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Pool Supply Shortages Are Real

Ongoing shortages continue to beleaguer the pool construction and pool service industry

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Pool Supply Shortages continue to hurt the pool industry. Valves, pipe fittings, PVC pipe are in short supply these days.

Pool supply shortages continue to create real problems for the industry as we move further along into the 2021 pool season. One unexpected side effect to the Covid-19 pandemic last year was a renewed interest in swimming pools. For the first time ever, the pool industry has had less competition for discretionary dollars than any time in it’s history.

The Pool Industry Grew 24% in 2020

Pool & Hot Tub Alliance said the industry grew by 24% last year. That kind of growth however, has not come without some noticeable consequences that are beginning to affect the industry in a number of ways.

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While popularity for swimming pools has dramatically increased, manufacturing and production has had trouble keeping up with demand. A widening gap between available labor to build swimming pools has created delays in production. The pool construction and pool service industries also continue to struggle with rising costs for essential materials such as PVC pipe, valves, tile, heaters, concrete, the list goes on and on.

Jandy Valves getting are to come by say contractors
Contractors say it’s become increasingly difficult to get essential components like valves after the Texas Freeze.

Every conceivable component or sector that is involved in the construction, manufacturing, or installation of inground pools has been impacted this year to some degree. Some companies are beginning to notice the impact faster than others. Already large volume builders have begun to find themselves in serious hot water as they seem to be directly effected the most by shortages in labor and materials.

Widening Gap in Labor Force & Manufacturing

The disparity in available bodies to build and service pools is creating a widening gap. The bubble only continues to grow as Americans still find themselves largely still under home quarantine. Despite assertions from the White House that we’d all be vaccinated by May 1st, a large portion of the country still remains unvaccinated. Travel has not yet begun to resume to it’s normal pace. Currently only 32.8% of the population is fully vaccinated. This certainly means that as we rapidly approach the height of the summer months that we can expect a repeat of 2020 in terms of demand.

Coping With Pool Shortages & Price Increases in 2021

How does this bode for pool companies who already have signed contracts with customers based on estimated prices and deadlines? Many builders and service companies we’ve spoken to stated the situation is creating increasing stress on customer relationships. They are concerned that ongoing delays and scarcity can lead to more and more angry customers.

Experts predict with the rising costs on materials and equipment, the average price of a swimming pool will continue to increase from last year. Pool service companies are also impacted. With the rising cost of chlorine tablets and other essential components, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find able bodies to build and service pools.

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A 50lb bucket of Chlorine Tablets now costs $40 more than it it did only 6 months ago.
A 50lb bucket of Chlorine Tablets now costs $40 more than it it did only 6 months ago.

The Perspective In The Trenches

We spoke with Stephen Little, CEO of Claro Pool in Palm Desert. Little runs a large pool service company which maintains and services roughly 10,000 pools a month. He is also a contractor on the front lines of the issue that has experienced shortages first-hand. From his viewpoint the delays in manufacturing are a large part of the problem. “Manufacturers have shut down due to shelter in place orders.” said Little “They aren’t producing, when they are producing, they’re short labor. With the shelter in place orders folks are required to stay at home.”

Little suggested that recent changes in legislature may also be contributing to the lack of available labor. “The last 12-15 months it’s become so tough to get the products we are accustomed to getting easily.” said Little. “I’m used to placing an order with distribution and getting it within 60 minutes. That is not the case anymore. We have to be much more strategic when we place an order.”

PVC Shortage Looms On The Horizon

Rising costs of PVC are also creating a serious problem. Last years Hurricane impacted production for Petrochemical plants in Texas and Louisiana. The ramifications of that shut down are coming to light this pool season. “PVC has been a problem.” said Little “We’ve seen price increases across the board in fittings, filters and pumps and anything made of PVC.”

Shock & Awe at Soaring Prices

“It has been shock and awe” continued Little “because we’ve had double and triple digit increases in the products and pieces we buy. From labor, to PVC, to dry chlorine products, to parts and equipment.”

Although prices are increasing, swimming pools still need to be properly maintained. Regardless of how chlorine prices may fluctuate this season, experts say – not adhering to proper maintenance guidelines can create a serious health hazard.

A 35lb bucket of tabs is going for $250 in New Jersey on Facebook Marketplace
A 35lb bucket of tabs is going for $250 in New Jersey on Facebook Marketplace

The reality is pool service companies are struggling to honor pricing commitments to customers with the increases they’ve seen from distributors. As costs for chemicals continue to rise, Little suggested that now is not the time for consumers to start being penny wise and dollar foolish when it comes to proper maintenance

“Think about the absolute catastrophe if people stop maintaining their pools” said Little “Let’s throw 8 or 10 million pools with algae into the mix and you will have a nuclear pandemic.”

Using Tried & True Alternative Products

Little who holds a masters degree in organic chemistry, says his company has not been impacted as hard by the recent chlorine tablet shortage as the rest of the country. He suggested that pool service companies begin switching to liquid chlorine.

Borates which decrease the amount of chlorine needed are also part of his regimen. “Hydrogen borate is part of our value proposition when servicing pools. It reduces chlorine demand,” said Little “when you buffer alkalinity and you keep the pH stable, we can keep healthier pools with less chlorine consumption.”

Labor Force Can Make More Staying Home

One of the major catalysts for rising prices has undeniably been a shortage of available skilled labor. The Covid-19 relief bill may have had one major unexpected side effect. Much of the skilled labor pool is still at home this pool season.

Little indicated that a large percentage of the workers that build, service and maintains pools would simply rather collect unemployment right now. “It is possible to protect your employees and your clients in the workplace.” said Little “When an employee can make $25 an hour to stay home in perpetuity or can go to work and make $20 bucks an hour, they won’t even come in for an application.

It it a hot button topic for many in the pool industry. Pool company owners say that while demand has skyrocketed, the available pool of skilled labor has not kept up. This disparity seems to have created the perfect conditions for rising prices and the shortages the pool industry is now facing.

Shortages Seem Real Enough To Those On The Front Lines

Steve Goodale, also known as Swimming Pool Steve, is one of the most popular bloggers in the pool industry. We asked him to weigh in on the issue when we contacted him Saturday afternoon about the shortages. “In my 30 years in the pool industry I have never seen the supply chain so dried up at this time of year. No pipe available, no valves, pumps and heaters in very short supply” Goodale continued “I definitely believe that chlorine is going to run short this year, along with a great many other things.”

PVC SHORTAGE: Experts say PVC Pipe is the next major shortage looming on the horizon for the pool industry.
Experts say PVC Pipe is the next major shortage looming on the horizon for the pool industry.

Goodale explained some of the issues he felt were the underlying precursor to the shortages. “There has been unprecedented activity and interest from home owners in their pools. Record numbers of pools being used, built, fixed… and the supply chains have all been hobbled by Covid for over a year now.”

Comparing This Year’s Shortages To Last Year’s Toilet Paper

Many in the industry have drawn an analogy between the announcements of this year’s shortages and last year’s toilet paper craze. Goodale replied “I definitely do not want to be an alarmist and cause a shortage where there is none, but in my experience this is going to be a very hard year for pool owners and pool industry workers alike.”

Walmart is flat out telling consumers there is a Chlorine shortage and is limiting the quantity that shoppers can purchase.
Walmart is flat out telling consumers there is a Chlorine shortage and is limiting the quantity that shoppers can purchase.

All over America, supplies are skyrocketing in cost and retailers are explaining it’s because of dwindling supplies, yet the industry itself is sending out mixed messages. Some manufacturers say that there is no shortage and some say there is. Stuck in the middle are consumers who don’t know what to make of the situation. All they know is a bucket of tabs costs substantially much more than it did last year and are in limited supply when they can find them. Most consumers aren’t even aware of the issues with PVC and other supplies yet because Chlorine shortages are currently monopolizing the media’s attention.

The industry can't seem to make up their mind if there is a Trichlor tab shortage or there isn't one.
The industry can’t seem to make up their mind if there is a Trichlor tab shortage or there isn’t one. Consumers are getting conflicting messages.
Hayward says there IS a Trichlor Shortage, Poolcorp says there isn't one.
People comparing the recent chlorine shortages to last year’s toilet paper craze are in for a rude awakening.

We reached out to pool companies on social media and asked what kind of shortages they are experiencing. They weren’t shy about sounding off:

One Reddit user ‘just_tryin_2_make_it‘ said “We have a shortage of pipe fittings down in Texas. People are hoarding and creating a shortage for profit due to the disaster and those in need are without.”

As the pool season progresses, one thing is certain – a lack of available manpower and supplies are real problems that pool service and pool construction firms alike both have to contend with this summer. Listen to our entire interview with Stephen Little, CEO of Claro Pool on the Pool Magazine podcast.

Featured Photo Credit: Alan Smith Pools

5/5 - (31 votes)

Editor in Chief of Pool Magazine - Joe Trusty is also CEO of PoolMarketing.com, 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 info@poolmagazine.com or call (916) 467-9118 during normal business hours. For submissions, please send your message to submissions@poolmagazine.com

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Tesla Pool – Automaker Adds Swimming Pool To Charger Station

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Tesla Swimming Pool

One of the primary reasons consumers opt to purchase a Tesla is the robust availability of convenient charging stations. Recently, the automaker has experimented with adding amenities to its charging stations. New cube lounges at a Supercharger station in Germany come equipped with automated coffee, food, and more. Tesla is also adding other options and fun activities for drivers to enjoy while they wait for their vehicles to charge. The newest amenity they’re currently experimenting with is an above ground swimming pool.

A clip of the pool being installed prior to launch was shared with news sources.

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The swimming pool can be used by up to 4 people at a time for 10 minutes, giving folks just enough time to change into their swim suits and enjoy a quick dip while their vehicle charges. There are even Tesla-branded beach balls to play with while they’re swimming in the shipping container style above ground pool.

This promotional popup will open at the Tesla charging station in Hilden, Germany; which incidentally is one of the largest in the country with 40 chargers and 8 superchargers. The pool will be open from Thursday until Sunday. Tesla owners can drop in for a swim from 2:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.

What do you think about this idea? Is this something you’d like to see in the United States? Sound off in the comments and let us know.

3/5 - (2 votes)

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Pool Rental App Swimply Is The New Side Hustle For Homeowners

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Pool Rental App Swimply Is The New Side Hustle For Homeowners

Pool rental marketplace Swimply has created the ultimate side hustle for homeowners. Spending upwards of $100,000 to create the ultimate luxury outdoor living area is an investment some are willing to make. This is especially true if one can be confident they will recoup that investment quickly. Renting the pool to friends and neighbors is one smart way to do just that.

The Pool Rental Concept

Pool rentals are sweeping the nation and the innovative online marketplace Swimply is leading the charge. Described as “Airbnb of swimming pools,” Swimply debuted last year. According to the firm, there are over 20,000 swimming pools in all 50 states, as well as in Canada and Australia.

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After recently raising $40M in funding from AirBnB and Lime co-founders last year, Swimply is poised for tremendous growth moving into 2023. The service has been rapidly gaining traction with consumers who are attracted by the ability to rent a swimming pool by the hour.

Renting a pool by the hour may can be very profitable. Swimply has created the marketplace for renting a pool.
Renting a pool by the hour may can be very profitable. Swimply has created the marketplace for renting a pool.

Swimply’s Business Model is Unique

In the sharing economy, Swimply, definitely deserves recognition for their offering. Providing a marketplace that allows buyers and sellers to connect and rent a pool is at the core of the company’s business plan. The model is simple, Swimply takes 15% of the booking fee from hosts and 10% from guests.

Swimply’s pool rental marketplace can be lucrative for hosts and may not be as weird as it sounds. As water recreational facilities were shut down by COVID in the last two years, Swimply has emerged to fill the vacuum. Consequently, the company has grown exponentially.

We spoke with Swimply Co-Founder and COO Asher Weinberger last year about the revolutionary new technology which is connecting homeowners with an open marketplace of consumers looking to rent a backyard for a few hours.

Listen to our conversation on the Pool Magazine podcast:

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Pool Rental Marketplace Grew 5,000% During Covid

After a soft launch back in 2019, Weinberger quickly realized that the public was elated with their offering. “There was a tremendous amount of interest and at the time we could only meet 10 to 15% of the demand,” said Weinberger. “That helped set the stage for us because we learned a lot about what people wanted and how they were using the platform.”

“We caught huge tailwinds in light of Covid and grew roughly 5,000% year over year,” said Weinberger. Since then, Swimply’s marketplace has exploded with consumers searching for a safe recreational experience with friends and loved ones in an open outdoor setting. This has been true both on the guest side and the host side.

Homeowners Look To Monetize Their Pool

It appears that word has definitely begun to spread that renting your pool is a sweet new side hustle. One man in particular recently made the news after he reportedly netted $177,000 just by renting out his pool and backyard.

Jim Battan of West Linn, Oregon, told news sources, “I love to say that the pool has paid for itself and more. I built a man cave last year, and also credit that to my Swimply pool.”

Swimply As a Side Hustle

Being a Swimply host isn’t for everyone, according to Battan. The side hustle does require a fair amount of work on the part of the host. Maintaining the pool between guests involves much more than simply setting out fresh towels. His 26-foot by 18-foot pool and its accompanying pool house has cost him roughly $37,000 in maintenance over the last decade. On a typical week, Battan estimates that he and his wife Lisa spend approximately 12 to 14 hours cleaning and testing the water’s chemicals as well as managing all of their bookings.

“I love the income, but I generally caution people from it,” Battan told reporters. “Unless you’re retired or don’t have a day job, it takes a lot of time to learn about pool chemistry and management. It’s not good enough to just rely on a once-a-week service to come out look at your stuff. I look at my pool chemicals probably five to 10 times a day.”

Renting Your Pool By The Hour Can Be Profitable

It’s also important to note that Battan’s pool represents the best-case scenario. Currently, he’s Swimply’s top earner out of 25,000 pools in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. The average host earnings are between $10,000 to $20,000 per year.

Ned Gilardino is another top earner from Aurora, Colorado who is cashing in on the lucrative side hustle. Last year he rented his pool out roughly 500 times clearing close to $50,000 in the process.

“Not only has the extra money paid for the cost of maintaining the pool,” Gilardino told news sources, “it has actually brought in an entire new revenue stream for my family.”

Pool rentals vary by price and can be filtered to meet price, features, and amenities. - Photo Credit: Swimply
Pool rentals vary by price and can be filtered to meet price, features, and amenities. – Photo Credits: Swimply

Homeowners who are looking for MSI’s (multiple sources of income) can certainly put Swimply on their list of resources. Typically most swimming pools on the platform rent between $15 and $75 an hour. However, there appears to be no limit on how much hosts can earn. We’ve seen some pools in premium areas such as Beverly Hills rent for as much as $200 an hour. Those with luxury amenities in their backyard obviously can charge towards the higher end of the spectrum.

Guests can search for an ideal backyard in their price range to throw a pool party and even filter their search to show properties that have specific amenities. Finding a backyard with a fire pit, or an outdoor grilling area, or one that allows pets, is easy. Swimply made it simple to narrow down selections with the ideal features consumers are looking for.

The interface is simple and intuitive to use on both ends. Swimply also made it super easy for homeowners to track their reservations, communicate with guests and quickly get their pool rental up in their easy-to-use marketplace.

Swimply’s Contribution To The Shared Economy

Given that public pools are closing at an alarming rate, Swimply has also started filling a gap in underserved communities, much the way Uber and other sharing economy platforms have.

While the shared economy is a young concept itself; Swimply’s arrival simply ushers something we will undoubtedly see even more of in years to come. Though unexpected and a newcomer; one thing is certain, homeowners and consumers have embraced the concept of renting a pool by the hour.

4.6/5 - (17 votes)

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Sinkhole in Swimming Pool Kills Man, Swallows Guests

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Sinkhole in Swimming Pool Kills Man, Swallows Guests

A man was found dead after being swallowed by a sinkhole that opened up in a private swimming pool. The incident transpired in Israel where authorities are still trying to figure out what caused two men to be swept away by the receding water after a sinkhole sprang up within an inground swimming pool at a private property in central Israel. One was recovered dead at the scene on Thursday afternoon.

The body was located by search crews in the town of Karmei Yosef after a four-hour recovery operation conducted by rescue personnel who were lowered deep underground. The search was hampered by concerns that tunnels extending from the sinkhole could lead to a second collapse.

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It took rescuers several hours of searching before they were able to uncover the body of the man who had gone missing. The other 34-year-old man who had been trapped for some time, was saved and treated for minor injuries to his lower body.

Rescuers worked for hours to find the missing victims body. - Photo Credits: Fire and Rescue Services
Rescuers worked for hours to find the missing victims body. – Photo Credits: Fire and Rescue Services

Employees of a private company were having a pool party when the incident occurred. About 50 people were present at the time of the accident, according to one guest.

“The water level suddenly started receding and a hole opened up, creating a vortex that swept two people inside,” the guest told news sources.

She said a sinkhole opened a vortex formed which swallowed up the victim in a matter of seconds. She yelled at her coworkers to get out of the pool as the sinkhole emerged, but they initially assumed it was a game. Authorities say, fortunately, there were only 6 people in the pool at the time or injuries and casualties could have been far greater.

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“Seconds later, the ground just dropped… I watched two people just disappear,” she added.

According to police, an investigtion into the incident is currently underway, and they plan to find out if the pool was operating with the proper license.

4/5 - (8 votes)

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