Pool Nation held its second annual awards show in Las Vegas, NV at the International Pool Spa Expo. “Our favorite thing about these award shows is it’s like a high school reunion, only with people you want to hang out with. To us, it’s a place where we celebrate each other’s accomplishments and successes; where we build each other up instead of tearing each other down,” said John Chakalis. The award show presented by the popular Pool Nation Podcast in collaboration with PoolPro recognizes achievement in a variety of different categories.
Award Winners by Category:
- Variable Speed Pump of the Year: Hayward TriStar VS
- Best Residential Pool Filter: AquaStar Pipeline Filter
- Automation of the Year: Jandy Aqualink RS
- Innovative Product of the Year: AquaStar Pipeline Filter
- Salt System of the Year: Hayward Aquarite
- Best Value Automation: Jandy iAquaLink IQ904
- Favorite Net: Pirhana Net
- Favorite Test Kit: Taylor K2005 Test Kit
- Best Truck Wrap: Big Family Pools
- Builder of the Year: Element Pool Company
- Sales Rep of the Year: Korey Wax – Alpha West Marketing Group
- Favorite Pool Vac System: Hammer Head Pool Vac
- Heater of the Year: Jandy JXI Heater
- Pool Guy of the Year: Chris Mele
- Pool Girl of the Year: Michelle Watson
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Wayne Ivusich
- Zac, John, & Edgar Award: Janey Flawless
- 30 Under 40 Male: Alexander Jacobs
- 30 Under 40 Female: Alisa Gotay
- Pool Company of the Year 250 Pools or less: Round Rock Pool Pros
- Pool Cleaner Suction Side: The Pool Cleaner, Hayward
- Heat Pump of the Year: Hayward Heat Pro
The Pool Nation award show has become quite popular among pool professionals and is supported by the pool & spa community. The awards are unique in that nominees are voted on by peers from within the pool industry. With a focus on inclusion, Pool Nation host Edgar De Jesus said, “It’s clear that we all want a better industry but in order to do that, we all belong in the same room and the key to success is collaboration.”
Having had close interaction with a number of the winners, I can certainly attest to the validity of the awards being given out. Korey Wax is a phenomenal sales rep. Wayne Ivusich certainly deserved a lifetime achievement award for his 30-plus years with Taylor Technologies. Element Pool Company is a young and thriving pool builder in the San Antonio market, that we’ve written about here at Pool Magazine. To see a young up-and-coming pool company recognized as Builder of the Year is absolutely refreshing. Round Rock Pool Pros is also a pool company that has fast become recognized as a service industry leader and again, great to see some of these terrific companies getting the recognition they richly deserve.
The 30 Under 40 category recognized two young professionals that will undoubtedly remain a force in the industry, Alexander Jacobs of United Aqua Group and Alisa Gotay of 787 Serrano Construction LLC. Again, these are folks who you may have already encountered in the pool industry that are rapidly making a name for themselves.
In all of the product categories, this year each of the winners delivered an exciting product that helped propel the industry forward. Many of the best pool product category winners had products we’ve highlighted right here in Pool Magazine. Congratulations to all of the winners who deserve all the credit in the world for having a tremendous year. We wish all of them continued success moving forward into 2023.
Pool & Hot Tub Alliance Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week
One year into its national apprenticeship program, the association shares successes
The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) is celebrating National Apprenticeship Week, November 14-20. National Apprenticeship Week showcases the value of Registered Apprenticeship programs and how they provide a critical talent pipeline to help our nation’s economy. During this week, PHTA is sharing updates on the PHTA Registered Pool Maintenance and Service Technician Apprenticeship Program™, which launched in August 2021.
The PHTA Apprenticeship Program is the only nationwide program registered with the U.S. Department of Labor for the pool, spa, and hot tub industry. It allows the pool profession to be more competitive with other industries that are also struggling for entry-level talent. This program is free for PHTA members and combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction and skills-based education.
Having a registered apprenticeship program means that pool maintenance and service is now considered a skilled trade, opening the doors with high school guidance counselors, veterans, and community workforce boards.
PHTA is pleased to announce that there are currently 23 companies across 15 states enrolled in the apprenticeship program, and nearly 30 apprentices have begun their on-the-job training. Apprentices receive 182 hours of online education through the PHTA online education portal.
The companies currently enrolled are:
- Anderson Poolworks, Wilsonville, OR
- Aquatic Dynamics Inc, Mt. Sinai, NY
- Atlantic Solutions, Chapel Hill, NC
- B&B Pool and Spa Center, Chestnut Ridge, NY
- Gold Medal Pools, Lewisville, TX
- Goodall Pools & Spas, Camp Hill, PA
- Gorlin Pools, Lakehurst, NJ
- Great Valley Pool Service, Frazer, PA
- Idaho Pool Remodeling, Meridian, ID
- Lehmann Pools and Spas, Mahwah, NJ
- Luke Pool Service, Inc, Cumming, GA
- NW Arkansas Pool & Spa, Rogers, AR
- Penguin Pools, Waukesha, WI
- Pool Doctor NM, LLC, Traverse City, MI
- Poolwerx – Forest Lane, Dallas, TX
- Preserve Pools, Summerville, SC
- Pure Swim, Van Nuys, CA
- Rin Robyn Pools, Hackettstown, NJ
- Strong Refuge Pools, Wilsonville, OR
- Swimming Pool Services, Waukesha, WI
- The Better Pool Guy and Home Solutions, Inc, Clemont, FL
- The Pool People, Inc, Eldersburg, MD
- Vue Custom Pools, Greensboro, NC
“We consistently hear from PHTA members that workforce development and employee recruitment and retention are top business concerns,” says Sabeena Hickman, CAE, President & CEO of PHTA. “The pool and hot tub industry has so many wonderful career opportunities. We’re focused on not only delivering that message, but actively developing these apprentices into skilled, qualified workers who will become valued industry professionals. We are proud to be able to offer the PHTA Registered Pool Maintenance and Service Technician Apprenticeship Program and hope that more members take advantage of this opportunity in the coming year.”
In addition, PHTA and its Apprenticeship Task Force are currently developing a second apprenticeship program for pool construction laborers. PHTA is looking forward to launching this new program in early 2023.
To learn more about the PHTA Apprenticeship Program, visit https://apprenticeship.phta.org/ or contact Seth Ewing, PHTA Senior Director of Member Programs and Services, at [email protected] or 703-838-0083, ext. 159.
About the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance
The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), a non-profit organization with over 3,600 members from around the world, was established in 1956 to support, promote, and protect the common interests of the $36.5B pool, hot tub, and spa industry. PHTA provides education, advocacy, standards development, research, and market growth to increase our members’ professionalism, knowledge, and profitability. Additionally, PHTA facilitates the expansion of swimming, water safety, and related research and outreach activities aimed at introducing more people to swimming, making swimming environments safer, and keeping pools open to serve communities. For more information, visit www.phta.org.
Pool Industry Standing Shoulder to Shoulder After Hurricanes
After two brutal back to back hurricanes, pool professionals in Florida continue to struggle while facing massive cleanup efforts. These past few weeks have tested the pool industry in Florida in ways like never before. Hurricane Ian caused a level of damage and devastation unseen in decades. Just as the industry was catching a breath, a second storm, Nicole made landfall and reminded us all that hurricane season isn’t quite over yet.
To find out how the pool industry in Florida is coping with the damage from the hurricanes during this timeframe, we recently spoke with Elizabeth McMurray, Executive Director of the FSPA, Nicki Pressley-Rice of WEK & Associates and Virge Jones from PoolCorp on the Pool Magazine podcast.
PM (Pool Magazine: “What are you seeing in terms of how pool contractors are recovering from hurricanes Ian and Nicole?”
EM (Elizabeth McMurray): “It’s definitely a complicated situation because people are personally affected but their businesses are additionally impacted. We’ve got some member businesses who have lost their operating structures and so they basically have lost their physical presence due to the hurricanes. Others are still able to work and have boots on the ground as far as servicing their customers or providing our distributors are able to provide materials and still have their storefronts open and their doors open to serve their customers. There are more people on the road, there are more contractors coming in from out of state. So there are a lot of other challenges that are going on just as far as the organizing of resources and actually physically getting around and being able to get to those pools that are potentially damaged or need to be serviced.”
NPR (Nicki Pressley-Rice): “There are so many people here. I’m on the road almost every single day in sales and it is extremely difficult to get around anywhere right now, regardless if you’re cleaning pools, building a pool, or subcontractor. To be honest with you, it is very challenging. Everybody down this way is dealing with the personal side of it too, which you do think about even when you’re working. You try to kind of balance it all out, but cleanup is going to take months, maybe years.”
“It’s emotional more than anything, but we are coming together. I really appreciate what FSPA has done. Shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, we help each other as a family in the pool industry. That makes me extremely proud.”
VJ (Virge Jones): “Most pool professionals are dealing with the situation as best they can. They’re not in panic mode and are taking care of things best they can, one pool at a time. Some are being proactive and taking advantage of opportunities to do more business; cleaning up cages and things like that. Some are just managing their pools and leaving that kind of clean up to more professional people.”
“A lot of people are asking for warranty. I’m telling them that right now, the way things are with some of the manufacturers, I’ve actually got to put the warranty on hold for a little bit. They are not going to cover the warranties knowing that some of those pool pumps have been submerged for a certain amount of time. They’re like, forget the warranty. I’m just going to put a new pump. So we’ve been selling a lot of pumps, not even motors, but mostly pumps. A lot of electronics being asked for, stuff like that, a lot of cartridges. We sold twice as many in eleven days in October that we normally do in a month.”
PM: “From the very beginning, FSPA was trying to inform folks about how serious these hurricanes were going to get and how to prepare for them. What are some of the challenges in getting that kind of information out to the general public before an event such as this happens?“
EM: “Everyone is dealing with the personal impacts and their own personal preparation, but then you’ve also got the business preparation as well. People are trying to prepare their personal homes and their families and figure out, are they staying? Are they going? Those are the same people that need to help their customers during the hurricanes, so they’re trying to take care of their families and their customers at the same time.”
“Consumers are sometimes misinformed or need better information. The FSPA is working really diligently with our members to ensure that consumers get the right information. We want to be that resource for what to do to prepare your pool if bad weather is coming; ensuring that they follow the right procedures to prepare their pools in those types of scenarios.”
PM: “Virge, let me ask you a question. We saw that storm that hit Texas a couple of years back. Do you think the extent of damage that occurred in Florida is possibly going to take a lot of that equipment out of circulation?”
VJ: “Definitely going to. My branch has been suffering because unfortunately of the way we are being replenished, but that’s an internal issue, so we’ve been struggling down here. With that said, I think we’re in much better shape than we were two years ago. I think the manufacturers are finally getting back on track, compared to what it was.”
PM: “So just to clarify things, we’re not going to see the same kind of glut that we saw in the demand for equipment we saw in the ice storm that happened two years ago?”
VJ: “I don’t think so. I think manufacturers are a little more proactive right now. They’re preparing for the early buyers and all that for next year.”
PM: “No need to go out and start panic buying, right?”
VJ: “Yes, that’s correct.”
PM: “Elizabeth, what we saw during the hurricane was a lot of folks throwing furniture in their pool. In one unfortunate incident, an elderly man died while trying to drain his pool during the height of the storm. I mean, how do we keep pool owners from following that bad information that’s out there that can damage their pool and potentially even cost lives?”
EM: “That’s a great question. I mean, I really believe that the FSPA is here to service our members as well as the consumers at large. We did a huge digital media push prior to the storm arriving in regards to what to do with your pool from a consumer perspective. We also have resource pages on our website for both industry professionals and for consumers. We definitely want to be that resource and help educate pool owners about what you should do and not to drain your pool. A lot of consumers aren’t aware what pool popping is and what happens when you remove the weight of the water out of your pool. We want to help ensure that consumers are educated. We hope that our partners, like yourselves, will assist us in that by pointing consumers to our pages, to our resources, to ensure that they do the right things and follow the right processes when there’s bad weather coming their way.”
PM: “A lot of pools damaged during the hurricanes, and lots of folks are still trying to get back on their feet. How is the FSPA helping to coordinate efforts to help members in this time of need?”
EM: “We have a lot of different initiatives going on. Consumers and industry professionals can find those resources on our website, Floridapoolpro.com. We have tips dedicated to hurricane recovery for both pool professionals as well as pool owners on what to do with their pools now that the storm has come and passed. Additionally, we are trying to coordinate donation efforts towards our industry members that were impacted. Basically, if you are able to donate labor, time, supplies, any type of inventory or materials that might help a fellow industry member, there is a form that you can complete on our website. And then if you’re one of those members who need those supplies, who needs labor, who needs someone to come and help them with clean up after the hurricanes, you can also let us know that you are in need and we will help connect you to those who are donating.”
“Finally, the other big thing, we have is a list of different personal and business resources such as the US Small Business Administration has a disaster loan. There are different disaster contractor networks that they can get engaged with. We have resources on how to file commercial insurance claims. Above and beyond that, we’ve engaged our Florida Swims Foundation and are fundraising for grant money that goes directly to our members. Member businesses can apply for recovery grants. The purpose of the grant is for them to utilize the funds that they receive in the form of a forgivable grant. This is to pay for their business insurance deductibles, to make payroll. It’s for employees who can’t currently work due to impacts of the storm. It’s also to help pay for physical losses to their building or to their inventory that perhaps is not covered by insurance. Things of that nature. So we’re kind of trying to be holistic in our approach and help people to help themselves while continuing to be that resource for both the consumers and the professionals in the industry.”
Listen to our entire conversation on the Pool Magazine podcast.
Hurricane Nicole Unleashes a Second Round of Devastation on Florida
November hurricanes are rare so to say that Hurricane Nicole was unexpected would be an understatement. While most Florida residents were still recuperating from the damage caused by Hurricane Ian, Mother Nature let us know that hurricane season isn’t quite over yet. Hurricane Nicole was quickly downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall in Florida yesterday, but not before killing two people from a downed powerline and causing a fresh round of destruction
More than 335,000 homes and businesses in Florida were without power as of early Thursday morning. Governor De Santis extended a state of emergency to all 67 counties with recommended and voluntary evacuation orders for Brevard, Clay, Seminole, St. John’s, Putnam and Franklin counties and mandatory evacuation orders for Flagler and Volusia counties. Along the west coast of Florida and from Sebastian Inlet to the South Santee River in South Carolina, a tropical storm warning has been issued.
“Given the uncertainty of the storm’s strength and path as it approaches South Carolina, residents need to have their personal emergency plans ready to go just in case we need to take safety precautions later in the week,” advised Kim Stenson, director of the state emergency management division.
Patio of Pirates Cove buckling in Daytona Beach Shores, FL where #Nicole is causing structures to collapse into the ocean that were already battered and bruised by #HurricaneIan. Live w/ @JimCantore and @TheMattSaffer on @weatherchannel pic.twitter.com/3qttL44xim— Steve Petyerak (@StevePetyerak) November 10, 2022
Through Saturday, parts of eastern, central, and northern Florida could receive up to 8 inches of rain. Also, the hurricane center predicts rainfall totals of 2–6 inches from the southeastern United States through the southern and central Appalachians and western mid-Atlantic.
The one-two punch of Hurricane Nicole coming directly on the heels of Ian was unexpected. Nicole was the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States during November in almost 40 years. Florida is no stranger to hurricanes, but only two hurricanes, the 1935 Yankee Hurricane and the 1985 Hurricane Kate, made landfall in November since official record-keeping began.
Hurricane Nicole Causing Tremendous Damage For Pool Owners
While certainly not as destructive in terms of loss of life and property damage as Ian was, a quick glance around social media this morning shows every indication that Nicole did her fair share of damage during the storm. One homeowner posted footage of her swimming pool popping out from the ground during the coastal surge.
Video Footage: @eastcoastdiy
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