay ahead of demand.”Joe Raboine – Director of belgard residential hardscapes
“We’re actively working with all of our dealers and distributors trying to forecast and predict order flow. This allows us to better plan. It also allows us to make sure that we have inventory available to better service our customers.” Raboine explained. The Residential Hardscapes division volume expects a spike. Consequently, they advise installers and retailers to get their orders in as quickly as possible. Ordering early will help them accommodate anticipated heavy order volume this season.
Featured Photo Credit: Alan Smith Pools – Gemstone Silver Pearl Radiant Fusion Finish with Belgard Lafit Grana Victorian pavers and Hancrete Cobblestone Light Sandblast – All other photos provided courtesy of Belgard.
Latham is Going Public
Latham announced its intentions to go public. Will begin trading under “SWIM” stock symbol…
A new pool corporation will be listed on the stock exchange very soon and it’s a name we all know well. Latham – The Pool Company™, filed a notice with the Securities and Exchange Commission announcing its intention to sell its common stock in an initial public offering.
Under the ticker symbol SWIM, the Latham Group has applied to list its stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. Complete details about the offering and it’s terms are not yet known at this time.
The news of Latham’s intention to go public comes a month after Hayward, one of the “Big 3” manufacturers, made a similar announcement.
Latham, The Pool Company™, as it is now known was formerly known as Latham Pool Products.
Latham’s private equity partners, Pamplona Capital Management and Wynnchurch Capital, will hold more than 50% of the voting power of the company’s outstanding common stock, rendering the Latham Group a controlled company excluded from some corporate governance provisions.
Latham outlined a strategy to increase the overall market share of fiberglass among inground pools, change how customers access the company’s products, improve distribution capabilities across the United States, and expand internationally while discussing the company’s strengths and benefits.
Latham Moves Into Lead Generation
With a new emphasis on direct digital and social-media marketing, backed by a demand-aggregation platform, Latham has made serious inroads to market directly to consumers. Consequently, this has enabled them to feed more pool leads to their dealer base. According to Latham, the company delivered over 45,000 customer leads to its dealer base in 2020, the first year the plan was fully implemented. According to the group, this represents a 210% increase from 2019.
The company also referenced it’s size, claiming that its network of nine fiberglass pool factories and distribution centers allows it to supply fiberglass pools to 95 percent of the US population within just 48 hours.
Latham has increased its market share in the fiberglass pool industry over time by purchasing a number of existing manufacturers. Three recent transactions were mentioned in their IPO application. Latham believes this will help it position itself well in the future.
Recent Latham Acquisitions
The acquisition of Narellan, an Australian fiberglass pool manufacturer with operations in Canada and New Zealand, in 2019 bolstered the company’s foreign presence. According to Latham, foreign markets account for 19% of its revenue, with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand having the most representation. According to Latham, the company is still on the lookout for emerging markets.
At the very least, the Narellan acquisition is expected to help Latham extend its footprint in North America by increasing fiberglass penetration. Narellan, as Australia’s largest manufacturer of fiberglass pools, played a key role in the increased acceptance of fiberglass over the last two decades in Australia, where the segment now accounts for 70% of the pool industry, according to Latham.
“Leveraging insights gained from Narellan, we are investing to build the tools required to drive higher fiberglass penetration in the North American market,” Latham said.
It also mentioned that the acquisition of vinyl-liner and safety-cover manufacturer GLI in October 2020 has expanded its offerings in those categories.
In October, the company entered into a long-term strategic relationship with Premier Pools & Spas, acquiring a 28 percent equity stake in the pool-construction franchise. The company said, “The purpose of this investment in Premier Pools & Spas is to help expand our sales and distribution channels,”
In the future, it intends to form more strategic alliances with dealerships. “We believe these exclusive relationships will continue to enable us to increase market share at the expense of the fragmented and regional universe of competitors,” Latham said.
In North America, Australia, and New Zealand, Latham claims to be the largest builder, manufacturer, and marketer of in-ground residential swimming pools. It claims to have 32 locations, hiring over 2,000 people, and selling more than 8,700 fiberglass pools in the United States in 2020.
Although “net income does not adhere to this trend.” said Latham, 2020 represented the 11th consecutive year of net sales growth and adjusted EBITDA margin expansion. According to the group, net revenues were $403.4 million in 2020 and net income was $16.0 million.
Last year, vinyl liners accounted for 20% of Latham’s sales, covers for 21%, and fiberglass and vinyl-lined pools for the remaining 80%. The remaining 59%, according to the company, came from fiberglass units.
Featured Photo Credit: Albany Business Review
Leisure Pools new Industrial Development will create 100 Jobs
Rapidly expanding Leisure Pools new development is predicted to create 100 new jobs. Last month it purchased an 83,000 square foot facility.
Leisure Pools is one of the world’s largest composite fiberglass swimming pool, spa and tanning ledge manufacturers.
Last month, it purchased an 83,000-square-foot center in the Picayune Industrial Park that has been vacant for about 10 years.
The project is a $3.25 million corporate investment and will create 100 jobs with an average salary of about $43,000.
The company will begin improvements to the building this month, set up the distribution center and hopefully begin manufacturing by the end of the year.
Job applications are being taken now, but hiring has not yet begun.
Locals are excited to see Leisure Pools come to town
Blaine LaFontaine is seeing his yearlong vision come to pass right before his eyes.
“Leisure Pools, with this investment, aligns with our long-term vision and goal to bring these certain employers that carry 50 to 150 jobs,” said LaFontaine, the Pearl River County economic director. “And we’re happy to say that the result of that work, that effort, that they selected Picayune Industrial Park to be their regional distribution and manufacturing center.”
“For us to try to bring high-wage, good-paying jobs to this community is transformational for some families,” LaFontaine added.
Terry Farr, executive director of the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce, said good industrial development means good commercial development.
“If we have new jobs, more income, then we’re going to have more people to shop here locally,” he said. “And that’s what we’re all about, is shopping locally.”
The Leisure Pools development is exactly the kind of industry that Pearl River County officials are looking for. In fact, after this development opens, there will be only one industrial-based building in the park that’s not occupied.
Photo Credit: Leisure Pools USA
Is Pool Fence DIY All It’s Cracked Up To Be?
We take a look at Pool Fence DIY, one of the most popular fencing products for DIY pool owners. Is Pool Fence DIY a good product?
Pool Fence DIY has fast become one of the most popular fencing products for Do-It-Yourself pool owners. The product touts itself as a super easy installation for homeowners looking for a relatively simple pool fence. With slick advertising commercials featuring an Amish family of homeowners with a swimming pool (you have to suspend disbelief a bit), the marketing is very entertaining to say the least. It takes a whimsical approach at branding while not projecting the tragedies of drowning that come from failing to properly secure the pool area.
With a positive score of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon and very few consumer complaints, the consensus from pool owners is that Pool Fence DIY is actually a pretty decent product. It’s enormously popular and is regularly sold on Wayfair, Home Depot, Walmart, and Overstock. Pool owners looking to construct a pool fence on a budget have few high quality options to choose from. The one chief complaint that consumers seem to have is that it feels flimsy. Given that the product is constructed of a woven nylon mesh and a few steel bars, that’s not suprising. It’s meant to be able to be disassembled and quickly installed. The company itself provides a series of instructional videos to make the fence a more fixed structure.
As far as more traditional pool fences are concerned Pool Fence DIY is not an intraversable security fence. The product itself is meant to present a barrier, particularly to smaller children who may accidentally wander into the pool area. As a means of deterring family pets and animals from wandering into the pool, it probably performs just as admirably.
To be clear, this product is meant for homeowners operating on a budget. This fence system is ideal if you need to secure your pool area, but aren’t necessarily looking to shell out thousands of dollars on a permanent pool fence. The system starts at around $100 for each 4×12 section of the kit. For your entire total cost, you’d first need to calculate your pool area.
For more higher end pool fencing systems, you can typically expect to pay anywhere from $5,000-$10,000. As budget friendly options, this is a good alternative for homeowners looking to stay in compliance with local pool fence rules and regulations.
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