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Q: Economic health of swimming pool industry ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Economic health of swimming pool industry
Category: Business and Money > Economics
Asked by: infopros-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 25 Sep 2003 08:22 PDT
Expires: 25 Oct 2003 08:22 PDT
Question ID: 260106
cath-ga preferred because of previous research in this area. I would
like to know how swimming pool sales of all kinds, pool chemicals,
pool toys, pool equipment and/or pool services are doing in this
economy. I don't expect a complete answer because the question is so
broad, but phone calls to people in the business and in the trade
associations would be a huge plus.

Request for Question Clarification by cath-ga on 25 Sep 2003 09:46 PDT
Dear infopros,

thanks so much for asking for me! Would you like me to include
the swimming pools themselves, or just ancillary products and
services? Also, do you want above ground and below ground
pools? I'll get on the research today, so any extra information
about what you need will help. Thanks again!! cath-ga

Clarification of Question by infopros-ga on 25 Sep 2003 10:37 PDT
I am trying to get a handle on the amount of pool related "activity"
this year and how it related to last year and what it is likely to
look like next year.
Your previous work in this area indicated that you had been able to
establish good contacts within this industry.  I am not interested in
anything Wall Street related.
I will take any evidence you can dredge up, factual or anecdotal,
national or regional, above ground or below ground.

Hopefully this provides you with more "color"

Feel free to ask more questions or provide any interim reports as you
feel like it.

Request for Question Clarification by cath-ga on 25 Sep 2003 12:51 PDT

do you want me to include pool construction and design also? cath-ga

Clarification of Question by infopros-ga on 25 Sep 2003 14:54 PDT
Yes, that would complete the picture, I believe.

Also, if you happen to come across anything that addreses whether the
membership clubs and mass merchants sold more pool related merchandise
this year versus last year or are gaining market share or plan to
expand their pool supply offerings, please pass that along.  It would
probably be grumbling from the normal pool supply people channel and
would be more anecdotal.

Request for Question Clarification by cath-ga on 25 Sep 2003 16:00 PDT

Thanks. I have lots of calls and e-mails out. They should respond
soon. cath-ga

Clarification of Question by infopros-ga on 25 Sep 2003 20:49 PDT

Request for Question Clarification by cath-ga on 29 Sep 2003 15:43 PDT
Hi infopros,

my sources are straggling in. I've got good answers from three,
should get two more tomorrow, and hope to reach the 6th on Wednesday.
Thanks for being patient. We're discouraged from providing partial
answers, but if you're in a hurry, let me know, and I'll see
what I can give you on Tuesday. cath-ga

Clarification of Question by infopros-ga on 30 Sep 2003 07:29 PDT
That is fine. Looking forward to your findings.

Clarification of Question by infopros-ga on 02 Oct 2003 08:06 PDT
Can I get an update,please?  Thanks.

Request for Question Clarification by cath-ga on 02 Oct 2003 09:43 PDT

sorry for the delay. The folks who were supposed to be in on Wednesday
now should arrive today, Thurs. I will contact them, and give you
your answer today. Are you in a rush? Does the time of day
matter? cath-ga
Subject: Re: Economic health of swimming pool industry
Answered By: cath-ga on 02 Oct 2003 14:53 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear infopros,

thanks for your patience!

Jack Cergol, Chief Staff Executive  for the National Pool and Spa 
Institute says that he doesn’t have figures yet for 2003. However, 
last year (2002)the pool manufacturers saw between 8-10% growth. 
This year, so far, he’s getting anecdotal evidence that  sales have 
been soft. This is attributed to all the spring  rain in the
and Midwest and South. But sales seem to have picked up lately, 
starting in August. And you can still build pools in the south and 
southwest all through the winter.  So he’s not saying for sure 
that this year will be worse than last. Also, since 911, people 
are traveling less and staying  home more. So the pool industry has 
probably benefited from that because “people look to their home to 
be that vacation place.”

To get any idea of how the softening in new pool sales affects
other sectors of the pool industry, Cergol gave me the total
number of in-ground pools in the U.S.: 5 million. Then the
number of new pools built in 2001 was 240,000, and the number
of pools built in 2002 was 270,000. So there was a difference
between those two years of 30,000 pools built. As Cergol
says, if there are 30,000 less pools built this year, the impact
on the other sectors (chemicals, toys, service, etc) will be 
probably be “negligible.’

Cergol says, “On the hot tub side, sales have grown between 
8-12 percent every year. That’s an incredible industry.”  He 
thinks the emphasis lately on health, staying home, and family 
togetherness will continue to contribute to healthy hot tub & 
pool sales. He thinks that the pool buyer demographic is skewed 
higher than average, and a little less vulnerable to economic 
pressure. (The hot tub owner is about average, and above 
ground pool owners a little bit lower. The demographic research 
he has, however, is from 1997, and will be repeated soon.)

As for your question about mass marketers and club stores,
Cergol says he doesn’t know if their pool chemical sales are
taking away from the pool specialty stores. He says that
more and more mass marketers ARE selling hot tubs. But he says
that’s not eating into the specialty hot tub retailers because they
provide a full-service type of security that consumers like. 

The National Pool and Spa Institute is the umbrella association
for all the pool industry trade people, manufacturers, service,
chemicals, et. You can find them at:

National Spa & Pool Institute 
2111 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22314 
Phone: 703-838-0083 Fax: 703-549-0493

I spoke with a Mike Miller, a manager for a wholesale spa buyers
group in San Diego. He had a gut feeling that while
mass market stores and club stores have grown “slightly”
in their share of the spa and supplies industry, it has not been 
“dramatic” growth in recent years. He says where they
take over the market is where they take over every market
and that is with the price-conscious lower end consumer. He
has not noticed any big losses among his retailers to the
big stores, certainly it would be under 10% if he had to

Mike Miller 619-282-6800

Richard Lamotte, Vice President of Marketing for Lamotte company 
(one of the top three in pool testing), was very forthcoming. 
He just got back from a distributors’ conference in Monterey, 
California. There were 16 companies there (representing chemicals, 
and other pool products.) He said he felt his company was fortunate 
to be doing FLAT business, because everyone else there was hanging 
their heads. He saw figures that one of the largest chemical 
suppliers is down 10-12% this year.

The cause of the slowdown that he cites, along with everyone else,
is the weather. Manufacturers were not able to start their spring
building in the NE, the Midwest and the South because of all the
rain.  Many of them lost contracts. The large in-ground pools saw
“not much growth,” but were able to start up in August. The above
ground pool business “dropped like a rock.”  One small businessman
usually sells about 12 of those above ground pools a season. 
He only sold 6 this year. This is consistent with Cergol’s comment
that the above ground buyers are more vulnerable to economic

Lamotte says that the weather affects testing more than the economy
does. Many homeowners didn’t even open their pools this year ‘til 
July 4th, so they weren’t testing ‘til then. Public pools, which 
must test 3-4 times a day, remained closed too. 

Lamotte said everyone at the conference was trying to get stores to
make “early buys” to bolster their 2003 numbers. He said the 
distributors were “cautiously optimistic” about next year, 
believing that the chance of two bad weather years is unlikely.

Richard Lamotte, VP of Marketing
800-344-3100 (within the U.S.A.)
410-778-3100 or 410-778-3101

Charlie MacDonald, of FME Public Relations, does PR for Biolab, which
is the world’s largest manufacturer of pool chemicals.
He agrees that the weather has hurt Biolab’s business this year. The
company is “still profitable, but has not met it’s projections for the
year.” Cold weather has cut down on the “bather-load,” and kept pools
closed. Rain has also kept people out of the pool. Less people 
in the pools means the pools need to be sanitized less. While Biolab 
is “still profitable” this year, “sales are off projections.” 
He said energy costs are up this year, and for manufacturers, that 
also cuts into profitability.

BioLab Water Additives
P.O. Box 30002LawrencevilleGA 30049-1002USA
Region:	Americas
Fax Number:	+ 678 502 4724
Telephone Number:	+ 678 502 4699+800 600 4523 extn. 4242
Email Address:
In general, MacDonald says that the pool chemical industry is somewhat
resistant to economic downturn, because people have to keep cleaning
the pools they have. And if they can’t afford to travel, they can stay
home and use the pool. But slowdowns in new pool construction 
will eventually hurt the chemical business too.

Dave Dickman is editor of Pool and Spa Service Industry News. He says
he has not gathered figures for market size for this year compared
to last. But he does know how pricing is doing. He says that after
of steady increases, pricing is staying flat this year. In Southern
the average pool man is charging $75 dollars a month for full service,
(just like last year) and in Florida and Northern California the
price is $90 a month (like last year.)  He says pool service is so
spotty and seasonal in the rest of the country, the figures can’t
really be trusted. He has
no way to predict next year’s industry health, since he doesn’t have
figures on market size yet.

Pool and Spa Service Industry News, Editor and Publisher David Dickman
e-mailed him at:


PKData is the market analysis company that does the research
for the National Pool and Spa Institute. I spoke with Loren
Brown, who was very helpful last time we spoke. However,
now he is requesting that you contact him directly. Most of
their information is proprietary, and available for a charge,
including the 2003 U.S. Residential Swimming Pool and Hot Tub Market 
Report just out.

The website is at:

Brown’s e-mail is:

Costco Wholesale Products (the club store) had the rosiest 
report to give me of anyone. David Greek is the buyer for
sporting goods (including water sports) for the corporate
office in Issaquah, WA. He told me that the Pool and 
Spa division, which sells chlorine and pool supplies, above ground
pools, and spas, was up 33% for 2003 over 2002 (their
fiscal year ends Aug 31). The Water Sports division, which sells
inflatable pools, goggles, wet suits, pool floats, and pool chairs, 
was up 28%. (Even with all the bad weather.)So he’s very confident 
in predicting that next year will show the same increases. 

Greek says Costco has been selling pool products ever
since it has been in business, but he says he doesn’t
know whether it’s conclusive whether they are taking
market share away from the pool specialty stores. He says
they are not competing directly because they don’t sell
the full breadth of product that specialty stores sell.
In chemicals, for example, they only sell chlorine, 3” tabs, 
HTH granular, and Sockit.
Costco Wholesale Corporation
999 Lake Drive
Issaquah, WA 98033 

Finally, pool toys!  Cindy Lopez is the Marketing Director of Sevylor,
Inc. which is the largest distributor of inflatable pool toys in
the U.S. 

She says the bad economy has hurt the pool toy industry “a little.”
She says her industry and her company were affected right after
9/11- even though people didn’t travel, they were very cautious 
about spending  the first year. However, since then, “it’s been a 
progressive upswing, “ as “people  are looking for inexpensive ways 
to have recreation.” She says, “I think we’re going to have a 
better year this year.”

SevylorŪ Inc.
Corporate Office
6651 E. 26th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90040
TEL: 1-323-727-6013
FAX: 1-323-726-0481
General E-mail:
Marketing/Advertising E-mail:

I tried to talk with Leslie’s Poolmart, Inc, the nation’s largest 
pool supply company.  The spokesman there declined to talk.
The latest figures I could find on the website indicated that Leslie’s
had 3.8 percent growth in 2002.

While I was on hold with the National Pool and Spa Institute, I heard
a recording that held an interesting fact. The President’s Council on
Physical fitness and sports reports that swimming is the number one
sport in the country. 100 million people a year participate in
With that kind of popularity, the pool industry does not seem likely
to go under!!.

I hope these several “snapshots” from various companies gives you
the kind of overall picture you wanted of the health of the
swimming pool industry. If anything is unclear, please press
the “clarify answer” button, before you rate my answer.

Take care,
Google Answers Researcher

search strategy:

pool industry growth
pool manufacturers
Pool toys

Clarification of Answer by cath-ga on 06 Oct 2003 08:52 PDT

thanks so much for your kind words, and the very generous tip.
What a great customer! cath-ga
infopros-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $100.00
Excellent effort.  This was the type of work I was looking for. Thanks.

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