Pool Builders Picking Up The Pieces for Olympus Pools Customers
Pool Magazine reported about the situation with Olympus Pools roughly 10 months ago when news coverage began to hit the media. It was a story that captured the attention of the nation due to the sudden spike of interest in inground pools during the pandemic. Olympus Pools was a highly respected and well-reviewed pool company that had apparently left hundreds of homeowners high and dry with open holes in their backyard and no way to complete their pool projects.
We spoke with the owner of Olympus Pools – James Staten as well as affected homeowners early on during the initial turmoil circling Olympus Pools. In the following months, we monitored the progression of events in the media until Olympus Pools was shut down completely by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. This happened after the Florida Attorney General received over 200 complaints and estimated net losses to Tampa homeowners to be in the neighborhood of $8 million dollars. Today, Olympus Pools faces a $1.4 million dollar penalty as a result.
That’s not the end of the trouble though, aside from being forced to file for bankruptcy, SCP obtained a $1 million judgment against the Statens in September which allowed them to freeze and garnish the money in their personal bank account. To make matters worse, in addition to the civil actions, the Attorney General says the Office of Statewide Prosecution is assisting local law enforcement with a criminal investigation against Staten.
Picking Up The Pieces For Olympus Pools Customers
After the recent implosion of the company, hundreds of homeowners and contractors were left holding the bag and trying to figure out what comes next. For the homeowners, the answer isn’t so simple. Finding a pool builder that can complete the work and finish their swimming pool project has been a challenge for many. Some of the members at the FSPA, like Tony Arredondo (FSPA, Tampa Bay Chapter – Director at Large) have been working diligently to try and connect those homeowners that have been affected with local pool construction firms that can try and help salvage those jobs.
Tampa Pool Contractors Step In
We had the chance to speak recently with Arredondo and his colleague Jacob Schroth to find out how they’ve been working with local homeowners to try and salvage some of the abandoned jobs.
A permanent fixture in the Tampa community, Arredondo is the owner of Tampa Pool Pro and has been performing swimming pool renovations in the local area since 2010. Like many in the industry, Arredondo had seen the swirling news coverage about Olympus Pools. We asked him what has happened in the Tampa market in the wake of the fallout.
“It’s left a bad taste with most potential new swimming pool homeowners, and even some pool renovation clientele. Most that are familiar with the Olympus Pool situation, are very hesitant about deposits, payments, work getting done, and communication,’ said Arredondo.
Working With Olympus Pools Customers
Little by little as homeowners look to pick up the pieces of their project, they’ve been reaching out to local pool renovation experts like Tampa Pool Pro. Consequently, Arredondo has been applying the communications tools his firm uses when working with former Olympus Pools customers. “When assessing the call, we handle them with kid gloves,” said Arredondo, “we make sure they have everyone’s phone numbers and have numerous communication options, such as our mirroring text service app that allows everyone on the job to see each and every text that comes in.”
Customers Say There Was Zero Communication
Lack of communication was a complaint Arredondo heard again and again from customers having little to no idea as to the progress of their build. “No one was returning their calls, and it was weeks and months before hearing from an assigned Project Manager for their build–if they heard anything at all,” said Arredondo.
That lack of communication and the practice of overselling and under-delivering is what gets pool builders in hot water again and again said Arredondo who explained that avoiding customers’ questions and complaints is a sure-fire recipe for the type of disaster Olympus Pools experienced.
“The communication between us and the client is of utmost importance,” said Arredondo, “most do not expect you to be on the job site daily–micromanaging your team. However, they do expect you to keep in touch with them and return their calls, or send them a quick text message or email. We set that expectation with every client. There’s absolutely no excuse, period. Education and good communication create trust.”
Abandoned Pools Need Thousands of Dollars in Renovation Work
There is still a ton of work to be done on many of these pools Arredondo is looking at. Often homeowners are looking at a bill of tens of thousands of dollars to complete their backyard pool project. This uncomfortable fact comes after paying most for most of their pool project upfront with Olympus.
Many of these pools are abandoned jobs that have been exposed to the elements for months before a contractor has had a chance to review the work that has been done. Still, Arredondo says he is eager to work with the ones intent on finishing their pool project. “We walk them through the deposit schedules and educate them on the scope of work needed for completion,” said Arredondo, “this includes the processes and timeframes. We have a 100% success rate with the clients we’ve worked with and have completed their projects in a timely manner. It’s really helping to restore their faith in the swimming pool industry.”
Advice For Homeowners Looking for a Pool Builder
In helping Tampa homeowners find a reliable pool builder to work with, Arredondo had some suggestions to help prevent homeowners from falling victim to fraud, “I would highly recommend researching pool companies they are calling and performing thorough due diligence,” explained Arredondo, “call the City/County/State agencies, research their license to see if they have complaints.”
Reading the online reviews for a business does not give homeowners accurate and up-to-date information about that company claims Arredondo who opined that in today’s digital world, consumers are looking at online reviews and getting half a story or a completely fictional one in some cases.
He says that reading a companies Google reviews doesn’t always offer a complete picture of how reputable that pool contractor is. “Olympus Pools had an impeccable reputation in the state of Florida until just a few months of complaints hitting the media. While the state started receiving complaints, they did not show up online right away,” said Arredondo.
Arredondo has been coordinating with pool contractors from around the Tampa region to help finish some of these jobs. “That’s the beautiful thing about the pool industry. There is so much work for everyone,” said Jacob Schroth who has been working closely with Arredondo, “There is no competition between us and when there’s a problem within our industry we are able to all fix it together.”
While the majority of homeowners are still looking to the district attorney’s office for a final resolution and compensation, that process may take years to fully see the course. For those homeowners who are ready to pick up the pieces, it’s refreshing to see some of these completed projects. One year after all of the negative attention and bad publicity this has created the process of healing can begin for those homeowners. Eager to make a difference in their community, Arredondo and Schroth know that re-establishing that trust with consumers and the pool industry is absolutely vital in Tampa.
Texas-Shaped Pool a Must When Visiting Houston
Pool Magazine was recently in Houston for the annual Southwest Pool & Spa Show. Absolutely no visit to Houston is complete without checking out the Texas-shaped pool at Altitude Rooftop & Pool located on the 6th floor at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Houston.
The Southwest Pool & Spa Show, a premier event for pool and spa professionals, was hosted this year at the George Brown Convention Center. The convention center is conveniently connected to the Marriott Marquis which made deciding to visit a no-brainer for us and a must-visit destination for plenty of attendees and exhibitors at the show.
We took advantage of the opportunity to check out the one-of-a-kind pool experience. During our visit, we saw a number of pool pros taking time out before and after the show to visit the pool. This only reinforced its importance to the industry and its impact on the pool design and construction world.
Texas Shaped Pool is an Iconic Pool Destination
Undeniably, the standout feature of the Altitude Rooftop & Pool at the Marriott Marquis Houston is its distinctly shaped pool, offering guests a unique and unforgettable recreational experience. The crowning jewel is the Texas-shaped lazy river, accented by a beautiful infinity pool, and large spa.
The $335 million dollar project was designed by Morris Architects and built by Rida Development and Houston First. The iconic lazy river features walls and a stainless steel spa that were custom-made by manufacturer Natare which designs vessels and equipment for competition, fitness, leisure, and aquatic recreation. Using over 100 tons of stainless steel, the materials were manufactured in their state-of-the-art facility located in Indianapolis, IN.
The vinyl liner Texas-shaped pool is truly a fun and entertaining spectacle that gives swimmers a floating tour around the state. Approaching the western side of the Texas-shaped pool swimmers are treated to a clear, acrylic wall overlooking the roof’s edge before water jets shoot them southeast along the path of the Rio Grande. In the center of the lazy river, children can play in the water features of a circular splash pad, 20 feet in diameter. The innovative stainless steel “bowl” of the splash pad is lined with stone pavers, through which water drains back to the filtration system.
Along the edge of the rooftop is an impressive 77-foot long infinity pool, where swimmers can relax and look out over the Houston skyline and Discovery Green below. The infinity pool is accompanied by a large spa, composed of two large, overlapping rectangular sections, each one about 8 feet by 10 feet.
The rooftop is decked out with thousands of winter lights and interactive displays for the duration of the winter season as part of the “Texas Winter Lights” exhibit. The temperature of the heated lazy river is a pleasant 80 degrees. During the spring, each Friday night is dedicated to watching movies on the rooftop terrace.
With an emphasis on green technology, the Altitude Rooftop & Pool is powered by energy-efficient pumps and filters, reducing its carbon footprint and making it a more sustainable option for guests who care about the environment. In addition to its exceptional design and construction, High Dive rooftop bar and restaurant offers guests the perfect place to enjoy a drink or snack while taking in the stunning views.
The Marriott Marquis Houston opened in the spring of 2016, adding over 1,800 construction jobs and 700 permanent jobs to Houston’s hospitality industry. Whether you’re a local or just passing through, the Altitude Rooftop & Pool is a must-visit destination in Houston, offering a one-of-a-kind pool experience.
Take a Tour of This Iconic Texas Shaped Pool
Million Dollar Pool Design Challenge Winner – Rance Schindler
Pool Magazine takes a deep dive into the Million Dollar Pool Design Challenge winning entry by Rance Schindler.
Pool Magazine is proud to have been one of the sponsors of this 2022’s Million Dollar Pool Design Challenge at the PSP Deck Expo in Las Vegas. The winning design was done by up-and-coming designer Rance Schindler who blew away the judges with his $10,000 winning entry, courtesy of Riverflow Pumps by Current Systems.
The annual competition is the brainchild of renowned designers Mike Farley and Reid Schindler, and it seeks to promote cutting-edge ideas for backyards by doing away with financial restraints. Designers are invited to enter the competition and create the ultimate outdoor oasis for hypothetical clients on a million-dollar budget.
Entrants in the 2022 competition were tasked with creating an outdoor living oasis for a husband-and-wife pair of lawyers in Chicago, Illinois. Designing the ultimate backyard for these dream clients meant planning a seasonal space that would prioritize health, wellness, and self-care.
Some prerequisites for submissions were that the design should incorporate a few wish list items:
- Home has a lower terrace area, front approach, and rooftop terrace.
- Seasonal usage of space, designer should consider wind, sun direction, shade, and the Chicago climate.
- Clients goal for the space is a space to unwind.
Aesthetics & View
- Keep the view open if possible, but they also want privacy.
- Preferred to have natual elements, but they love structured design.
Pool & Spa
- The pool is for health, wellness, and self care.
- They are looking for a complete setting, not just a swimming pool.
- A hot tub and cold plunge are needed, possibly a sauna.
Elements to Include
- A fire element to gather around.
- Cool lighting.
- The use of a Riverflow Pumps by Current Systems product (lazy river or swim jet system).
- A real or synthetic lawn space.
- The use of Ledge Lounger furniture.
- An outdoor kitchen.
- The couple will entertain/host six to 12 guests maximum.
- The wife teaches yoga and barre as a hobby, and wants a space to exercise and cool off.
A large number of entrants tried out for the Million Dollar Pool Design Challenge, but only a select few were invited to Las Vegas to show off their skills. PoolHaus’s Brent Dutton, Old State Landscape’s Whitney Morris and Stephanie Carnahan, Complete Exterior Solutions’ Rance Schindler, Randy Angell Designs’ Brad Holley, and AquaTerra Outdoors’ Minsung Kim, Karishma Karki, Paola Hidalgo, and Sameepa Modi were also finalists.
Entries were evaluated by an expert panel of judges based on the following factors:
1. Aesthetic Quality – Is the concept’s form pleasant to look at?
2. Differentiation – Is the concept “fresh” & unique?
3. Functionality -Does the concept meet the criteria of the families needs? Does it consider all elements site analysis?
4. Realization Possibility – Is the concept buildable if the client decided to move forward with construction? ie. topographically, features, function
Let’s take a look at this year’s winning design by Rance Schindler of Complete Exterior Solutions. One of the prerequisites of the client was shade.
This design answers that request with a large tree that shades the outdoor living space and becomes a central focal point of the backyard.
The design plan also features a lovely rooftop dining and conversation area as well as an outdoor kitchen.
A gorgeous glass deck overhangs the entire outdoor living space and looks down on a smartly appointed pool, fire pit, and lounging area below.
Think you’ve got what it takes to enter next year’s Million Dollar Pool Design Challenge? Learn more about this contest and how to enter.
Art In The Pool With Ania Amador
These days, artists find inspiration working in a variety of different mediums. Take a stroll around town and you’re liable to stumble across art in the strangest of places. Case in point, the subject of today’s discussion. Ania Amador is an artist who has rapidly been building a following and has gone viral with her surrealistic swimming pool murals.
To appreciate her art does involve stepping out of your comfort zone. No, you won’t need a ticket to a gallery or museum. To view this art up close and personal, you’ll have to strap on your bathing suit or put on a pair of swim trunks.
Using the Swimming Pool as an Art Canvas
A trained commercial artist, Amador gave us some insight as to how she first got started painting swimming pools. “I’ve been doing this for about ten years – full time, but I’ve always been creative and liked painting. When it comes to my mural work, it’s really great to be able to diversify and paint in private homes,” explained Amador, “Pools seem to be pretty popular these days, and I’ve had a lot of fun the two times I’ve had the chance to paint a pool.”
What drew our eye to Amador’s work, is not only the vivid and surrealistic imagery she incorporates into her murals but also her preferred canvas. A swimming pool seems to be the most unlikely place you’d find a detailed mural depicting an astronaut lost in space. However, it’s exactly that decision to apply this painting technique inside the pool that is turning heads.
“That was my first time ever painting on the ground or in an immersive surface like that, where it’s actually around you and trying to think about all the different angles and how most people would be experiencing the painting,” said Amador.
“There were a lot of unknowns with the space pool specifically, and I just went for it. I thought the astronaut would be a really good way to achieve a good perspective from either side of the pool, and that was the focal point,” explained Amador, “Then I was able to add a vortex and galaxy. The client had a couple of other specifics they also wanted to be thrown in there, but that’s usually how these concepts unfold. I meet with my clients, see what their overall vision is, and then I come up with my own spin on what that is.”
Amador Creates Surreal Art Murals in Swimming Pools
The project took Amador a while to complete and was well documented on social media while she was painting it, as are many of her other projects. In the course of painting the pool, she began to attract more and more followers. Consequently, she slowly began thinking of her next pool painting which would feature a surreal seascape theme.
“It’s funny because some of my most viral projects have been a swimming pool and then another huge ocean scene I did. I knew that this one was going to be a hit,” said Amador.
Her latest creation which depicts an underwater scene was documented in a time-lapse video of her painting the entire swimming pool over the course of ten days. As with the first, her second pool painting generated millions of views and shares.
“I’m so humbled and grateful for all of the people appreciating my work. I could have never imagined millions of people getting to see my art and I’m glad it makes them happy. That has been an incredible experience and I’m really just thankful for all the support,” said Amador.
On Creating Art in The Pool
Ania acknowledged that this type of artwork is temporary and degrades over time and her client who commissioned the work knew this as well. Due to the technique used and the harsh environment a swimming pool presents, the pool will need to be repainted eventually. The average lifespan of the paint her clients chose is only 3 to 5 years, according to Amador.
Not all art is made to be permanent. Ephemeral art is to be appreciated in the here and now. Although these murals are temporary, it’s easy to appreciate the beauty in Amador’s work.
When she’s not painting her latest pool masterpiece, you can find this professional artist painting at rock concerts in front of a live audience, working on a new commission, or teaching a workshop. If you’re eager to learn more, listen to our entire conversation and interview with Ania Amador on the Pool Magazine podcast.
Photo Credits: Ania Amador
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