The entire Gulf Coast region is reeling after Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, knocking out power to virtually the entire state. The category 4 hurricane obliterated roofs and actually reversed the flow of the Mississippi river as it pounded the region, causing a swath of devastation to whatever was in its path.
So far the Hurricane has been responsible for at least one reported death and has disrupted most services to a good portion of Louisiana. The pool industry still vividly recalls the effects of Hurricane Katrina which caused $81 billion dollars in property damage back in 2005 and impacted about 90,000 square miles of the Gulf Coast region. That particular storm was a Category 5 Hurricane and was responsible for over 1,800 deaths.
Pool builders got wind Hurricane Ida was coming, but scarcely had time to prepare job sites. At this point, given the level of damage the storm caused to the local area, many pool companies are looking at potentially millions of dollars in damage to vessels currently under construction.
Weather conditons such as hurricanes and tornadoes are capable of flattening a home within seconds. In many instances, the sheer force of the storm can destroy swimming pools. One storm in Australia a few years ago completely ripped a pool from the property and shows the power that severe coastal storms have and the damage they can inflict.
We all have seen first hand what ravaging hurricane winds can do to vessels. When confronted with storms of this magnitude, there is no guarantee that even the best built structures can withstand winds that exceed over 150 mph.
Jefferson Parish Emergency Management Director Joe Valiente gave his assessment of the current situation and said that local area residents may be without power for 6 weeks or more. “There are about 10 parishes that the electrical grids are completely collapsed and damaged, smashed, out — however you want to put it,” said Valiente.
The storm caused a main electricity tower to collapse into the Mississippi River, severing a critical link between power stations and five parishes. Although much of the region is currently flooded, Valiente said the one piece of good news was that the region’s levee system held up well, with only minor issues.
One of the most powerful storms to hit the area in recent years has left many communities isolated. Virtually no one in the state has electricity and many water systems are also out, Governor John Bel Edwards told media. Many local parishes throughout the New Orleans area are still flooded. President Biden declared a state of major disaster in Louisiana, coordinating 3,600 FEMA personnel to begin distributing aid immediately.
It’s difficult to gauge the exact impact on the pool industry at this point. Attempts to reach out to many local area pool builders met with failure. Many of the phone lines are down and millions currently remain without electricity. Emergency 911 services are also still down for many portions of the region.
A 100 year storm of this nature is one that few are ever prepared for. Louisiana has already been desperately trying to cope with overwhelmed hospitals that are dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. Local area residents are struggling with what little resources remain and can use whatever help they can get.
How Can The Pool Industry Help?
Mule Men, a charitable foundation that distributes humanitarian aid and is organized by such pool industry figures such as Shane Le Blanc, Jimmy Smith and others is already organizing relief efforts to distribute goods. Making a donation there is a great way to make an impact if you want to make a difference.
Las Vegas Losing Classic Fire & Water Feature – Mirage Volcano Set to Close
Hard Rock confirms iconic Las Vegas fire feature, Mirage Volcano will close.
Since MGM Resorts International sold the property to Hard Rock International last year, the resort has been undergoing a rebranding process, and the resort’s iconic volcano will not play a role in the new resort plan.
The time of the final eruption for the Mirage Volcano is unknown, and neither Hard Rock nor MGM officials would confirm exactly when the volcano would be dismantled. They plan to build another one of Hard Rocks guitar-shaped hotels in the space.
About The Mirage Volcano
When the resort opened on November 22, 1989, the volcano quickly became a fan favorite. A modeled three-acre paradise resembling the South Seas is routinely jolted awake by the ominous rumbles of the Mirage Volcano throughout the night. Rapid movement of water along with creative lighting resembles lava.
Exciting flames shoot over 60 feet into the air. If you’ve ever watched the show from the street, you can literally feel the searing heat. With music composed by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, more than 150 Fireshooters, developed by WET Design (who also created the Fountains of Bellagio), propel fireballs in a dramatic choreographed display.
The volcano was one of the first free attractions paving the way for others like the pirate battle at Treasure Island, the light shows and concerts at the Fremont Street Experience, and the Bellagio fountains.
From 8 p.m. until 11 p.m., the volcano at the Mirage continues its hourly eruptions. We took the opportunity to see this fiery spectacle, perhaps for the last time, while exhibiting at the PSP Deck Expo recently. The street was packed with onlookers watching the show on the street.
Elaine Wynn, who was married to casino magnate Steve Wynn at the time, first came up with the idea for the volcano as a great way to differentiate the Mirage from the competition.
In recent years, however, Las Vegas has been shifting away from a transparently thematic approach with its newest resorts, including the Cosmopolitan (2010), Circa (2020), and Resorts World (2021), and its reliance on free attractions and loss leaders, such as buffets and poker rooms, to bring in the bustling crowds.
Las Vegas Residents Eager To Keep Attraction
There has been a running sentiment amongst casino insiders that free attractions such as the Mirage Volcano have turned into a drain on profits. In light of the news that the Volcano is slated to be removed, many Las Vegas residents have expressed they do not want to see the attraction go.
“When I heard the news, I remember just wondering why this was going to happen,” Alden Gillespy, a longtime resident of Las Vegas and critic of removing the volcano, told the Las Vegas Sun. “The fact that they were going to tear down the volcano, that hit me personally.”
Every time it goes off, the Volcano in Las Vegas draws in hundreds of people, both young and old, to the Strip. The idea of tearing it down has been met with pushback. A group of passionate residents in Las Vegas has banded together to compel Hard Rock International and the city government to stop the new owner from demolishing what they say is a historic landmark. A petition to protect the volcano has over 9,000 signatures of support.
Among those who think the volcano should be preserved is UNLV history professor Michael Green.
“We lost a lot of hotels on the Strip because of the understandable need to build better, more modern hotels,” Green told the Sun. “The volcano is a reminder of how it helped trigger the modern Las Vegas boom.”
Congratulations Pool Nation Award Winners!
Popular pool podcast hosts award show focused on inclusion
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.
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