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Outdoor Living: Time for Backyard Renovations

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Outdoor Living: Time for Backyard Renovations

Nowadays, homeowners are valuing their backyard spaces much more due to the numerous COVID restrictions. Subsequently, backyard renovations are becoming much more common. Even so, harsh climatic conditions can hinder you from making the most out of your outdoor living space. Well, unless you have a reliable heat source in your backyard.

Outdoor Living: Time for Backyard Renovations

Unquestionably, almost every individual wanted to create a little escapade outside their house due to the COVID travel restrictions reinforced. Several homeowners opted to camp with their loved ones in their backyards. On the other hand, some created a mini staycation by the poolside. And as summer was coming to an end, there was a high demand for outdoor heaters. However, reports say that Dimplex began getting high demand quite earlier. Like any other product, the increased demand for outdoor heaters has led to increased supply.

Jim Bottrell, vice president of business development, states, “At first, it was essential to evaluate the effects of the global pandemic – COVID-19. Thus, we came up with a business strategy that would prevent a drop in our sales and revenues. But to our surprise, we received a lot more demand for our products; and this was unexpected. Unfortunately, our supply could not match up to our demand.” “We suppose that the high demand indisputably comes from homeowners who are fed up with being locked in their homes due to COVID guidelines. I mean, who does not want a mini vacation with their family in their outdoor living space?”

A collection of outdoor living products

Typically, outdoor heaters feature a wide range of backyard products that serve as a heat and warmth source. Some examples include grills or firepits. Such features focus on providing both excellent functionality and aesthetics. Therefore, they can get used in the evening or at night to create a warm and cozy atmosphere in your backyard. Jim Bottrell states that outdoor heaters’ demand creates an opportunity for manufacturers, retailers, and dealers to offer a full package solution. He says, “Majority of homeowners would get lured into buying a product that offers everything they want.”

Jim Bottrell continues to say, “Outdoor kitchens are ideal for offering warmth. However, if there are strong winds, an outdoor kitchen won’t do much for you. And this is where outdoor heaters come in handy. You can install them nearby the lounging areas of your backyard. You can always count on them to provide the required warmth.” Besides, outdoor heaters do not demand much functional space.

“Additionally, it all narrows down to your requirements,” Bottrell says. Let’s say you have an area that is partially enclosed; it is risky to run propane. Moreover, running cables is more straightforward than running gas lines. All in all, it all relies on what you want at the end of the day.”

At Dimplex, several models can get wired at 120V or 240V. Even so, you would instead go for a 240V infrared model.

Contrary to common belief, outdoor heater installation is simple. Nonetheless, conducting a DIY project can be dangerous since there are electrical wires involved. So, it would be best to hire a certified and licensed electrician.

Infrared technology advantage

Over the years, infrared technology has become popular among most individuals. Bottrell says, “One of the main advantages of infrared models is that they heat the objects and not the outdoor living space. So, even when it is windy, the heat will remain, and you’ll be kept warm throughout.” Moreover, infrared technology offers high flexibility; it can get used for both outdoor and indoor spaces.

Bottrell proceeds to say, “You cannot compare and infrared heater with a conventional heater. Conventional heaters provide warmth to the space; thus, immediately you open the door, all the heat escapes. Consequently, they are not as efficient in retaining warmth for a long period. On the other hand, infrared heaters focus on heating the objects and people in the room. So, whenever, you open a door or window, there is no chance of heat escaping. Thus, infrared models retain the heat in a room for long periods.”

The comforting prospect

The COVID 19 pandemic has undoubtedly led to an increase in demand for outdoor heaters. In turn, 2020 posed a challenge to increase match up with this demand. Bottrell is, however, happy about the increased popularity of outdoor heaters. The company is set to introduce a new model that incorporates mounted natural gas heaters and freestanding outdoor heaters.

Bottrell says, “One of our company’s primary objectives is to become fuel-agnostic. Also, we aim to offer different models that cater to a wide range of our consumer’s requirements, from electric systems to water vapor systems.

“The number of a hot tub and pool sales are incredibly mind-blogging. Finally, we get to see something positive out of these products. All in all, there has been a significant rise in the demand and sales for outdoor living products.”

Pool News coverage brought to you by Pool Magazine's own Marcus Packer. Marcus Packer is a 20 year pool industry veteran pool builder and pool service technician. In addition to being a swimming pool professional, Marcus has been a writer and long time contributor for Newsweek Magazine's home improvement section and more recently for Florida Travel + Life. Have a story idea or tip you'd like to share with Pool Magazine? Email mpacker@poolmagazine.com your story idea.

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Ciprianos Violin Pool Takes Social Media By Storm

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Cipriano Violin Pool - Mariah Carey Pool

Today we’ll be looking at the iconic Violin Pool and talking with the builder behind it. The most seasoned and experienced pool builders are capable of creating interesting shapes that evoke emotion and defy architectural boundaries. This is definitely the case with Chris Cipriano owner of Cipriano Landscape Design & Custom Swimming Pools, a 4 time Top 50 PSN Builder with numerous awards and accolades spanning over two decades in the pool industry.

Joe Trusty, Editor in Chief of Pool Magazine and CEO of Pool Marketing had a chance to catch up with Chris Cipriano recently and discussed one of his projects. An incredible violin shaped glass tile pool that has taken social media by storm.

The Violin Pool has become known as The Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey has been associated with the Violin Pool designed by Chris Cipriano
Mariah Carey has been renting this impressive six bedroom Westchester mansion associated with the now famous Violin Pool

The Violin Pool or known to the rest of the world as the Mariah Carey Pool is probably become one of the most iconic images associated with modern inground swimming pool designs. The pool itself is shaped like a 1700’s Stradivarius violin and incorporates realistic visual elements from the chinrest to the bow that runs across the neck.

Is This Mariah Carey’s Pool?

Multi-platinum artist Mariah Carey has been residing in the six-bedroom mansion during the Covid-19 pandemic. The diva super star vacated her glamarous penthouse with her twins in March ahead of the lockdown and has been renting the Westchester country estate since according to Variety Magazine.

Iconic Violin Pool also known as the Mariah Carey Pool
The Violin Pool, also known as the Mariah Carey pool was built by Cipriano Landscape Design & Custom Swimming Pools

Cipriano was the lead builder and designer for this impressive 1,350 square foot pool that is composed of over 440,000 individual pieces of hand cut mosaic tile. We asked him to shed a little light about the history of this pool and what it took to build it.

“The homeowner had the idea for a modern pool design based off the shape of a violin, particularly a Stradivarius. We started from a copy of the violin to base our design concepts from.” said Cipriano. “The challenge was incorporating all of the elements of the violin such as purlflings, f-holes, a bridge, strings, a tailpiece, and a chinrest but still have it be a useable swimming pool.”

Violin Pool designed by Chris Cipriano
Chris Cipriano designer of the now iconic Violin Pool or Mariah Carey pool as it’s being referred to on Social Media

Violin Glass Tile Pool With Custom Features:

  • 12-person perimeter overflow spa, with independent LED lighting.
  • 2 fish filled koi-ponds, built to resemble the “bow” of the violin, are visible to swimmers via 2 transparent acrylic panels, and are outfitted with 250 fiber optic star-lights.
  • Nearly half a million translucent glass tiles designed with a unique 4-way gradient pattern.
  • Fiber optic rope lighting detail that illuminates the entire periphery of the pool.
  • Violin strings represented by 5760 strands of fiber optic lighting, which glow beautifully at night and can be synchronized with music playing externally.
  • Riverflow jet system capable of creating a 2000 gallon/minute current that is strong enough to kayak or swim against.
  • 1,000,000 BTU heater makes year round use of the pool and spa enjoyable.
  • Wireless technology allows the homeowner to adjust any pool settings and landscape utilities directly from an iPhone.
  • Underwater audio system makes listening to music possible while swimming laps or playing underwater.
Mosaic tile interior of the violin pool has over 440,000 individual tiles
Mosaic tile interior of the Violin Pool is composed of over 440,000 individual tiles

One of the most eye catching aspects of the swimming pool is it’s mosaic tile interior. “It’s near impossible to achieve a seamless 4 direction gradient with mosaic tile but we were able to pull it off. Oceanside Glass Tile was really instrumental in helping us with this project. Not to mention Ron Jackson of Tesserae Tile & Stone and Dave Peterson of Watershape Consulting both of whom really helped to make this project such a success”.

Ciprianos team used ¾- x ¾-inch tiles — from Oceanside’s Muse collection to form the interior for the 90-foot-long pool, measuring 31 feet at the widest point and 16 ½ feet at the narrowest. “Oceanside plotted, designed and prepared sheets of tile from 1 to 15 for the gradient transition. Our team then mapped out in Auto CAD each sheet of tile on the main pool floor,” Cipriano went on to say. “While we were performing the installation, we had a person on site whose entire job was to color correct the sheets as they were being installed.”

Aerial photo of the famous Violin Pool also known as the Mariah Carey Pool
Aerial photo of the Violin Pool – a custom designed inground pool resembling a 1700’s Stradivarius

Even with 2 decades of pool construction experience under his belt, Cipriano said the project did have it’s fair share of challenges. “This project is the first time that glass tile and fiber optic lighting have been used together in a swimming pool, so we had no reference to go off of for that type of installation.” The design process itself took over 10 months. Installation took Cipriano and a team of 8 workers over 2 months to complete.

“I’m not a builder that has to do 100 pools a year” Cipriano said “I’d rather work on projects that inspire and challenge me.”

Chris cipriano – owner of cipriano landscape design & custom swimming pools
We’re profiling Chris Cipriano award winning pool builder and designer of the Dazzling Stradivarius Violin Pool

Cipriano also integrated many custom pool features that truly make this a one-of-a-kind inground swimming pool. His team constructed a 12-person perimeter overflow spa with it’s own LED lighting system to accurately represent the chinrest of the violin. Swimmers in the pool can view Koi fish swimming through 2 see through panels in adjascent ponds, built to resemble the bow of the violin. These are outfitted with 250 fiber optic star-lights and over 6,000 strands of fiber optic lighting which represent the violin strings. The strings themselves can be illuminated and synchronized to play along with an external music system that can be controlled with an iPhone.

Fiber Optic Pool lighting in the violin pool create the strings of the violin
Fiber optic pool lighting in the neck of the violin strings is synchronized with a custom sound system

The $1.5 million dollar Violin Pool project was a collaborative effort of Chris Cipriano, Dan Shea and William Moore. Their remarkable design has won numerous awards including CID’s “Residential Tile Installation” award in 2014. Representing the very cutting edge in modern pool design and a true testament to why Chris Cipriano has become recognized as one of the leading builders in the pool industry today.

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Financing Pool Construction

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Financing Pool Construction

Every worker in the pool building business loves the artistry and innovative sector of the job. It is interesting to imaginatively recreate a bare backyard with a spa, decorative lighting, a pool, and a cordial landscape. This continues down to the designer who presents the client with a plan by considering the client’s hypothetical ideas as well as financing pool construction. After that, they put it in a drawing or on paper. Isn’t it delightful working in the pool building industry?

Financing Pool Construction

Ultimately, it is time for business. Regardless of how definite and slow you explain in detail the nature of the job, a number of people are still surprised by the cost. Marcus Gentry of Sunshine Fun Pools in College Station, Texas, concurs with this fact. For him, he designs practical expectations before the process gets serious. In case of failure, he knows what to do to prevent consumer rage.

For the past eight years, Gentry and his colleagues in Sunshine Fun Pools have been working with a pool and backyard loan broker that processes credit applications. In addition, they look to other financial institutions to finance and service the loan. A pool is a great investment; hence financing pool construction makes the client comfortable commencing the project. They don’t have to put the whole amount at once but pay for it in installments.

What can you term as good financing pool construction?

Gentry and Daniella Rodriguez of Silver Springs Pool & Spa in El Paso, Texas, agree that it is more than a bank just willing to give us a lump sum of money based on a credit application.

Daniella advises contractors to look for a lender that is straightforward about the figures. The lender should avail information such as interest rates, monthly payments, fixed or adjustable rates, and prepayment penalties, if any. Get the right lender to respond to questions a client may ask when presenting the financing option to them.

Cash Options

According to Rodriguez, clients often don’t want to talk about the cost right off the start. She tries to get a clear idea of what the client wants and provides them with a rough budget at the inquiry level. The majority of the times, clients are clueless about the cost and their financing pool construction options.

A number of customers will opt to work with Traditional banks to cater for some expenses. Others are lucky and can pay off with their current financial account. Nonetheless, this adds up to only 15% of Silver Springs clients. The remaining percentage would require some assistance. For this reason, Rodriguez comes in to explain the benefits of indulging a loan broker for the pool and backyard industry.

Most customers want to establish ways to afford a pool and are pleasing to discover the project is affordable. At this point, Rodriguez assists them in filling the application form. This is a simple process, and she pushes for the application until they get a go-ahead to start.

Rodriquez believes in maintaining good communication between every involved person. With this, she maintains good communication with Sarah Bess, manager at Lyon Financial, Silver Springs’ loan brokerage. She believes the financiers need a regular update on the progress of the project. Also, Sarah calls Rodriguez to assist her clients and, in this way, strengthens their relationship.

Payment Strategy

As Gentry states, how his broker manages finances has been helpful to his firm. Instead of giving the client huge amounts of money at once, the broker keep the money, dispatching it in stages to the contractors. This seems to be a great deal for the broker, but do the clients ever get frustrated after transferring their financial control.

According to Gentry, their answer is based on the following reason. The client signs off on everything before dispatching payment to the contractors. Moreover, the brokers do regular checks on the clients concerning the project. If the customer is fine with everything, they release the funds, but they withhold the funds if they have complaints.

After that, the lender confirms with the contractors to hear them out as well. The majority of times, it is always a simple misunderstanding. If they can’t reach an agreement, the brokers inform the builders that the cash the client is withholding is not within their limit. Also, it isn’t part of the contract to resolve the issue. Such resolutions are important to protect the broker’s reputation.

When discussing people’s pools, emotions can run high. At times, a client may have a problem with the aesthetic, which is irrelevant to the construction phase. At this point, the release of funds is acceptable if there is an explanation and pictorial evidence by the builders.

Terms and Conditions

Gentry advises that when selecting a lending partner for financing pool construction, consider favorable interest rates for your clients. Also, one who will approve most of their loans rather than decline, especially those with lower credit scores, will not limit your business.

Even though it is vital to have a fast approval process, interest rates and payments are crucial for clients. Therefore, getting a partner with competitive rates is important.

Rates like 15% may seem ridiculous and have many consumers shun off. But a rate like 3% for 3 years is attractive to consumers who don’t have immediate cash there and then but would like to invest in a pool.

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Building a Successful Pool and Spa Business

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Building a Successful Pool and Spa Business

Building a thriving business from scratch is just but the second most difficult task for some pool and spa business owners. The hardest task of all is successfully handing it over as you head for retirement. It’s a scary task, especially after sacrificing a lot and caring for it. It is without a doubt you’d like it to survive and continue growing.

Building a Successful Pool and Spa Business

There are many similarities between a family business and a child. A family business is like the birth of a child and its guidance to maturity. It is always a secret wish for every owner of a pool and spa business that one of their children will take over the business. This is to give the parent-owner a smooth, beneficial transition into retirement.

Most parent-owners have had this dream despite the various challenges like family conflicts, non-interested or even unable children.

Currently, a third-generation family-owned pool and spa business, Jet line Products, is one firm that has managed to undergo a successful transition. The results have been satisfying results for both generations. The retiring generation made away with good proceeds from their years of hard work. On the other hand, the new generation maintained important positions in a new era.

Warren Feder, an associate at Carl Marks Advisors, an investment bank that guides middle market companies, led the team on this successful sale. From his experience in facilitating sales of family owned businesses, he has valuable advice for family owners interested in a successful transition while maintaining family bonds and still enjoy the fruits of their efforts.

Family dimensions can complicate the operations of a family business. Based on statistics, most family business hardly makes it to the third generation and if they do they very few go beyond that. It is an uphill task to work through a family’s challenges and the challenges of a business both combined.

Many family business owners headed for retirement believe the best solution is to sell the business. The business should also operate separately from the family, even though this may not be their first instinct.

Jet Line is a pool equipment distributor established in 1971 by the Epstein family. By early last year, it was in its third generation of ownership.

There were different family groups with varying objectives. For the second generation, several siblings wanted to exit and cash out. On the other hand, for the third generation, three of them, Andy, Josh, and Brett Epstein, were seeking different opportunities the business could present. They wanted to grow the firm.

To reach an amicable solution, they held meetings and tried to keep the issue as confidential as possible. However, word leaked, and to their surprise, POOLCORP, their biggest competitor, reached out in response to the rumors.

After much persistence, POOLCORP eventually got to have a meeting with Jet Line. The meeting turned out to be a turning point for both companies. The meeting ended in a deal, and the company was finally closed at the end of September. The deal was satisfactory for both parties where Andy and Josh Epstein joined the new company holding senior positions, and the second generation siblings cashed out from the sale proceeds.

Helpful advice on a successful sale

From the successful Jet Line sale, Feder highlights some vital lessons to facilitate the sale of a pool and spa business, specifically a family business. The first point is to limit the players involved. One member is the most preferable. If you involve equal players with an equal say, it will make it difficult to get to a deal.

Secondly, get good advisors and allow them to do their work. Let’s face it; very few family business owners know how to sell their companies. You may need market experts and people who know how to structure deals.

The third element is the firm’s record keeping, and financial system as the buyer needs proof of its profits and revenue. Purchasers can send in their accountants to validate your figures. If you have good figures, it makes it easier to strike a deal; however, it makes the process a bit challenging if you have bad figures.

One of the biggest challenges in a pool and spa business sale is that expertise and experience lie with the management looking to cash out and leave the business. This makes it hard for the buyer to grow the business successfully. At this point, procedures, systems, organization, and having experienced people for management come in as an advantage. You need to know how the business will run after your exit unless you sell to an experienced buyer. In some cases, the owner can stay for a 2-3 year period to oversee a successful transition.

Covid Symptoms; Business Weariness

Covid has altered everything just like in every area of finance and economy, in business sales and acquisition. Feder reflects on 2020 events as increasing the pace of activity.

Many older people suffered from Covid, which may be a huge turning point in the pool and spa business industry. Even though a number of people escaped this harrowing experience alive, several people opt for their health and lives compared to business. As a result, according to Feder, it is an expectation that more families will be open to selling their businesses earlier and stay to facilitate a successful pool and spa business transition to avoid health risks when aged.

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