Shortages continue to plague the pool industry and have now begun to cause tremendous delays for pool builders. Experts say a serious plastics shortage is trickling down and impacting builders across the pool industry. Diminished supplies and rising costs for raw materials are causing prices to skyrocket with distributors. Supply chains have been dramatically affected by a recent surge in demand for pool products as well as the COVID-19 shutdowns. As manufacturing plants begin to come back online, many in the industry are beginning to wonder if it’s too little too late to save this year’s pool season. Supply delays are already causing serious problems for pool builders across the nation and the situation looks to only be getting worse as the season goes on.
Shortages Cause Distributors to Raise Prices
Across the board – prices for chemicals, components, and machinery have gone up with major distributors. PoolCorp announced price increases earlier this year that are set to start on May 3, 2021. Many pool companies however, have reported wide spread price increases from other distributors in the months prior to the announcement taking effect. Stock on many essential components are in short supply due to Covid causing a series of wide spread factory slowdowns. This following an unprecedented demand for pool and spa goods in 2020.
Hurricane Laura sparked a fire at one of the main chlorine production plants, shutting down more than 40% of the chlorine tablet production in the United States. We have seen significant price increases on chemicals, especially chlorine. The price for chlorine tablets is predicted to increase up to 50% by mid July according to analysts.
Plastics Shortage Impacting The Pool Industry
ISM is reporting a plastics shortage that is already predicted to severely impact the pool industry. Raw material shortages for resin have dramatically impacted supply chains. Dwindling supplies were already tight say leading experts. The recent deep freeze caused by winter storm Uri, took many supplies off the market as pool owners in Texas experienced millions of dollars in unexpected pool equipment repairs.
The Petrochemical industry which is largely based in Texas, was nearly brought to it’s knees during the winter. Uri had disastrous implications on supplies which are impacting the inventory that pool companies have depended on being available for this seasons installation projects.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which cited S& P Global Platts, the freeze in Texas, one of the largest exporters of plastics and other petrochemical products, halted production of 75% of polyethylene, 62% of polypropylene, and 57% of PVC. Texas manufactures about 85 percent of the polyethylene used in the United States, making it the most commonly used plastic in the world. The manufacturing delays have triggered a global plastics shortage.
Maintaining Pricing Structures is Impossible
Maintaining existing pricing structures has already become untenable for pool service companies due to the rising costs of chemicals like trichlor and dichlor. Many pool service companies have begun to send out announcements to customers to expect price increases on weekly pool service this season. “We have absolutely no choice” said Mike Pompura of Pool Masters in Corona, CA. “Distributors have raised their prices considerably this season and unfortunately we are going to have start passing these price increases on to our customers.”
Pompura who has run his pool service company for the past two decades, says he has never seen conditions like this before. “I’ve been in business since 2001 and this is the worst I have seen it. We are having problems getting valves. PVC has also gone way up this year” said Pompura.
The problems Pompura is experiencing seem to echo the sentiments of many pool companies sounding off in pool industry groups on social media. The stress on plastic supplies and a surge on demand for resins are causing bottlenecks in the supply chain across the nation. Experts cite a number of causes for ongoing delays including port closures, over the road capacity shortages, and an increased demand on plastics for food packaging and PPE.
Emile Stinchcombe of Aqua Guard Pools in Detroit says the problem is bigger than just a shortage of materials. The Covid-19 relief bill has provided extra stimulus to the point where the industry finds itself suddenly short of skilled labor during the busiest months of the pool season. “We have a serious shortage of labor this year. Suddenly everyone wants to stay home and collect unemployment instead of work for a living. I’ve never seen anything like it in all my years in the pool industry.” said Stinchcombe.
Winter storm Uri hit petrochemcial plants in Texas and Louisiana hard. Many industry experts fear that supply chains have not yet recovered to make a meaningful impact in time for this years pool season. This could very well be why major distributors are hedging their bets by stating that further price increases may be just around the corner.
Shortages Causing Prices to Soar
One thing is certain, with raw materials increasing in price – consumers can be certain to feel the trickle down effect in their wallet this pool season. The price of an inground swimming pool is predicted to increase 15-25% in most markets throughout the United States this year in comparison to last year. This is on par with the rising costs of raw materials like lumber contributing to an expected additional $36,000 to the price of average new home construction this year.
In addition, timelines for completing inground pool projects have also been dramatically impacted. There is an enormous backlog of homeowners waiting just to get on the list for pool construction. Consumers can expect extended timelines for construction to go up from the typical timeframe of 6-8 weeks to now 3 months or more in many areas of the country.
The news does not bode well for homeowners like Penny Lopez in Las Vegas who contracted with her pool builder back in January and is still waiting for her pool to be finished. “We were told that we would be swimming by May but I’m still looking at a giant hole in my backyard,” said Lopez, whose story seems to resemble that of other homeowners throughout the Las Vegas region.
The Trickle Down Effects
The pool and spa industry is just one of many industries affected by this crisis. John Schiegg, VP of Supply Chain Services for Houston-based home builders David Weekley Homes, said he’s seeing shortages and price increases on everything from siding to adhesives to insulation. After winter storm Uri, several PVC manufacturers reported to Schiegg they would be unable to meet their contractual obligations. Schiegg said he was surprised to hear distributors in other neighboring states were impacted as well.
New York based Confer Plastics, manufacturers of pool ladders, steps, and spa accessories; said they would be unable to deliver products planned or scheduled. They’ve already been forced to layoff 40 employees. Vice President Bob Confer said he’s never seen a situation like this in his 47 years in the industry. Confer Plastics is far from the epicenter of the Texas freeze but is still experiencing the long range ripple effects as are many other manufacturers throughout the pool industry.
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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