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Exit Interview With Fluidra President – Troy Franzen

Troy Franzen chats one-on-one with Pool Magazine about his tenure as President of Fluidra North America



Exit Interview With Fluidra President - Troy Franzen

Fluidra announced that Troy Franzen would be retiring and that Lennie Rhoades would be stepping up as the new president of Fluidra North America. We had the opportunity to catch up with Troy to conduct an informal exit interview on the Pool Magazine podcast.

(Pool Magazine) PM: So are congratulations in order Troy, are you officially retired right now?

(Troy Franzen) TF: I am officially retired right now as we speak. This is my first week at home where I’m not looking at my phone every five minutes. It’s a different feeling, but yes, it’s kind of official as we speak.

PM: That’s terrific. 12 years with the company was a real achievement. You’ve had a great run and some big milestones with Fluidra. You were with them a long time, can you talk to us a bit about your experience with them? 

TF: It was fantastic. I look back and twelve and a half years seem like it’s flown by. The last three years, as we know, kind of put time into a different kind of context.

PM: What changed in your life while you were president of Fluidra?

TF: What changed in my life? Oh, boy. Well, when I started with this company, I had three young children. Now, twelve and a half years later, I have three adult children that are almost all through school or working in post-grad school and so that’s made me proud. That’s been a big change in my life. I’ve learned a ton about certainly the industry, our company, and the pool business. It’s been a pleasure along the way.

Franzen played an important role in the transition from Zodiac to Fluidra
Franzen played an important role in the transition from Zodiac to Fluidra

PM: We know you played a significant role in the transition from Zodiac to Fluidra. I mean, you were there at the very start. Can you talk to us a bit about that and some of the other acquisitions, mergers, and changes that you saw happen during your time with the company?

TF: In 2010, I would say that we were then owned by Carlyle Private Equity. We were under the label of the company name Zodiac Pool Systems. If you go back and think about what occurred leading up to that time period with the housing market and of course the great recession that took place, it was a dramatic time frame not only for the industry but for our company.

The company changed dramatically as the economy kind of took a turn for the worse. A lot of under-investment or no investment or stripping of costs was taking place when I came on board. I would say the company was a little bit rudderless and lacking in direction. It needed some investment in key areas like customer service and quality and sales. It was a difficult time, but on one hand, it was nice to come in when things were at the bottom. There was only one way to go with that.

Bruce Brooks, our current CEO, and I were of like mind having worked together in the past. We set our sights on building a great company and not thinking about the short term and not thinking about flipping the company. We started thinking about building out a brand. Building out a quality infrastructure. Putting together a sales and customer service strategy that was focused on the customer. Y’know? Really saying ‘Hey, what do we want this company to be today?’ That was twelve and a half years ago, and the results speak for themselves.

PM: You’ve had a few big milestones over the last couple of years. Taylor Technologies, SR, Smith, CMP. There are some big acquisitions there.

TF: If you can go back before that, we weren’t doing a ton of acquisition work early on because we were still building out the foundation and fundamentals. We bought a company called Savi Lights years ago. Nicheless LED technology had some early quality challenges, but that acquisition kind of put us into the lighting category. We went on to buy a small company called Grand Effects, which kind of got us into that high-end decorative fire and water feature space.

When the pandemic kicked in was when a lot of companies kind of went into hiding or thought things were going to turn really bad. Not only did the market start to turn for the good, but Fluidra doubled down. The board gave us a lot of support not only financially, but gave us the leeway to go get aggressive.

We started with CMP custom molded products out of Atlanta, which kind of got us into a different vertical of spa OEM products, which we’re excited about. We also expanded our offering with alternative sanitizers, white goods, and some other products that fit in nicely with our Jandy and Polaris bundle. Then we moved on and bought eventually bought S.R. Smith up in Oregon. That got us into a lot of the deck equipment like slides, rails, diving boards, and then also allowed us a nice baseline of business to expand the commercial portfolio. Wrapping up with Taylor Water Technologies out of Maryland. It’s been a nice little bolt onto the family.

PM: These are some tremendous milestones. Troy, now that we’re getting to the point in our conversation where we’ve got to ask you, what made you decide to take this moment to retire?

TF: Oh, boy, I don’t know that there was one AHA moment. I always said I wanted to retire early, and I was naive enough to say when I was 21 that I’m going to retire when I’m 50. In fact, I missed my goal. I’m a little bit late but I always wanted to take time to do the things that I want to do; while I could do them, on my own schedule. I love sports, so to use a sports analogy, I didn’t want to go out on a low. I didn’t want to get carried out off the field on a stretcher and I wanted to make it my decision.

Fluidra had this incredible run of success. I would lie if I didn’t say the last couple of years have been incredibly rewarding, but they also have been challenging and especially when you throw the acquisition work on top of just the day-to-day heavy lifting that took place to service our customers.

It was time to take a break. I think late last year Bruce and I started talking about succession planning. As a public company, one of our jobs is to be stewards for the future, not just for now. How do you have a successful transition of power? So I said I’m ready to take a break, let’s start thinking about a handoff. That’s kind of when this started, almost about ten months ago. I know it kind of just was recently announced, but in fact, in my mind, the plan has been going on for some time now.

PM: Lennie Rhodes is going to be moving into your role. His previous role was CEO for Big Ass Fans. I saw he was VP at Husqvarna and before that Director of Marketing for Electrolux. This kind of unexpected move of bringing in a company outsider to the role, what was the strategy behind that decision to look outside the organization?

TF: Well, some people may call that an unexpected move or unconventional move, but I actually came from outside the industry when I came on. He’s got an incredible background. I think if you look at the companies he’s worked for, he’s worked in very similar kinds of channels and industries that we’re dealing with. Working through distribution is in his background. So I think Bruce thought that that was an important aspect. We wanted someone that would bring a new perspective, and diversity of ideas if you will. I think that’s why we landed on Lennie. I’m pretty excited. I spent a lot of time with him and in fact, I think the company is going to be in fantastic hands.

PM: Usually when there’s a change at the top, there’s a lot more change coming. What does the change in leadership look like for the rest of the executive organization as well as the rank and file of Fluidra North America?

TF: People have asked what I’m proud of leaving behind. I think that’s the leadership team we have in place at Fluidra. Twelve years ago we were always kind of the green, inexperienced, kind of rudderless management team. We have turned the corner and I would say over the last seven years, there’s been kind consistent, solid leadership, and a strategic plan. We’ve been a stable group in the industry. I’m very pleased and proud of the team we have in place. We’ve got a really solid, stable, mature executive leadership team and frankly, I don’t anticipate any changes in leadership.

PM: Lennie Rhoades is stepping in at a particularly challenging time. What advice as parting president, were you able to offer Lennie about what obstacles lie ahead?

TF: I started in 2010 so I kind of started, I don’t want to say a similar time period, but because I don’t think what’s going on now is going to have the same curve or the same kind of decline that occurred in 2008. Certainly, we are in a period of softening. We can debate whether we’re in or heading toward a recession, but I think the fundamentals are sound. My advice to him has been, don’t overreact. Don’t do anything in the short term that will impact a business that’s really stable.

Of course, he’ll have his own leadership style and he’ll have his own approaches, but I advised not to let the short-term media cycle or what’s going on with the economy affect what’s a pretty good organization with a good strategy. Stay the course. Look for ways to improve. Look for ways to drive more efficiency and unique ways to go to market. But don’t overreact to a short-term economic downturn.

PM: What are your plans now? What involvement, if any, do you plan to maintain with Fluidra as you exit the organization?

TF: On a personal note, I plan on taking a break, traveling with my wife, and spending some time with my three grown children. I’d love to get involved with volunteer charity work in my community. I do intend to help Bruce and the board and the leadership team in any way possible.

If there’s any future consulting or outside work that they need help; I don’t know, maybe it’s due diligence or looking at any future acquisitions. I’ve kind of signed on to help as any special projects come along and in the very short term plus help Lennie steer the way. Any questions he has or any doors he needs to open, I’m happy to help because it’s in my and everybody’s best interest to.

Y’know, I think the best has yet to come from the company. Although there’s a little bit of a soft spot in the economy, the future is really, really bright and I think you’re going to see big things out of Fluidra in the future.

Listen to our entire conversation with Troy Franzen on the Pool Magazine podcast

5/5 - (19 votes)

Editor in Chief of Pool Magazine - Joe Trusty is also CEO of, the leading digital agency for the pool industry. An internet entrepreneur, software developer, author, and marketing professional with a long history in the pool industry. Joe oversees the writing and creative staff at Pool Magazine. To contact Joe Trusty email [email protected] or call (916) 467-9118 during normal business hours. For submissions, please send your message to [email protected]

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Chlorine Poisoning Incident at Swimming Pool in Italy

Chlorine poisoning sent 25 swimmers to the hospital at a pool in Italy, according to reports.



Chlorine Poisoning Incident at Swimming Pool in Italy

A mass chlorine poisoning incident occurred in a swimming pool in Italy’s Bosco Chiesanuova municipality, located in Verona. Officially reported that 25 individuals were injured, including children as young as three years old. Those affected were hospitalized after the incident.

The Monti Lessini Sports Centre witnessed a significant emergency response due to the incident, with cops, firefighters, and paramedics arriving at the scene. Nuclear experts, belonging to a specialized firefighting unit known as the NBCR (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical and Radiological) operatives, were also present.

The experts were summoned to help evacuate the pool, which had been contaminated with chlorine gas that was released around 10 am. The NBCR operatives are a “specialized group of firefighters that is called to intervene in exceptional situations,” as described by Italy’s Ministry of the Interior. Those who were seriously affected by the gas were transported to hospitals in Negrar, Borgo Trento, and Borgo Roma, while others were taken to medical centers in minibusses.

25 individuals were rushed to local area hospitals after a chlorine poisoning incident occurred in Verona, Italy.
25 individuals were rushed to local area hospitals after a chlorine poisoning incident occurred in Verona, Italy.

Out of the 25 individuals who were poisoned, nine were nursery school children aged between 3 and 6, who were at the pool for a swimming lesson. Four swimmers were severely affected by the toxic gas, and the manager of the pool was also hospitalized. Investigations suggest that the poisoning occurred due to a miscalculation of the amount of chlorine needed to sterilize the pool. Local media reports state that a massive overdose of chlorine led to a cloud of toxic gas rising from the water and poisoning swimmers.

The incident is reminiscent of a situation that occurred at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in 2021. Incorrect installation of a water filtration system resulted in 65 people being rushed to the hospital after the release of pool-sanitizing chemicals.

Chlorine gas can be fatal if breathed in and was used by the Germans as a weapon in World War I. Victims can experience shortness of breath, blurred vision, burning pain in the nose, eyes, and throat, as well as blisters on the skin.

This is not the only poisoning incident this year, as hundreds of girls fell ill in Iran’s schools due to a “deliberate poisoning” with chemical compounds. Chlorine gas was also used in these attacks, with victims suffering from similar symptoms as those in Italy.

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Claiming Your Swimming Pool as a Tax Deduction



Claiming Your Swimming Pool as a Tax Deduction for Medical Expenses

If you or a loved one has a medical condition that requires a swimming pool for therapy, you may be able to claim the cost of constructing a pool as a medical tax deduction. Many Americans are unaware of this tax break, which can also apply to other medical expenses such as assistant medical equipment.

Using a Swimming Pool as a Tax Deduction

Aaron Rogers owner of Southern Poolscapes recently informed a customer that they could claim part of their pool construction as a medical expense deduction on his taxes. “He built the pool to use for therapy after a recent spinal fusion,” said Rogers, “as we tallied the bill up he mentioned, ‘boy, I wish I could claim this on my taxes’, and that’s when I mentioned it to him.”

Rogers claims it isn’t the first time he’s seen someone do this but because his customer had all the right paperwork, a good portion of her swimming pool was tax deductible. “All in, I believe his net deduction came close to $50,000,” said Rogers, “in some instances, if it is doctor-recommended, the IRS allows it.”

Medical Deduction for Swimming Pools & Spas

For example, therapy pools, spas, and other similar facilities that are recommended by a doctor can be eligible for the medical tax deduction. Additionally, if you need assistant medical equipment such as a chair lift, safety rails, or other modifications to the pool, these costs can also be claimed as part of the deduction.

Installing a swimming pool or hot tub at home can be recommended by a doctor for various medical conditions, such as osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and chronic pain. Pools are also commonly used for physical therapy, particularly in cases where a person is unable to bear their full weight on a leg or other part of their body.

Claiming a therapy pool as a tax deduction may be possible with the right documentation.
Claiming a therapy pool as a tax deduction may be possible with the right documentation.

How You Claim Your Pool as a Tax Write-Off

Moreover, if you build a pool for medical reasons, it can make sense to claim the tax deduction. Building a pool can be a significant expense, but if it’s recommended by a physician, the deduction can help offset some of the costs. Plus, having a pool can provide a therapeutic benefit to the individual with the medical condition, improving their quality of life.

However, it’s important to note that there are some limitations to the medical expense deduction. Firstly, you need to itemize deductions on Schedule A, rather than taking the standard deduction. Additionally, eligible expenses must be above 7.5% of adjusted gross income (AGI) to qualify for the deduction. For example, if a couple has an AGI of $200,000, they can only deduct eligible medical expenses above $15,000.

Who is Eligible?

Based on the latest IRS data, in 2020, approximately 4 million tax filers claimed medical expenses as a deduction on their Schedule A. This is in contrast to the approximately 12 million filers who claimed mortgage interest and the approximately 13 million filers who claimed charitable donations. Despite this, the average medical expense deduction was approximately $20,000, indicating that this deduction was particularly valuable for those who qualified and likely came at a time when any tax relief was greatly appreciated.

Even if a taxpayer’s medical expenses don’t exceed the deduction threshold, it’s still important to understand what expenses qualify for the deduction. This is because the same expenses that are eligible for the deduction can also be reimbursed through a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account, without the requirement of meeting the 7.5% AGI threshold.

Claiming a Medical Expense Deduction for your Pool

To claim the medical expense deduction, you will need to keep good records and documentation of all expenses related to the construction of the pool or other medical expenses. The IRS provides a comprehensive list of eligible medical and dental expenses in Publication 502, which includes costs related to the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. Examples include bandages, guide dogs, nursing home and assisted living care, and special-education tuition.

In at least one case, the IRS did not allow a taxpayer to deduct installation costs for his pool because the taxpayer did not have sufficient medical documentation to support his claim. The taxpayer only provided a statement from his doctor advising him to lose weight, but this alone was not enough to qualify for the medical expense deduction. It’s important to have proper documentation and meet all the requirements set by the IRS to avoid being denied the deduction.

The IRS has an extensive list of tax deductible home improvement expenses that are eligible for a medical deduction. While constructing a swimming pool would be considered a capital expense, it could still be considered for a medical deduction.

When claiming a medical deduction for expenses that add permanent value to a home, such as a swimming pool, the taxpayer is required to obtain an appraisal of the increase in the home’s value as a result of the modification. The amount of the deduction must then be reduced by the appraised value increase. This is to prevent taxpayers from claiming a deduction for expenses that are not directly related to their medical condition.

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Floating Swimming Pool Proposed For San Francisco Bay Area



Floating Swimming Pool Proposed For San Francisco Bay Area

A floating swimming pool has been proposed for the city of San Francisco and set to be the city’s first public pool of its kind, bringing a new type of aquatic experience to the Bay Area. Located on the San Francisco Bay, the heated, Olympic-sized pool would float on Piers 30-32, which are currently used for parking and will be rebuilt as part of the project.

The proposed floating pool would be surrounded by retail space, offices, and housing, including an apartment tower with 725 units, 25% of which would offer affordable housing. San Francisco State Senator Scott Wiener proposed legislation in 2021 authorizing the construction of the pool on the state-owned piers. The plan proposes a unique recreational and relaxation space while also protecting the city’s waterfront from climate change and sea-level rise.

The concept has faced challenges, as previous attempts to revitalize the piers have been unsuccessful. Previous plans to turn the area into a stadium, a museum, and a cruise terminal have fallen through. However, Wiener is optimistic that this project will succeed. He believes that the previous plans failed because they tried to rehabilitate the piers, while this project involves completely rebuilding them. The success of the project depends on approval from the city, state, and various other agencies.

Floating swimming pool for San Francisco, CA.

The floating pool would be built on one of the two piers, with the other pier being converted into 375,000 square feet of offices and 45,000 square feet of retail space. The swimming pool would include space for lap swimming, water polo games, and lounging in a hot tub. A section of the Bay surrounding the pool will be dedicated to open water swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding.

The project, similar to the Plus Pool being proposed for the East River in New York City, aims to create an attractive and sustainable space that will enhance the waterfront, providing opportunities for new homes and public spaces that can be enjoyed by all.

The new plan for the project is a change from earlier versions, which emphasized commercial space on the piers, giving the impression of a large office park with a little waterfront recreation. The latest version of the project emphasizes swimming, with a focus on public access to the Bay and views of the Bay Bridge. The plan now calls for a single pier to be rebuilt, with the remaining pier to be converted into an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a shallow pool for people learning to swim, a hot tub, and shower facilities. Along the Embarcadero, there would be a market hall with food kiosks and artisan stands where makers can sell their goods.

Floating pool proposed for the Bay Area.

The project’s developers, Strada Investment Group and Trammell Crow, hope to attract bay swimmers with a roped-off area similar to the aquatic park near Crissy Field. They plan to heat the pools, most likely with fresh water, rather than the frigid water pumped in from the Bay. Developers have also released new renderings of the piers, which is more public-oriented than previous plans.

The piers’ redevelopment plan is designed to revitalize the Embarcadero and make it a more enjoyable public experience. The project’s success depends on making the Embarcadero feel less like walking by a couple of office building lobbies and more like an engaging, waterfront destination. The concept has undergone several changes in response to feedback from state agencies, particularly those that regulate the waterfront. The changes reflect the desire to create a space that is more in line with the natural environment, with a greater emphasis on public spaces and water recreation.

The project has faced several challenges, including the fact that the site where the project is proposed to be built is owned by the state, which means that special legislative approval would be required before a developer can build there. The project must also get approval from the city, the state, and several other agencies.

Developers hope that the floating pool will provide a unique aquatic experience in San Francisco, drawing locals and tourists alike to the Bay Area. The concept has received strong support from San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who said that the project would help the city to invest in critical infrastructure that would protect the waterfront from climate change and sea level rise while also creating opportunities for new homes and new spaces for the public to enjoy along the city’s gorgeous waterfront.

Photo Credits: Strada Investment Group

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