Pool Magazine - Volume 3 - Issue 2

Page 52


Paolo Benedetti of Aquatic Technology




Luxury is in the details. The architectural aesthetic of the award-winning Autograph Chaise will be the finishing polish on your most prestigious projects. The Good Design Award is similar to the Academy Awards of product; it is one of the most distinguished accords in product design. This accomplishment recognizes over 10 years of in-pool furniture design and partnership with builders, designers, and tradespeople like you.

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This season as we plunge head first into the dog days of summer, it becomes easier and easier to see how vital and important the pool industry is. All around the country from coast-to-coast homeowners are realizing the benefits of pool ownership and enjoying the unique privilege of being able to enhance their families lives with a swimming pool.

Yes, this time of year certainly demonstrates how the men and women of the pool and spa industry truly are the unsung heros of summer. Those who are out in the trenches building and servicing pools should take it as a point of pride that they’re collectively responsible for allowing so many people to enrich their lives with a product that truly brings families together.

With that said, from all of us at Pool Magazine we’d like to take a moment to acknowledge your incredible efforts to elevate the industry by providing outstanding quality, service, and support to your customers. Each and every time you go above and beyond, you create ambassadors who will propel the message that owning a swimming pool has enormous value.

In our latest edition of Pool Magazine we have assembled some terrific content you won’t find anywhere else. As we continue to grow, we’ve had so many incredible people contribute their time, energy, and support. It’s allowed us the kind of exclusive access that enables us to bring you the very best from around the industry and this issue is certainly a testament to that. From profiling a pool builder who exemplifies what it means to hone one’s craft to the highest level, to highlighting an individual who against incredible odds became a driving force that would forever change the pool industry; we’re dedicated to bringing you stories that educate and inspire. With that, I sincerely hope you enjoy this latest issue and wish you the very best this summer has to offer.

Warmest Regards,

Founder, CEO & Editor: Joe Trusty

President, Associate-Editor: Marianne Trusty

Director of Marketing/Sales: Carol Gigliotti

Contributing Editor: Marcus Packer

Contributing Editor: Alise Everton

Production Editor: Sarah Wambua

Cover Photo Credit: Jimi Smith Photography

In-House Photographer: Jimi Smith

Contributing Writers: Jerome Pedretti

Joe Vassallo

Kelli Clancy

Trex Protect

Advertisers: Aqua Blu Mosaics, Aquamatic Cover Systems, CamerEye, Diamond Spas, FSPA, Furrion, GENESIS®, Hayward, Ledge Lounger, Natural Chemistry, OnDeck, Pentair, Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, Pool Industry Expo, PSP Deck Expo, Rock Solid Tile, SKIN, Tenjam, The Outdoor Plus, Tieleman Pool Technology, Viking Capital

Editor’s LETTER
POOL MAGAZINE - PO BOX 278 - Pilot Hill, CA 95664 www.poolmagazine.com | info@poolmagazine.com
We Build Better. *When sold by a Totally Hayward® Partner. Exclusions, other terms and conditions may apply—visit hayward.com/expert for details. Hayward, Hayward & Design, the H logo, Expert Line, SmartPower, Totally Hayward and We Build Better. are registered trademarks of Hayward Industries, Inc. © 2023 Hayward Industries, Inc. 3+ YEAR PARTS & LABOR WARRANTIES* NOT SOLD ONLINE ® Scan QR code to learn more. SMARTPOWER TRANSFORMER Add personality to your pool with four zones of lighting control from one transformer. The possibilities are endless with custom color combinations across pool, spa, water features and landscape lighting. Colors and light shows can be set to match your mood, party theme, favorite sports team and more! No high voltage relays or additional transformers required. the ultimate theme setter. 4 ZONES OF LIGHTING 1 TRANSFORMER . We Build Better. *When sold by a Totally Hayward® Partner. Exclusions, other terms and conditions may apply—visit hayward.com/expert for details. Hayward, Hayward & Design, the H logo, Expert Line, SmartPower, Totally Hayward and We Build Better. are registered trademarks of Hayward Industries, Inc. © 2023 Hayward Industries, Inc. 3+ YEAR PARTS & LABOR WARRANTIES* NOT SOLD ONLINE ® Scan QR code to learn more. SMARTPOWER® TRANSFORMER Add personality to your pool with four zones of lighting control from one transformer. The possibilities are endless with custom color combinations across pool, spa, water features and landscape lighting. Colors and light shows can be set to match your mood, party theme, favorite sports team and more! No high voltage relays or additional transformers required. the ultimate theme setter. 4 ZONES OF LIGHTING 1 TRANSFORMER



A recent study prompts “fake news” from mainstream media about pool owners.


06 10


Jimmy Reed analyzes a costly pool tile failure and explains what went wrong.


We interview Tal Thevenot, President and Principal Designer of AquaTerra Outdoors.

08 12


Paul Porter explains exactly how he started the world’s larget pool company.



BBQGrills.com is positioning for success with an exciting new domain acquisition.




Kelli Clancy explains a new pool industry training program geared towards women.


For 3 decades Ludivine Perrin-Stsepaniuk’s career has been centered around pools.

22 28


We take a look back and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Polaris brand.


Read a one-on-one interview with industry thought leader Paolo Benedetti.

24 34


Blake Swanson use pencil jets to create dramatic water features in the pool.




A quick reference guide for everything you need to know about pool decking by Trex.


After four decades Aquamatic Cover Systems continues to set the bar for covers.




Our 2023 pool furniture buyer’s guide features the hottest new products.

Our spotlight on pool automation technology focuses on The Attendant.


A look back at the Esther Williams brand and role of the traveling pool salesperson.

38 42


Holly Waldhauer is stepping outside her comfort zone in order to take her skills to the next level.


Find out how new department of energy regulations may impact your business.

48 40 44


Jerome Pedretti of Pentair explains how today’s pool consumers are looking for energy efficient and sustainable solutions.


Relax, The Rich Aren’t Using THE WATER FOR POOLS

A recent spate of articles have hit mainstream media suggesting that pool owners are responsible for water shortages in major cities throughout the world.

Arecent story that went mainstream in media outlets puts the pool industry in a rather negative light. It discusses a study published in the journal Nature Sustainability that highlights what it considers the impact of the wealthy population’s excessive use of water in urban areas. While the study focused on Cape Town in South Africa, the authors suggest that their findings are relevant to other cities with high inequality, including those that have faced serious water shortages due to droughts and overconsumption in the past two decades. The

article mentions cities like Miami, Mexico City, Sydney, and London.

New Study Puts Pool Owners In The Crosshairs

The study, which used interviews and focus groups to model water consumption, found that the two wealthiest groups of residents in Cape Town were responsible for more than half of the city’s water consumption, despite representing less than 15 percent of the population. Most of their water usage was attributed to watering their gardens, filling their swimming pools, and washing cars.

While the article acknowledges that the study’s findings are relevant to other cities with high inequality, it does more to generate negativity about swimming pools than it speaks to direct instances of where this may be occurring in the United States.

In general, outlets like the Washington Post picked up the story and ran their version with a byline “Rich people’s swimming pools are fueling water crises in cities”, which is not even remotely accurate. The story was also picked up by Time, NBC, and many other news sources.


Certainly, the news the last two previous years discussed the implications of a drought plaguing California, but after a winter of tremendous rains and snowfall, more than half the state is now free from the drought. Most experts agree that we’re in a much different place than we were a year ago and are no longer in a drought. In fact, according to the most recent studies, there are no areas of the state of California currently impacted by severe or extreme drought.

While there is an ongoing drought in places like Kansas and Florida, the only U.S. city the study cited was Miami, which is ironic because the city of Miami is not currently affected by severe drought. The fact is, when this type of news goes mainstream it can have potentially negative implications and socio-economic impact on the pool industry.

An article in Fortune cites the Nature Sustainability study and leads with the fact that a drought in the Colorado River Basin threatens the water supply of seven states. Well, California is the biggest consumer of that water, most of which is earmarked for irrigation and that has very little to do with people filling their swimming pools. As mentioned, California is no longer in a drought, so this should greatly mitigate that water usage.

Let’s look at the facts. Pools actually are a very important part of our society. The swimming pool market was valued at $3.18 billion in 2022. The workforce this industry employs comprises over 50,000 pool construction workers and over 92,500 in the pool service profession in the United States alone (IBISWorld – 2023).

Swimming pools have been shown to increase the value of a home by up to 7%, homes with pools sell on average for an additional $28,945. Putting in a swimming pool rather than a lawn is actually a smarter way to save water according to Stanford Magazine who said, “If you’re interested in which uses less water, the answer is quite simple: a pool. A lawn requires 0.6 gallons of water per square foot each day, compared to 0.3 gallons for a pool.”

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Mainstream media outlets are trying to project the image of wasteful pool owners using more than their fair share of water.
Photo Credit: United States Navy

Jimmy Reed On Preventing GLASS TILE FAILURES

When it comes to the installation of pool tile, few others in the industry have the wealth of experience and know-how that Jimmy Reed of Rock Solid Tile possesses. His innate ability to create stunningly beautiful tile interiors has helped propel him as one of the leading installers working today.

As a recognized expert on the subject, he also knows a few things about adhering to the proper methods and best practices. Consequently, a recent video he posted on social media has generated quite a stir among other contractors and highlights why certain pool tile failures occur.

To get a better understanding of exactly what went wrong in the video, we caught up with Jimmy Reed at the Western Pool & Spa Show in Long Beach to get the full story as well as pick his brain about how to prevent failures.

“This particular project we actually originally bid to perform the installation on several years earlier. It was for a completely different general contractor and pool builder at the time,” explained Reed.

“I was called onto the project by the newer owner, and therefore, a new general contractor and owners rep and so forth. It was a completely different team by the time I was revisiting the

project. What happened with the project though was it was failing throughout. The short little clip in the video really only showed a small portion of the spa, but that was consistent throughout the entire pool not just the spa,” said Reed.

In the video, you can see him pulling large chunks of tile off with his fingers with a minimal amount of effort. This was a disastrous failure where the pool tile had not properly bonded and was retaining water.

“The thin-set is soft and gooey. It’s a modified thin-set,” said Reed, explaining why this particular failure occurred.


“It probably wasn’t cured right. There are ridge marks everywhere. They didn’t knock down the ridges in the thin-set so they probably didn’t get 100% coverage. There’s only probably 50-60% coverage on the back of the tile. The thin-set didn’t bond to the concrete. That’s the bottom line,” explained Reed, “I don’t even see a waterproofing membrane. It looks like they applied thin-set directly to the float.”

Analyzing a Catastrophic Failure

Failures of this nature can be enormously costly. “This was a fairly large free-form pool up in Beverly Hills, a little bit above Sunset, so it was in a hilly area. This pool had probably between 2,000 and 2,500 square feet of tile material that, of course, had to be completely removed. Let’s say it’s 2,500 sqft. That would be close to between $50,000 and $75,000, just for materials; and then labor for doing something like that would depend on the installer.” said Reed.

No matter what the client ultimately paid, it would appear from the catastrophic failure witnessed in the video, that it was too much. “The mortar bed was completely saturated and delaminating from the shell as you can see in the video which was just the tile layer peeling right off. There was literally no bonding between the thin-set and the substrate,” explained Reed, “all I had to do was use a screwdriver that the contractor that was there provided me with. It just opened right up and gushed out water that it was holding behind all the tile.”

“Visually they saw bubbles. When you pushed on the bubbles, air would come out of these big lumps in the tile surface. All you had to do was push on it and things would start flying around. It was pretty bad,” remarked Reed.

“As I recall, there was no evidence of any waterproof membrane. That also tells me that there definitely wasn’t any type of colloidal silicate sprayed on the surface. The float that was applied looked to me to be very uneven and not laid out properly and it was just a very sloppy installation process from what I saw. There were grooves throughout and a lot of trail notch marks below the surface of the pool tile itself. You want to avoid that type of thing,” said Reed.

Because Reed sees so many failures in his line of work, we asked him where pool tile contractors could learn the proper methods of installation. “As far as the correct process, I mean, there’s a whole list of steps that goes into that type of installation from the shell out. It’s unfortunate that there aren’t a lot of places that I know of that specifically that train and walk contractors through the proper steps to do a full application,” said Reed.

“I believe Watershape University is working on something at the moment, and I may be participating with them in the near future. Also, Ask The Masters is a really good forum for professionals to inquire and share. But like any other learned trade, mentorship and experience is critical.” said Reed.

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One-On-One With Designer TAL THEVENOT

Tal Thevenot, the founder and principal designer of AquaTerra Outdoors, is a visionary in the field of pool and backyard design. With a passion for all things outdoor and a keen eye for detail, Thevenot has built a highly successful business that creates award-winning outdoor living environments. Based in Carrollton, Texas, AquaTerra Outdoors has made its mark in the field of high-end custom backyards and continues to set the bar for many firms throughout the industry.

Recently we had the opportunity to catch up with Thevenot on the Pool Magazine podcast. He first came to our attention a few years ago after one of his incredible over-thetop projects, a Roman bath house, was highlighted on HGTV and featured in Luxury Pools. During the course of our conversation, we discussed his process for connecting with homeowners on designing their ideal outdoor living environment. Thevenot indicated that when working with homeowners on a design for the space, the discovery process goes well beyond

simply understanding the site, the scope of work, and what they want their backyard to look like.

“We always have a lot of questions for them about their lifestyle. We want to know how they want to live, relax, and play outdoors. It’s all about making that connection so we can begin to understand what they’re looking to accomplish,” said Thevenot, who indicated that the key is understanding their overall vision and using that as a foundation to create a personalized and customized outdoor living space.


Thevenot says he has observed a growing trend among clients who draw their inspiration from travel photos in order to conceptualize their dream backyard oasis. Whether it’s the magic of Disneyland or the laidback vibes of a Caribbean island, clients are eager to try and recreate the essence of places that have resonated with them. According to Thevenot, it’s about bringing that resort lifestyle into their own backyard.

“Inspiration photos are always great. We have a huge portfolio for them to look through and to give us different ideas of what they like and more importantly, what they don’t like. From there, we start the conceptual design phase and begin presenting ideas to them,” said Thevenot.

Exactly how long that process takes varies according to the customer. “With a lot of our clients surprisingly, there’s very little going back and forth. Sometimes we’re able to just dive into what their vision is. Then there are other projects where there’s a lot of back and forth going on. I’d say more times than not our final design ends up close to that preliminary concept design,” said Thevenot.

Certainly no stranger to building custom luxury pools, Thevenot says quite frequently, consumers are looking for guidance on what is hot and trending. “Right now the open concept is huge. Minimizing boundaries from interior to exterior. We are trying to merge and blend the lines between the indoors and outdoors so there isn’t any strong separation of space as far as tying structures together,” said Thevenot.

“Last year we had a project in University Park with a large water wall, big slide house, and rain curtain. That’s one actually incorporated into the foundation of the house where we had to merge the structures together with the basement and the pool,” explained Thevenot.

For Thevenot, inspiration seems to come from many sources. He states that some of his best projects are when he has the opportunity to collaborate with designers and architects that are breaking the mold and setting new style trends.

“As far as collaboration in the pool industry or even the landscape industry, it’s really just Randy Angell. He and I are very good friends and he’s an amazing designer. I love working with him. We also collaborate with a lot of architects, so quite a lot of our projects are new construction,” said Thevenot.

“We are being brought into the project early for the landscape architecture approach and designing along the side of the architects and collaborating with them and the interior designers as well,” said Thevenot.

“Once they’ve engaged a good interior design firm, I really like to get involved with them and talk about our vision and their vision. It gives us an opportunity to discuss color palettes, look at color theory throughout the home, and of course, the furnishing package inside, what’s that look like? What’s the style going to be? How do we really merge these spaces and make it feel like a continuation again, going back to minimizing those boundaries from interior to exterior,” explained Thevenot.

Thevenot’s firm has received a lot of attention as of late, racking up award after award for their inspired and meticulous approach toward designing stylish contemporary outdoor living environments. Not being one to sit there and count their laurels, Thevenot said that AquaTerra Outdoors will continue to push the envelope.

“We’ve got some amazing and exciting projects we’re working on now. So we’re just going to continue to do what we do. We want to grow each day, each year advancing as a team and individually in our craft. There are some amazing builders out there but we want to be one of the leaders within the industry that others can look up to so we can help grow the industry as a whole,” said Thevenot.

POOL MAGAZINE - VOL 3, ISSUE 2 13 Read the entire article...

How Paul Porter Built The World’s Largest POOL COMPANY

Paul Porter, CEO of Premier Franchise Management, connected with us on the Pool Magazine podcast to discuss how he built the world’s largest pool company.

Paul Porter is the CEO of Premier Franchise Management (PFM) the largest pool company in the world. The firm he first founded with Keith Harbeck in 1988 as a single office in Sacramento, has grown to a nationwide franchise with several subsidiary brands. Today Premier Pools & Spas have locations across the country. Consequently, they’ve grown into the largest pool construction franchise in the industry. Its sister brands, Pinnacle Pools & Spas, Premier Pool Service, and Pinnacle Pool Service help comprise over 175 offices coast to coast. In addition to running PFM,

Paul Porter appeared on three seasons of the hit cable tv show Pool Kings co-starring with his son Brian Porter. Together, they traveled all over the United States building one over-the-top resort-style pool after another while at the same time working to propel Premier Pools & Spas as a household name in the minds of consumers.

Recently I caught up with Paul Porter after the Pool & Spa Show in Atlantic City and had the opportunity to interview him on the Pool Magazine Podcast. In the course of our conversation, he opened up and shared details about his journey. Suffice it to

say, his story is one that is truly remarkable.

Pool Magazine (PM): Paul, your story is a unique American success story. I’m eager to try and get you to share some of that with us today.

Paul Porter (PP): I think I relate so much to the pool industry because so many of us have a humble beginning. We don’t have the necessary college pedigree.

For instance, there is no college that graduates pool builders. We all learn through osmosis and really I was no different than anyone else.


I grew up with a single mother on welfare and the only reason I share that is that when you’re just trying to survive in the world, you really have no idea what you’re going to do after school. My idea of people owning a pool when I was growing up is that only rich people own swimming pools. When I had an opportunity back in the mid-eighties to go to work for a pool builder, I thought I just hit the jackpot.

My first experience in sales was selling vacuum cleaners door to door. You get ten doors slammed in your face before you get one person that wants to let you in the house. This is the first opportunity I had of selling anything where somebody actually said, you know what I’ve been dreaming about a swimming pool for years and years and I’d like to have you come into my home and show me what you can do to create and fulfill my dream. All I had to do was convince them that I was the right person to shepherd their dream and that I had a better value proposition.

Before I started Premier Pools, I worked for another pool company where I was doing really well. They asked me to go and open up an office for them in another area so I went into the San Francisco Bay area and started building pools. In nine months, I became the largest pool builder in that marketplace.

One day I got a call from my boss Ed in Sacramento and he said, ‘I need you to come in, the business is in trouble.’ At the time, I’d been in Antioch, California for nine months. We had a home and were building a pool. I was doing really well, but he held the license.

He said, ‘I’m done. I’m either going to close down the business or you

can come in and try to pull this thing out.’ So we put our house up for sale and moved back to Sacramento. We sold our house and got $70,000 equity. That was more money than I’d I’ve ever had in my life and maybe some folks can relate out there. My boss at the time said, ‘Paul, you have been so doggone loyal that I’d like to sell you some stock in the company. Matter of fact, I’d like to sell you 10% of the stock.’’

I’m sure you know as well as everybody else does how the next part of the story goes. He sold me 10% of the stock for the $70,000 on my life savings at the time. I thought, here’s this kid from the wrong side of the tracks, raised by a single mother, gets an opportunity to do something he loves and gets an ownership stake in the business. So I went ahead and did it. His company at the time was about $250,000 in debt and we started paying back the debt.

We bought a house in Folsom and started building pools in my neighborhood. I actually had about 18 pools going in my neighborhood at the time. One day Keith Harbeck and I showed up to work and there was a paddle lock on the front door. Ed was gone. He left in the middle of the night with my life savings.

PM: You must’ve felt incredibly defeated at that point. What did you do from there?

PP: We really didn’t know what to do at that time. I had 23 pools in construction. I think the company had around 50 or 60 pools in total. The people that I thought were rich at that time, I realized they weren’t rich, they were just hardworking people. All their life they had dreamed about pool ownership and I saw the anguish on their face

when I said the company was going out of business.

We saw their dreams being dashed and we decided we had to figure out some way to make those customers as whole as we possibly could. So Keith and I did everything we were capable of doing for no charge to try and finish these pools and managed to get every single pool finished in ten weeks.

I remember thinking as people were pounding on my door in the middle of the night, yelling through the door, ‘We’re going to kill you!’, I asked myself how can this be? At the time, I was only 27 years old. How could I be so stupid to trust somebody that much? My wife was at the time nine months pregnant with our third child and we’d had our cars repossessed right out of our driveway.

Keith came up to me one day and says, ‘Paul, what are you going to do now that we finished all these pools?’, and I said, ‘You know what, I cannot leave on this note. We’ve got to do this right.’ We had a responsibility to our employees. I actually had to borrow $50 at the time from my mom.

My wife drew a picture of a pool on a flyer and we went down to Kinkos and got 5,000 flyers. Keith and I and the rest of our family started passing out flyers door to door. We did that for two weeks, going out every day, 8 hours a day. Finally, on the third week, we came home and our answering machine was blinking that red light.

I showed up and went through the presentation. He liked what he saw and then he asked me, do you have any referrals that I could talk to? I said, ‘No, not anyone who would say anything you’d like to hear.’


He said, ‘Do you have any pools you can show me?’, I said, ‘Probably not too many people want me in their backyard right now.’ I said, ‘Here’s the deal. This is my story and nobody needs to work harder for you. Nobody understands what you’re looking for more than I do. If you want to pay the subcontractors directly, this is the price that you pay. This is how much money I’m going to make on this.’

He looked at me and said, ‘You know what? There’s something about you that I believe and I trust. I’m going to go ahead and give you the job’. I think way back then in 1988, the pool was around $15,000. It was a small pool, but it was everything to this guy. To say that we exceeded expectations would probably be the understatement of my life.

We did everything we possibly could to make sure that he was pleased. We said, we’d build a pool in six weeks and completed it in three. He was delighted. Fortunately, the next-door

neighbor saw what we did and hired us to do her pool. The third pool we built was for a swim coach at the local high school, and he sent us 13 jobs. That was 35 years and about 100,000 pools ago.

By 2003, we were doing over $100 million a year in business in Sacramento and then the Great Recession hit us in 2008. We went without a salary for two years. Through that period of time, we just borrowed against our houses and did whatever we could do to hang on to every employee we possibly could.

In 2010 the market began to recover a bit. Keith and I kind of just looked at each other and said, ‘We made this, how do we want to finish our career?’ I saw so much plight in that period and we lost 70% of our industry during that timeframe.

So many people that had put their entire lives into the industry had to leave because they had only themselves to rely on. There were so many things that I had

learned from the previous 20plus years I had in the swimming pool industry. I learned how to survive by making sure that we had visibility of our numbers to have an efficient business. I realized that the industry had to transform. Mom and Pops were going away and you had to consolidate just because you had to create scalability.

I just thought that this was a great opportunity to start consolidating the industry. To help out existing pool builders as well to elevate the experience for the customer simultaneously. In 2010, I started licensing, and I just started knocking on doors and calling people. I told them what we were doing and explained to them how with consolidation we could stand together shoulder to shoulder and that if we had a commitment to creating a great experience for the customer that the consumer was ready.

PM: When did you switch from a licensing model to a franchising model?

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PP: In 2014, we started to roll out our franchise model. Again, it was a model that most people in the industry weren’t very familiar with or why they needed it.

The franchises we brought on saw a tremendous amount of success. So many of our guys had been in business for a long time. I always tell the Jeff Boyer story (owner of the Premier Pools & SpasTemecula franchise). His family was in the business for 30 years and was only doing $500,000 a year in business. Today, Jeff’s doing $30 million a year in business with us because he’s adopted not only the philosophy of our organization but the contributions he brought to it.

As a collaborative group, we figured out ways to scale. We knew how to do it because we started in our garage and grew that to a $100 million dollar business. Along the way, we taught builders how to scale their businesses, how to recruit people, how to bring on salespeople, schedulers, and construction people, and then how to fix their costs so that they could afford those things.

PM: Is that when you started to get mass acceptance in the industry?

PP: The more that the industry saw that we were growing, the more acceptance we had in the marketplace. We grew that for the first seven years to about 45 or 50 offices.

About three or four years ago, we started to go out into the marketplace and find business people. We said it’s more important that we look for people with character and business acumen. We could teach them what we know, and our business started to grow.

From 2016 through 2017, we added about 70 new franchises and in 2021, we opened up another division called Pinnacle Pools. That division was going to be part of our franchise business that just focused on fiberglass pool construction. In the last two years, we brought on 22 Pinnacle franchises.

We wanted to complete the experience with the customer. We spent all this time creating a

relationship with the customer. What we wanted to do is support what we sold. So two years ago we started a pool service division. We wanted it to be dynamic, not just somebody that took care of the maintenance of the pool but someone protecting that experience and associated with the builder. We’ve been doing that for two years, and now have 35 Pinnacle and Premier pool service companies, and we’re growing those pretty quickly.

Because of scalability, we generated $750,000,000 in revenue last year. Now we can afford to do these things at scale and give our people a better presence and also offer them things like sophisticated websites and brochures, as well as continuous onboarding and training cycles through our system.

Ultimately, what we’re doing, is we’re trying to build a generational business. We’re trying to make sure the brand means something to the consumer when they look at that brand it stands for quality, integrity, value, and is something that they can trust.


PM: Your franchisees are highly profitable and have a dominant and visible presence in some of the largest pool markets. What kind of growth has your organization seen over the past few years?

PP: We’re growing at about a 40% clip a year right now. So we were up $250,000,000 in revenue last year. You would think that would be from some of these bigger markets, but it’s actually from some of the secondary markets. That is what is so extraordinary. We have so many people that achieve the highest level, and they have tenured, longterm staff there, and they continue to grow and create market share each and every year. Sacramento alone did $130,000,000 of business last year between Sacramento and Modesto. Over 1,300 pools, just absolutely extraordinary.

PM: We look at your map now and it appears that there is a Premier Pools or Pinnacle office in almost every state in America. How much bigger can you get?

PP: We think we have a lot of opportunity. We think that our roadmap leads to about 500 Premier and Pinnacle franchises and unlimited service franchises.

We think there’s an opportunity for hundreds and hundreds of service franchises and a need for consolidation.

PM: Do you feel like this is something that you could extend to places outside of the United States into maybe countries like Canada, Mexico or maybe even Australia?

PP: Well, we’re going into Canada this year with the new brand, Premier was too generic under Canadian trademark law. We’ve already licensed and we’re moving into Canada this year.

We’ve set our sights on Australia and Mexico and a few other places, but we have to duplicate the process and we think we have a real opportunity with fiberglass to go global. That’s something that we’re going to focus on.

PM: Starting at the beginning of 2022 we began to notice a shifting trend in consumer behaviors heading out of Covid. How is your organization best positioned to weather a changing market?

PP: We were up actually in 2022. I know that the industry as a whole was down 20 plus percent. It was a pretty devastating fourth quarter, but we ended up actually with our best year ever. We drew a lot of leads, over 130,000 last year.

Leads this year are more expensive. We’re driving more people to our website, but it’s not converting. We’re actually driving actually about 33% more people to our site, but we’re converting 40% less. Clearly, there’s still a desire to own a swimming pool, but right now, because lack of conviction or confidence in the marketplace, they’re not converting to a lead and they’re not getting estimates. I think a lot of this has been because consumers have heard that pools have risen to over $70,000 a pool. I still believe the desire is out there so what we’re trying to do is reach the customer in different ways.

Read the entire article...

We Ask Ryan Maltbie... WHAT’S IN A DOMAIN?

In the competitive world of online retail, particularly in the pool, spa, and outdoor living sectors; brand recognition plays a crucial role in success. One entrepreneur who understands this well is Ryan Maltbie, the founder of BBQGrills.com, an online retailer specializing in barbecue grills and outdoor kitchen accessories. Maltbie recently made a strategic move by acquiring the domain name BBQs.com, which he believes will further propel his brand to new heights.

In our recent interview, we discussed the significance of domain names in the online retail market. William Shakespeare didn’t put much stock in a name when he said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” However, Maltbie argues that in today’s digital world, a domain

name can make a significant difference in brand recognition and success.

Maltbie shared that his business BBQGrills.com has been operating for over three and a half years and has experienced tremendous success in the e-commerce space with its current domain name. He believes that the domain name has played a pivotal role in elevating his brand to its current level of success.

“I would single-handedly state that a domain name is probably the most predominant way of having a successful e-commerce business. Without it, if you don’t have something that’s either trendy, something that is easily rememberable something that’s easy to spell, it’s going to be incredibly difficult. I couldn’t imagine doing the business that we are at this level with Ryan’s Outdoor

Kitchens.com. It wouldn’t work,” said Maltbie.

However, Maltbie didn’t stop there, he said acquiring the shorter domain name BBQs.com was a strategic move to further enhance his brand’s online presence and solidify its position as a leading online retailer in the barbecue sector.

There are a multitude of companies who are willing to pay a premium for punchy, brandable domain names. Hotels.com sold for $11 million in 2001. New emerging technologies like Nfts.com sold for $15 million in 2022, demonstrating that brands are willing to pay handsomely for the exact domain they want. Even Elon Musk paid $11 million back in 2014 to acquire Tesla.com. So clearly, that old Shakespeare quote isn’t very relevant in the online sector.


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Brands are often willing to pay top dollar for the domain they want due to the significant impact that a domain name can have on their online presence and brand recognition. Just like in Ryan Maltbie’s case with his acquisition of BBQs.com, a relevant and memorable domain name can help establish credibility, build trust with customers, and drive traffic to a website.

A domain name that accurately reflects a brand’s identity or niche can help establish professionalism and authenticity, which can be crucial in gaining the confidence of online shoppers. It’s also true that a memorable domain name can help drive traffic to a website.

A short and relevant domain name, like BBQs.com, is easy to remember and can be typed directly into the address bar, increasing direct

traffic to the website. It can also be more shareable and memorable in marketing efforts, such as wordof-mouth recommendations or social media mentions, leading to increased brand exposure and website visits.

Furthermore, a premium domain name can also provide a competitive advantage over other brands in the market. In today’s crowded online landscape, having a unique and memorable domain name can help a brand stand out and differentiate itself from competitors. It can also prevent potential customers from being confused or directed to a competitor’s website with a similar domain name.

Lastly, domain names can also hold intrinsic value as digital assets that can appreciate over time. Just like real estate, premium domain

names are finite resources, and acquiring one can be seen as a long-term investment. Brands are willing to pay top dollar for a domain they want because they see it as a valuable asset that can contribute to their overall brand equity and online presence, potentially resulting in higher sales and revenue in the future.

The acquisition of BBQs.com is certainly a testament to the importance of domain names in the online retail sector. A memorable and relevant domain name can establish brand recognition, help drive traffic to a website, and potentially lead to increased sales. In the case of BBQGrills. com, the acquisition of BBQs.com is expected to further solidify its position as a leading online retailer in the barbecue sector and open up new opportunities for growth.

POOL MAGAZINE - VOL 3, ISSUE 1 23 EXPO: November 13-15 (Mon - Wed) CONFERENCE: November 10-15 Las Vegas Convention Center | West Hall More info at: POOLSPAPATIO.COM Save THE DATE PSP/DECK EXPO 2023 EXPO: November 13-15 (Mon - Wed) CONFERENCE: November 10-15 Las Vegas Convention Center | West Hall More info at: POOLSPAPATIO.COM Save THE DATE PSP/DECK EXPO 2023

Pool Girl Pro Industry Training TO THE RESCUE

PGP (Pool Girl Pro) Industry Training

Wall-to-wall automation controls from Fluidra, Hayward, and Pentair lined the Folsom Eagles Lodge walls in preparation. After a while, a woman’s voice announced that training would begin. The snap-to-attention allowed one to hear a DPD tab drop. This was the beginning of the hands-on training session on wiring automation that quickly gained the attention of the manufacturing giants. What made this event a focus for the “Big 3”? This long overdue

Group is creating a network to help empower women in the pool industry.

initiative in continuing education tackled a grossly underserved niche head-on.

In a predominately male industry, only 9% of pool technicians in the United States are women (Zippia. com, September 2022). In sectors such as education and manufacturing women are the majority, but in this field, female pool contractors and service techs are still the minority.

Despite full-time careers and entrepreneurship; we’re not given a pass on the culturally

expected duties of being a woman, such as juggling children, spouses, and household management.

These added responsibilities, combined with a societal view that still leans toward women being less competent in skilled labor trades, make the traditional means of gaining education even more of a challenge. Sadly, women in co-ed environments often feel intimidated by their male peers. Not all, but a few wet tablets can make an entire bucket stink at a meeting.


Janet Reed and I formed PGP for just those reasons. All people, regardless of gender, should be free of ridicule in asking basic questions regarding technical installation, operation, and troubleshooting. With a primary focus on hands-on training, Janet and I strive to ensure those goals are met for those who find an all-female attendance more conducive to education.

PGP Industry Training Group had its first in-person, hands-on, allwomen training in January 2020 at Leisure Supply Sacramento. This was right before the pandemic hit. Eight women from the Sacramento Area, Bay Area, and Central California attended a Fluidra-led training session on automation controls, variable speed pumps, and pool sweeps. During this first inaugural session, we noticed many men embracing a program that two women had developed. We welcomed them with open arms and exclusion was a nonissue. Many responded excitedly, supporting a group that their wives and daughters could attend to boost their skills without fear of harassment.

During the pandemic, PGP was fortunate to continue offering in-person, hands-on training and webinars. We reduced the seat numbers during that timeframe to follow local social distancing regulations but provided live streaming of the events for those who could not attend in person. The streaming option allowed our group to reach more women across the country than ever before.

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Over the past couple of years, PGP events evolved to include networking and mentorship. The ladies would talk amongst each other at each in-person training, and afterward, in social settings, we would go out to dinner with presenters. This afforded us the opportunity to talk shop, family, and discuss life with each other and the vendor support system. This began the infield assistance network our group members enjoy today.

Finally, after three years, PGP is able to offer women-taught training. Our in-person and online attendees are learning the basics of wiring and automation control subpanel. They leavie our comprehensive program eager to employ those new skills in the field.

Pool Girl Pro Industry Training Group is currently in the process of becoming

a non-profit organization. The 501(c) (3) status will permit us the ability to provide additional quality educational opportunities, an increased number of training locations, and even more ability to support the advancement of women in the industry. Ultimately, we want to provide quality educational opportunities, more in-person training locations, and support women’s progress in the industry.

Women can join PGP Industry Training Group on Facebook, where they can find training announcements, educational posts, and a place to ask questions when needed. To connect with women who they can consult and support on an international level. If you would like to join the group or get involved, you can find them on Facebook or email pgpindustrytraininggroup@gmail. com

“I love the option to attend a virtual women’s training and gain knowledge from other women in our industry! It’s a great experience to be surrounded by other confident and determined women!”

Lindsay Brown, Oasis Pool Management, Florida.

W W W . P O O L L O A N . N E T 9 0 4 - 6 8 6 - 1 7 0 2

Water is Ludi’s Life POOLS ARE HER STAGE

In this issue, I am honored to introduce you to my dear friend and business associate, Ludivine “Ludi” Perrin-Stsepaniuk, President and Creative Director of Ovia Entertainment, an aquatic-centric production and training company in Las Vegas, NV. Affectionately known as Ludi, she is an accomplished aquatic performer, synchro competitor, choreographer, and coach.

For over 3 decades her life and career has been centered around pools. Her aquatic achievements grow more impressive every year. One of Ludi’s latest feats is being cast as an aquatic stunt performer in the mega hit AVATAR: The Way of Water. Her journey to that role is quite storied.

We first meet in 2017, when she graciously agreed to participate in Paragon Pools’ Float Like A Duck water safety PSA “Learning to Swim, led me to…” series. The videos in English and Spanish were created to inform and inspire youth about exciting adventures and career opportunities one can enjoy from learning how to swim.

The PSA’s showcase a wide range of individuals and groups from around the Southern Nevada community who credit their path to personal growth, success, and accomplishments in sports,

academics, and careers from learning to swim. For Ludi, that declaration is extremely meaningful, learning to swim wasn’t just a stepping stone- it became her life’s stage. “I feel learning to swim saved my life… it has guided me through my life.”

Born in Nimes, France in 1984, Ludi began swimming at age 2. “I took lessons at the local public pool,” recalls Ludi. “When I was 4, my parents had a pool built in our backyard. It was very deep, I believe the shallow end was around 5 feet, this required me to tread water and swim constantly.”

“My sister Virginie was 9-years older and a synchro swimmer, I looked up to her and she inspired me to join the sport. In those days, typical synchro swimmers were very tall with slender long legs. I didn’t fit that profile, I was more petite, but my sister told me that synchro could be my ticket out of our hometown. If I worked hard then everyone would want me on their team.”

At age 6, she joined the small synchro club where her sister swam. Her love for the aquatic sport magnified when she attended “Sirella” the first French water show starring French Olympic medalist Muriel Hermine.


Ludi’s hard work paid off, at age 12 she was recruited to swim for one of the top clubs in Aix-en-Provence. Following numerous national titles, Ludi moved to Paris to swim with the senior national team at INSEP where she competed for 2 years and earned national titles.

“It taught me to work hard for what I wanted, work hard and anything is possible.”

Ludi moved to Belgium in 2004 where she joined the creation team of Le Reve, an aquatic themed show created by Franco Dragone and choreographed by Guiliano Peparini. In 2005, she was part of the opening cast at the Wynn Las Vegas and performed nightly with the show for 10 years, totaling over 5,000 performances.

Ludi’s talents earned her the position of synchro team captain in 2012. In this role, Ludi excelled.

“I really enjoyed training new performers, coaching castmates, and getting an opportunity to choreograph sequences. I knew I could do it and I wanted to be more

in control. This is when I decided I wanted to be my own boss.”

2016 was a turning point for Ludi, she was named Head Coach to the Nevada Desert Mermaids (NDM) synchronized swim team and founded her company Ovia Entertainment. A highly soughtafter performer and choreographer, Ludi and her Ovia performers have been featured in TV, films, commercials, and music videos, as well as in print.

“I feel like I really developed every aspect of what you can do with water. I love creating, coaching, and teaching swimming.”

As a pool designer/builder when I’m traveling or visiting someone with a pool, my instinct is to analyze the pool, how it was designed, constructed, and how well its maintained. When you come upon a pool how do you assess it?

“My teams and I have performed in pools across the globe. The first thing I do if its coaching, performing, shooting, whatever, is put my hand in and check

the temperature. Any synchro swimmer will do that- you check the temperature, because that will tell you how your day is going to go. The warmer the better, especially when you spend 12-hours in it, the ideal water temperature is 89 degrees.”

“Then, I check the chlorine level and water quality, these are very important. In my sport, we don’t wear goggles. In a highly chlorinated pool, we won’t be able to work as long. Alternative sanitizers are much better. For any visual jobs such as shooting underwater for a movie, commercials, photos, or music videos the clarity of the water is also important.”

“The next thing is I look at is the design and shape of the pool. I like to use the whole set-up, to highlight the entire pool for the client. I ask about the depth of the pool, if we can use the water features, where the audience will be standing, and determine where the performers will enter the pool. I also confirm they have working lights.”

For evening performances, we need lights for safety. But I love it when we can have different colored lights because it really adds to the mood of the choreography. It makes it look more like a stage. The tag line for my company is Transforming Pools into Magical Liquid Stages! We always feel so lucky when we have a beautiful pool because it’s our stage.”

You mentioned safety earlier, what are some of the safety elements that you look for to ensure your synchro teams and performers are safe?

“If it’s an evening performance, working underwater lights are critical. We need it to see the interior and sides of the pool, as well as spot each other. But it’s especially important when we are doing acrobatics in the water.”

“In 2015, while I was still performing in Le Reve, the French National Synchro Team wanted to come to Las Vegas to do a camp, and they asked me to be their manager.”

“I contacted the local synchro team, the Nevada Desert Mermaids

(NDM) for advice and help on renting pools, sound systems, and organizing the activities.”

Ludi has also been a part of USA Synchronized Swimming since 2016, starting as a guest coach and graduating to the level of Head Coach for a number of teams.

“I was head coach for the USA Junior National Team for the first ever Junior Pan Am Games in Columbia held in 2021. We won the first ever gold medal presented in the Games and finished with a total of 7 medals. Then, I was named Head Coach of the USA Artistic Swimming Youth Team for the FINA World Youth Artistic Swimming Championships in 2022.”

Created for Wynn Las Vegas, Le Reve was set in a unique aquatic theater-in-the-round stage. The 27’ deep swimming pool had a capacity of more than 1 million US gallons and housed moving stages and props, longline regulators, underwater cameras, speaker systems, fire elements, and an scuba crew to assist the performers.

“It was hard to believe it at first, it was like a dream. I always had

to work so hard as a competitive athlete but with Le Reve it felt so natural. They liked my style and that boosted my confidence.”

Is there any advice you would like to give to pool builders when it comes to functionality of a pool.

“Using non-slip deck tiles around a pool and the use of alternative sanitizers. I also prefer entry steps in the pool instead of ladders. I love wet decks, it adds so much more character to the pool, and I use them in my shows. I also love the look of the infinity edge. Lastly, underwater sound systems would be a huge plus in pools.”

You have already hit some major highpoints, what does the future hold for Ludi?

“I have a few dreams. I feel accomplished when I’m really a part of the project, where I have more control, because that’s who I am, I like to lead, I like to have a say in it. I would love to expand my creative side, to create aquatic stunt segments for motion pictures, and to develop an aquatic themed show in Las Vegas.”

30 POOL MAGAZINE - VOL 3, ISSUE 1 Read the entire article...
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Celebrating 50 Years Of Innovation WITH POLARIS

Polaris is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The brand has been a pioneer in the pool cleaner industry since its inception. Over its 50 years of existence, Polaris has established itself as a household name, providing reliable and efficient cleaning solutions to pool owners worldwide.

To mark this milestone, we spoke with Greg Howard, the former CEO and President of Polaris Pool Systems (1986-2004), and Skye Svenningsen Director of Product Marketing for Fluidra North America. Both shared some insights about the brand’s history and discussed the key factors that have contributed to its success. During our discussion, we delved into the history behind Polaris

and talked about some of the key milestones that have helped make Polaris a trusted name in pool cleaners.

Today, Greg Howard is the President of Carecraft, a leading buying group for the pool industry. He still has fond memories of his Polaris days and shared the origin of how the brand first got its start.

“There were two people who invented the original Polaris, Mel Henkin and Jordan Laby. One was a dentist and one was an anesthesiologist. For the initial prototype, the two of them took Coke cans and rubber bands and fashioned them into a little car that would walk around on the bottom of a pool and it had a bag on the top that kind of looked like a chef’s hat,” explained Howard.

Polaris made its first initial debut at the 1973 National Swimming Pool Convention in Anaheim, California. The product immediately captured the interest of the pool industry and would quickly find itself in competition with the Arneson Pool Sweep which had a predominant share of that nascent market at the time.

“The idea was that it was the first pool cleaner that could vacuum and sweep. The Arneson product was just hoses in a pool. It stirred up the water, and you still had to lift a basket out to empty the debris. Ours was the first product that actually vacuumed and swept, hence the name Polaris VacSweep. It took a team of engineers two years to take those Coke cans and turn it into a working pool cleaner,” said Howard.

Actress Suzanne Somers was the official spokesperson for the Polaris Vac Sweep.

Howard said he still remembers the days going head to head with the Arneson Pool Sweep who at the time had golf legend Arnold Palmer as their spokesman. Not to be undone, Polaris would recruit bathing beauty Suzanne Somers, star of the hit sitcom Three’s Company, as their spokesperson.

“She was on all of our packaging, and she was in our ads,” said Howard, “she also came on our incentive trips with us. She would sit by the pool and sign autographs and talk to the customers. Suzanne Somers was a big part of our

marketing,” explained Howard.

Back in the 80’s, the Polaris 180 would become the defining product the brand would eventually become known for.

“For the first ten or 15 years of the company’s life, it was the only product that we had,” explained Howard.

“We literally built an entire company around a single product until there were additional ones brought on later,” said Howard.

Polaris, was acquired by Zodiac Pool Systems in 2005 which would later merge with Fluidra. “Currently the Polaris brand has dozens of pool cleaners in every category. They have suction cleaners, pressure cleaners, electric cleaners, and now cordless cleaners. They’ve really expanded the line. But yeah, we started with one product, and it took us quite a while to add a second, a third, and a fourth.”

Today, folks like Skye Svenningsen look at the Polaris brand with a mix of nostalgia and optimism for the future that lies ahead.

“There’s a whole lot behind us that has really led to Polaris as a brand being known in our industry the way that it is today,” said Svenningsen, “after 50 years, the spirit of our company, the innovation, passion, and drive to make something new and great for our users is still at the core of what we do every day.”

“It all started with the 180, which of course was the main product and then the Polaris 280 VacSweep, which remains as a product that people still rely on today. Technology and things may have changed, but we created a product that truly has stood the test of

time. I’m really proud that some of the innovations that we made way back then still are relevant today. In 2017, we introduced the Polaris QUATTRO™ Sport into the industry, which was a new way to look at pressure cleaning with dual filtration canisters. We’re not sitting on our laurels around here waiting. We know that consumers are looking for the next big thing and we’re going to bring it,” said Svenningsen.

“Consumers today expect most of their new products to have an app and give them some information about their cleaner or their product,” explained Svenningsen,

“with the iAquaLink® control in some of our robotic products, you’re able to set a cleaning cycle, start it from work or while you’re on the road, and ensure that your pool is clean by the time that you get home. We’re able to do a lot of things that we weren’t able to do historically.” Today the Polaris brand is synonymous with the latest technological innovations in pool cleaners. “We’ve absolutely evolved and brought new products to the market, “said Svenningsen, “the ALPHA™ iQ platform and our EPIC™ platforms have been very successful for us. We have put a lot of engineering and marketing support behind these products.

34 POOL MAGAZINE - VOL 3, ISSUE 2 Read the entire article:

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Setting The Standard PAOLO BENEDETTI

Pool Magazine goes one on one with pool industry expert and thought leader Paolo Benedetti.

Paolo Benedetti has built a reputation as a thought leader in the field of pool construction. As the President of Aquatic Technology in Morgan Hill, CA, Benedetti has worked on his fair share of luxury pools and spas. In addition to running a successful pool construction firm, he splits his time as an educator and expert witness. Consequently, he’s become one of the most well-regarded technical experts working in the industry today.

Recently we had the chance to catch up with Benedetti while he was teaching a class for Watershape University at the Everything Under The Sun Expo. Always giving of his time and expertise, we met before he was scheduled to teach a packed classroom of pool builders who had come to Orlando to learn from one of the masters.

Pool Magazine (PM): Can you give our readers a bit of background and information about how you first got started in the swimming pool industry?

Benedetti has built an incredible reputation as a leading expert in the field of pool construction.

Paolo Benedetti (PB): I had a contractors license already and bought a pool service company from a guy that was retiring. So I instantly kind of fell into 300 accounts in the Silicon Valley area. Some of the service company clients wanted to have their pool remodeled, so I went and got my C53.

PM: What was the very first pool you built?

PB: The first pool I built was in 1995. That was a $350,000 perimeter overflow pool. I sold the job and then it was a challenge to figure out how to do it. That’s how I hooked up with Genesis to begin with. They just taught the very first class down in Morro Bay. My engineer heard about it and he recommended it to me and said “You’ve got to go to this pool school that this guy just set up on infrastructure. There’s nothing else like it in the industry. I went there and actually hired Skip Phillips to kind of mentor me through my first project.

That first pool was for one of the founders of a big semiconductor firm in Silicon Valley. We ended up finishing that pool in about eight months. Afterwards, my wife and I were invited to a black-tie cocktail party at their house. The principals of Intel were there and it was really just a who’s who of Silicon Valley on the guest list.

I was watching all the guys out around the pool where we had installed the very first two laminars from Crystal Fountains. We had actually the betas, and we used them on that job. Well none of these guys had ever seen laminar fountains before that night and here’s this pool with these glowing green streams. They were standing out there in tuxedos, straddling the stream, pretending they were peeing. It was the funniest thing you ever saw. Man, I wish I had a camera back then but this was way before smartphones. We were a hit. I handed out probably a couple of dozen business cards of that cocktail party, and there was no looking back.

PM: Sounds like your career kind of snowballed from there.

PB: It did! We decided from there we were going to start divesting ourselves as a pool service company and started focusing more on construction. Now, we pretty much average anywhere from four to six projects at one time because they take sometimes more than a year to build.

PM: You travel all over the world now building pools and are really racking up the frequent flyer miles

PB: Exactly. Right away people were asking me, would you mind taking over this project in Montana? Would you mind doing this project in Hawaii? We were kind of starting to travel all over to deal with projects.

My friends in college think it’s really glamorous because I get to travel all over the place. Truth be told, it’s actually kind of boring because you’re traveling by yourself. You’re eating meals by yourself. It can get a little lonely at times.


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PM: You’ve been called one of the best designers in the industry and you’re a mentor to maybe hundreds, if not thousands of builders.

PB: I like to pride myself on my accessibility. People call me all the time, and say ‘I took your construction class and I’ve got a question about something’. So I’m more than happy to mentor people. In a couple of weeks, I’m going back to North Carolina to mentor a guy who’s doing his first knife edge pool.

I kind of fell into a very modern, clean, and contemporary style, which I think is probably one of the most difficult architectural styles to build. My projects are usually architecturally integrated with the home. It’s usually one and the same with a free-flowing, kind of indoor-outdoor lifestyle where it’s really a seamless transition between the architecture of the inside of the home and outside living space.

PM: That’s really what high-end homeowners want.

PB: Yes, exactly. So I don’t like that if you build a house and then you

did this crazy thing in the backyard. I could do those but it would just look tacked on. I’m not one of those guys who if a client wants to do a fire feature, I’m not going to go through a catalog and pick something that’s in distribution. We’re going to go have something custom-made for that job.

PM: This latest project has some incredible elements, where the backyard itself has this dramatic kind of elevation.

PB: Yeah, it has a very dramatic slope. Originally they came to me and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this hillside. We want to put a pool on it.’ So we said absolutely. We ended up building the pool on top of an extension of the foundation of the home.

PM: What we really love is how amazing this pool looks day or night.

PB: It’s really cool yeah. During the design phase, the client was really concerned about color. The only way that I can guarantee somebody that the pool is going to have a particular color is tile. We ended up choosing tile out of Canada, a fused glass from

Interstyle. What’s neat about them is they have a myriad of colors and textures. So they’ve got probably eight or ten different textures from little wavy surfaces to little bumps. They’ve got all kinds of surface variations that you can get.

PM: The lighting on this pool is incredible, too. We love the starfield kind of look and feel that you managed to achieve.

PB: Thanks. The fiberoptic starfield on that project was the first time I’ve done one in a glass tile pool. We didn’t want to have to drill holes in the glass tile, so we had to come up with a methodology of being able to align the fibers to come up between the grout joints of the tile. My tile guys were very patient. We obviously complicated things for them extra with dealing with the starfield. We had 300 little fiber optics coming out of the floor so as they were setting the sheets of tile we were pulling the fibers through the grout joint and then going back and detailing between the tiles with the thin set being careful not to damage the fiber optics.

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Pencil Jets Create a Dramatic WATER FEATURE FOR YOUR POOL

Pool builder and instructor Blake Swanson says using pencil jets are a great way to introduce a subtle and sophisticated water feature to pools.

If you are looking for ways to take your swimming pool to the next level and create a visually stunning and exciting water feature, look no further than pencil jets. They’ve become a popular choice among pool owners who want to add a touch of elegance, a dramatic visual effect, and the soothing sound of flowing water.

To learn more about the benefits of pencil jets and how they can transform your pool, we sat down with pool contractor Blake Swanson, of Premier Pools & Spas in South Bay, CA.

With years of experience in the pool industry, Swanson is a seasoned pool builder and instructor known for his innovative designs and creative use of water features. According to Swanson, pencil

jets are an excellent option for pool owners who want to elevate the aesthetics and functionality of their pools. He shared his insights on how this particular water feature can enhance your pool and create a unique experience for swimmers.

“It’s a cool design feature we offer our customers that just want a simple zero-level pool with no raised walls and water features. Usually, you’re kind of limited on water features when it’s a zerolevel pool. So we try to get creative with deck jets and arch descents that go under the coping,” said Swanson.

“Typically coping overhangs about an inch and a half or an inch. Pencil jets are basically just small little cylinders with a hole that kind of comes up 45


degrees out of it to create a stylish water feature. Essentially it’s a deck jet that fits underneath the coping, so it’s a little more incognito. They’re great because you’re not walking across a deck jet or seeing a hole in your deck to create that water feature,” explained Swanson.

Swanson posted a demonstration of a completed project in the “Ask The Masters” group on Facebook, where pool contractors often share new techniques, showcase their work, and ask questions from seasoned veteran pool experts.

“I’m always a big fan of adding subtle things where it’s not in your face when you have a zero-level pool with maybe a spa inside of it. On this style of pool, you’re looking for a nice clean sheet of water. Pencil jets are optimal here because you see them when they’re on and you don’t when they’re off,” said Swanson.

“Whenever I do a zero-level pool, I try and offer that to homeowners, especially when they have kids. This type of water feature gives the pool a little bit of character,” explained Swanson, “but it’s more of an aesthetic choice of trying to create ways where you can add water features without making them noticeable when not in use.”

One reason they’re becoming a more popular water feature is the ease of installation. Consequently, Swanson says that it’s incredibly simple to retrofit a pencil jet water feature into an existing pool if you have the right know-how.

“If you’re going to do a pool renovation in your backyard this is a good feature to consider adding, especially if you’re redoing coping or any plumbing,” said Swanson.

“Obviously you want to get the plumbing back to where the pump is and use three-quarter inch pipe or one inch depending on how you want to do it and reduce it down. You want that pipe to come just underneath the coping and it’s just like plumbing any new return lines, you’re not even really coring any holes so it’s actually a much simpler process,” said Swanson.

Because of the ease of installation, pencil jets are becoming increasingly popular with builders like Swanson, who claims that installation of this type of water feature is pretty straightforward.

“Installation is easy and it should really only take a day or two. Plumbers run the pipe, stub it out, and then whenever the tile and coping guys are doing their work, you need to make sure they cut the pipe and put the fitting on. Pencil jets really only reveal past the coping. You want to try to do it maybe like a quarter inch or a half an inch so that it’s not really enough for someone to step on and break off. Once it’s embedded underneath the coping just make sure that when you install it you can still unthread it,” explained Swanson.

“Think if you took a soda can and turned it on its side and you just drilled a hole at a 45-degree angle on top and then fed water through it so that it’s only coming out at that one point. You just adjust the flow to how far it’s going to spray. How much water you send to that pencil jet is going to be how far it goes,” said Swanson.

While there are a variety of different products available on the market, Swanson says he recommends Pebble Technology Arched Pencil Jets. “Our rep came in with this product very early on to us and we’ve just stuck with that brand ever since,” explained Swanson, “I think it’s like three to five gallons per minute needed. So you can do tons on a pool, depending on the size of the pump and other water features that you do on it. Pencil jets can certainly be done in conjunction with other water features as well.”

“I will tell you one thing though, always look at the manual and documentation. I would never tell anybody to install anything without looking at the install manual and what rating they are. If you’re installing in conjunction with other water features, you want to make sure you know the gallons per minute each water feature requires and that the size of your piping and your pump are adequate enough to accommodate that,” said Swanson.


Everything You Need To Know ABOUT POOL DECKING

Pristine pool decking perfectly complements a gorgeous in-ground pool and makes your backyard look picture-perfect.

It doesn’t matter if you’re building a new pool or remodeling your current one. But don’t neglect your pool decking in the process!

This guide breaks down everything you need to know to improve your pool decking, from the best materials to essential maintenance services.

First, let’s clarify the difference between pool decking and pool coping. Many people use these two words interchangeably, but they’re not the same.

Pool coping is a stone or concrete

cap that runs along the edge of the pool. It’s the top of the pool wall and is no bigger than 12 inches wide.

Pool decking, on the other hand, is the much larger area that extends past the coping and surrounds the pool. It’s where you place lounge chairs, tables, etc.

Unlike pool coping, made only from stone or concrete, pool decking can be made from a wide range of materials. The following are some of the most popular options:


Concrete is a durable, waterresistant, and inexpensive pool decking material. It’s also more versatile than many people realize. After it’s poured, concrete can be

brushed or stamped to enhance its appearance and give it a more stylized look.


Wood is another well-known and low-cost option. It has a nice, classic look, and you can choose from many different finishes to find one that works best with your backyard and personal aesthetic.

The biggest downside to wood is that it requires a great deal of preventative maintenance to protect it from moisture and avoid common issues like rot, color loss, cracks, and shrinkage.

Composite Materials

Composite wood is an excellent alternative for those who like the look of wood but not the maintenance.


Composite wood is made from a combination of wood scraps, ground wood particles, plastic, and binding agents. However, it looks just like natural wood.

Composite is an excellent choice because it’s highly durable and won’t splinter, rot, or fade. It is more expensive than regular wood, though.


Stone is a popular and stylish pool decking material. They’re highly durable and require little maintenance. They also come in many sizes, shapes, and colors, so it’s easy to use them to customize your pool deck. It’s important to note that the more stylized your stone choices, the more expensive they’ll likely be.


Pavers are stone or concrete bricks arranged in an interlocking pattern around your pool—layer pavers on top of a stone or sand base.

Pavers are good alternatives to concrete because they’re less likely to crack or shift. They’re easier and less expensive to repair, too.


Travertine pool pavers are definitely a luxury material. Travertine pavers are popular for a variety of reasons. They’re simple to repair and reseal, and with proper care, they can last for decades.

Travertine is naturally textured, making it non-slip and suitable for poolside use. Because it is a porous stone, it dries quickly and drains well even when wet.


Last but not least is tile. Tiles come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. Some tiles even resemble brick, wood, or marble.

Many people choose tiles as their preferred decking material because they’re easy to install. Many have self-adhesive properties as well and can easily stick to multiple surfaces.

After you’ve chosen the material for your pool decking, the next step is to start planning the installation process and fine-tuning the design elements.

Don’t jump the gun and start digging in your backyard before you first call the local utility companies. Placing a few calls won’t take very long, and it ensures you don’t encounter any buried lines while building or updating your pool decking.

Some communities have specific rules for pouring concrete in certain areas. Make sure you have proper approval to install or renovate your decking first. That way, you won’t get hit with any fines halfway through the project.

A solid foundation is essential to a high-quality pool deck. Make sure you have an appropriate base that works with your desired material. Otherwise, you might end up with an uneven surface or other issues later.

Do you want a square or rectangular pool deck, or do you prefer a curved shape? Both options look great, but curved decking is usually more expensive than straight lines.

Some pool materials — including concrete, brick, tile, and pavers — require a slight slope to ensure proper drainage.

If you’re building a new pool deck or remodeling an existing one, you can invest in certain services that make it more enjoyable and increase its longevity.

Don’t want to burn your feet on the deck during the hot summer? Use a spray or cool deck coating to beat the heat.

One of the greatest threats to the life of a wood deck is water damage. Often this occurs below the surface where you cannot see or regularly apply protective coatings. One of the best preventative measures is to apply butyl tape to the bottom side of the deck boards.

Read the entire article...

2023 Pool Furniture BUYER’S GUIDE

If you’re looking to create a stylish and functional outdoor living space around your swimming pool, then investing in quality pool furniture is a must. Pool furniture not only enhances the look of your outdoor area but also provides a comfortable place for you and your guests to relax and soak up the sun. However, with so many different types, styles, and materials available, choosing the right pool furniture can be a daunting task. Consequently, we’ve assembled a complete buyer’s guide to help you select and purchase the perfect pool furniture for your backyard.

Pool furniture and patio furniture both serve completely different purposes and are designed differently for their respective applications. To clear up any ambiguity about the subject, pool furniture is specifically designed for use around and in the pool. It is made with materials that can withstand exposure to water, chlorine, and sunlight without damage or deterioration. Pool

furniture, unlike patio furniture, is also designed to be comfortable when used in a wet environment. In-pool furniture is often sleek and modern in design, and may include features such as built-in cup holders, storage compartments, and adjustable reclining positions.

When purchasing in-pool furniture such as chaise lounges and chairs, there are several factors to consider to ensure that you are making a wise investment. Frank Vitori of AquaBlu Mosaics, a leading online retailer, has the following suggestions for consumers who are shopping for in-pool furniture this season.

“One of the primary considerations when selecting in-pool furniture is the material it is made of. Resinbased materials like polyethylene are excellent for this purpose as they can withstand exposure to water and sunlight without deteriorating quickly,” explains Vitori.

“Additionally, resin furniture comes in various styles, making it easy to find a design that matches the rest of your outdoor decor.”

“Another important factor to consider when shopping for inpool furniture is ergonomics and comfort. Since you will be spending time lounging in your pool, it is essential to choose furniture that is comfortable and supportive. You want to be able to relax and enjoy yourself without having to worry about discomfort or back strain,” recommends Vitori.

“Furthermore, in-pool furniture should be easy to clean and maintain. Today’s resin furniture is known for being relatively lowmaintenance which is an added advantage. It is crucial to select furniture that can be cleaned with minimal effort, allowing you to focus on enjoying your outdoor living space,” said Vitori.

Those who are shopping for pool furniture need to familiarize themselves with the leading brands. Pool Magazine has done the homework for you and put together a list of the top rated and most popular brands chosen by consumers.

Read the entire article...

Ledge Lounger leads the pack on our list and for good reason, we’re in love with the stylish and contemporary design of their premium Autograph Chaise Lounges. They’re an exceptional addition to any pool deck. These high-end luxury lounge chairs are designed with a contoured shape that maximizes comfort and provides a luxurious pool experience. Suitable for all types of pools and work well for shelf depths up to 12 inches. www.ledgelounger.com


New to our list this year is Tenjam’s Shayz in-pool lounge chair. This product is a game-changer for poolside relaxation on deeper pool shelves. Designed to provide the ultimate pool experience, Shayz offers the perfect spot to unwind and bask in the sun. With its unique customdesigned risers, it can be submerged in up to 17 inches of water enabling you to enjoy a refreshing dip while reclining in a deeper pool setting.


The Destination Lounger is lightweight yet strong. Tried, trusted, and reliable, S.R. Smith has created a product that remains a favorite among consumers. A sure way to upgrade your poolside experience is with S.R. Smith’s Destination Lounger. Designed for ultimate relaxation and comfort, its elegant design and sturdy construction make it the perfect addition to your inground swimming pool you’ll enjoy for years to come.


Another newcomer to our list is Vondom. If you’re looking for a unique and comfortable outdoor lounger, look no further than the Surf Sun Lounger, designed by renowned global designer Karim Rashid. The wave-like modern design adds a sophisticated, sculptural element to any outdoor space while also providing maximum comfort. Made from high-density resin, this commercial-grade lounger is designed to be used in up to 12 inches of water. www.vondom.com


A top seller and another favorite among consumers is the Kai Shelf Lounger by Floating Luxuries. Designed to fit tanning shelves at least 66 inches long, this in-pool lounger is the perfect addition to your backyard oasis. Constructed of durable UV20+ rated material, the lounger is designed to withstand 20,000+ hours of direct sunlight. Made from chemical-resistant materials, this lounger is safe to use in saltwater or chlorine pools.



Aqua Chairs In-Pool Chaise Lounger offers a stylish modern design at an attractive price point. Ergonomically designed lounge chairs that provide maximum comfort while tanning. Made in the USA with high-quality resin, these chairs work great for shelf depths up to 9 inches. Simply submerge them in the pool to fill the chair with water or use a garden hose to fill them on their side. Once filled, they will not float away.



The Traveling Pool Salespeople OF ESTHER WILLIAMS

The traveling pool salesperson was a staple of the American landscape during the early 50s to mid-70s. Back in those days, summertime was synonymous with fun in the sun, and owning a swimming pool was the ultimate symbol of a luxurious, carefree lifestyle.

The swimming pool sales rep was the person who brought that dream to life, bringing the latest innovations in pool design and technology right to your door.

After World War II, the United States was booming and swimming pools became

increasingly popular as a way to beat the heat and enjoy time with family and friends.

Advances in materials and construction methods made it possible to build pools that were both durable and affordable, and people began to see pools as an investment in their own quality of life.

Named after the famous actress and swimming star, Esther Williams Swimming Pools were some of the most well-known and respected pools on the market. The company was known for its high-quality pools and innovative designs, and its

traveling salespeople were the face of the company, spreading the word about the latest in pool technology and design.

Pool Magazine recently procured a traveling pool sales kit from Esther Williams Swimming Pools from 1959. The kit included a number of samples of pool decks, as well as a detailed brochure that outlined the latest in pool construction and design. This sales kit was a testament to the pride that the company took in its products, and it’s clear that the traveling salespeople of Esther Williams Swimming Pools were well-trained and knowledgeable about the products they sold.


Esther Williams Swimming Pools were originally made by the International Swimming Pool Corporation in White Plains, New York. This company was at the forefront of pool technology, and it was responsible for many of the innovations that made pools more accessible and affordable for the average homeowner. The company was known for its use of high-quality materials and construction techniques and led in the development of new designs and features.

For the traveling pool salesperson of that era, selling a pool was more than just a transaction. It was a chance to help families create their own little slice of paradise right in their own backyard. The salesperson would visit a potential customer’s home, survey the property, and listen to the family’s needs and desires. Then, using the tools in his kit, he would help the family envision their perfect pool, customizing the design to suit their needs and tastes.

Of course, selling pools wasn’t always easy. The salesperson had to be a master of persuasion, able to overcome objections and close the sale. But for those who were successful, the rewards were great. The traveling pool salesperson was often seen as a respected member of the community, and they were well-compensated for their efforts.

Today, the art of pool sales has changed dramatically. While the traveling salesperson is still a part of the industry, the methods of selling pools have evolved to keep pace with advances in technology. A pool designer now presents a 3D design concept and virtual walkthrough to help clients visualize their ultimate backyard, and the use of computer-aided design (CAD) and virtual reality (VR) has made it easier than ever to see what a pool will look like before it’s even built.

Despite these changes, however, the essential purpose of the pool designer remains the same. They still play a vital role in helping families create the backyard of their dreams, and remain a symbol of the American spirit of innovation and progress.

DOE Pool Lighting Regulations

New Energy Conservation Standards for General Service Lamps, recently passed by the U.S. Department of Energy, are set to impact the pool and spa industry.

These regulations, which apply to all lamps emitting between 310 and 3,300 lumens, are designed to manage energy usage in various applications and industries, including pools and spas.

Under these regulations, all lamps falling within the specified lumen range must emit at least 45 lumens per watt. This requirement applies to both traditional lamps and LED lights, although many LED products currently comply with the standards.

It’s important to note that the enforcement timeline for these regulations is more stringent than previous rules. As of January 1, 2023, manufacturers are no longer permitted to produce, sell, or import non-compliant lights. Violators may face penalties for non-compliance.

How Department of Energy Regulations Will Impact The Pool Industry

To get a better understanding of the new regulations we spoke with Ben Forrest of PAL Lighting, one of the industry leaders in the pool lighting sector.

“The bottom line is the Department of Energy has made a decision that they want to

introduce legislation to stop the continual use of really inefficient lighting,” explained Forrest, “most importantly, this is not just for the pool industry. This is right across the entire lighting sector and electrical sector nationwide. The legislation relates to what they call GSL’s, or General Service Lamps, defined as lamps that either have an anti-screw fitting or pin connections.”

“It doesn’t include nicheless lights or the niche lights that are full fixture lights. It does include LED lamps, but any light that is not a lamp is not included under this. So the obvious target for the Department of Energy is the incandescent lamps,” said Forrest.


“What they’ve said is that any lamp that doesn’t produce at least 45 lumens of light per watt is not considered energy efficient, and it’s not sufficient to pass the legislation. Now, that will rule out virtually every incandescent lamp immediately, and it will rule out a lot of the LED lamps,” explained Forrest.

“There are far more efficient methods, and pool owners as a whole can save a lot of money just by coming across to energy efficient lighting as the lighting expectation from consumers is elevated,” said Forrest.

“What we’re seeing is more and more lights being put in the pool so the importance of making those lights efficient is just skyrocketing. Where once we had two energy efficient or energy inefficient lights in the pool, the Department of Energy realizes that we can’t go down a path where now we have 140 inefficient lights in a swimming pool on these large projects. We’re expecting sometime in the next 12 to 18 months that these laws, these very same expectations and regulations will be extended to include all pool lights but we don’t know for sure. There’s no visibility. They’ve not released anything. We’d be interested to see what the DOE wind up doing,” expressed Forrest.

What this news means is that distributors and retailers are also subject to these regulations. As of March 1, 2023,

retailers are prohibited from selling non-compliant lights. Companies selling non-compliant lights between March 1 and July 31 will face reduced penalties, but starting August 1, full penalties will be imposed on distributors and retailers who continue to sell non-compliant lights.

“They’re giving a grace period where you’re not going to get penalized too bad or a reduced penalty period, which may be nothing more than a written warning. Most likely that’s what it’s going to be for first offenses, but if you’re caught repeatedly, they’re going to start issuing fines,” warns Forrest.

These regulations are part of the DOE’s efforts to promote energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption in various industries, including the pool and spa industry. It’s essential for pool contractors and consumers to be aware of and comply with these new standards to avoid penalties and ensure environmentally responsible practices.

Listen to our entire conversation with Ben Forrest of PAL Lighting and learn more about the new DOE lighting regulations on the Pool Magazine podcast.

Listen to the podcast...


With a movable floor you transform your pool into a safe patio/party venue, a paddling pool for children or even a full size swimming pool. All by the push of a button...


Innovations In Technology Impacting The POOL INDUSTRY

The pool industry is dynamic. Over the years, it has adopted technology advancements to meet industry needs and market demands. When it comes to automated pool products, numerous technologies enhance the pool experience for homeowners and pool professionals.

Over time, changing industry dynamics and customer demands have led to product innovations and customer service process improvements across the industry. Consumer desires can drive other transformations like the capability

to control and monitor everything from a smartphone or the need for more energy-efficient, sustainable solutions. These marketplace trends are expected to continue to push the industry to focus on delivering simple and smart solutions to pool owners and the pool pros who serve them.

Understanding the needs of pool owners and servicers alike is a crucial jumping-off point to inspire innovative thinking. The pool industry can also benefit from exploring what’s next in tech outside of pools. For example, what trends are shaping consumer electronics? How do people want

to interact with their products? How are organizations adapting augmented and virtual reality technologies to transform their customer’s purchasing journey? When the industry looks outside of its “swim lane,” it has the benefit of exposure to different perspectives. Different perspectives can bring innovative ways of thinking about product design and customer experience. While there are several trends and new technologies to consider, some of the most innovative thinking is driven by connected and automated products and increased demands for greater sustainability.


Membership for Protectors

Membership for Protectors

Membership for Protectors

Membership for Protectors

Membership for Protectors

Membership for Protectors

The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance is a growing network with programs geared to support the stewards of our industry, the ones who never give up and fight for the pool and hot tub professional against harmful regulations and misinformation. You understand that it’s your right to have a successful business, but it’s also your responsibility to take charge and make sure your voice is one among many who has the power to influence outcomes. Join other tenacious protectors of the business by helping shape legislation, codes, and standards and by making sure the facts are shared with state and federal members of Congress.

The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance is a growing network with programs geared to support the stewards of our industry, the ones who never give up and fight for the pool and hot tub professional against harmful regulations and misinformation. You understand that it’s your right to have a successful business, but it’s also your responsibility to take charge and make sure your voice is one among many who has the power to influence outcomes. Join other tenacious protectors of the business by helping shape legislation, codes, and standards and by making sure the facts are shared with state and federal members of Congress.

The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance is a growing network with programs geared to support the stewards of our industry, the ones who never give up and fight for the pool and hot tub professional against harmful regulations and misinformation. You understand that it’s your right to have a successful business, but it’s also your responsibility to take charge and make sure your voice is one among many who has the power to influence outcomes. Join other tenacious protectors of the business by helping shape legislation, codes, and standards and by making sure the facts are shared with state and federal members of Congress.

The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance is a growing network with programs geared to support the stewards of our industry, the ones who never give up and fight for the pool and hot tub professional against harmful regulations and misinformation. You understand that it’s your right to have a successful business, but it’s also your responsibility to take charge and make sure your voice is one among many who has the power to influence outcomes. Join other tenacious protectors of the business by helping shape legislation, codes, and standards and by making sure the facts are shared with state and federal members of Congress.

The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance is a growing network with programs geared to support the stewards of our industry, the ones who never give up and fight for the pool and hot tub professional against harmful regulations and misinformation. You understand that it’s your right to have a successful business, but it’s also your responsibility to take charge and make sure your voice is one among many who has the power to influence outcomes. Join other tenacious protectors of the business by helping shape legislation, codes, and standards and by making sure the facts are shared with state and federal members of Congress.

The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance is a growing network with programs geared to support the stewards of our industry, the ones who never give up and fight for the pool and hot tub professional against harmful regulations and misinformation. You understand that it’s your right to have a successful business, but it’s also your responsibility to take charge and make sure your voice is one among many who has the power to influence outcomes. Join other tenacious protectors of the business by helping shape legislation, codes, and standards and by making sure the facts are shared with state and federal members of Congress.


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STRATEGIC PARTNERS Builders Service Companies Retailers Manufacturers Charlie Claffey, Claffey Pools, Southlake, TX POOL & HOT TUB ALLIANCE 2111 Eisenhower Ave., Ste. 500, Alexandria, VA 22314 4775 Granby Circle, Colorado Springs, CO 80919 (703) 838-0083 (719) 540-9119 phta@phta.org phta.org
STRATEGIC PARTNERS Builders Service Companies Retailers Manufacturers Charlie Claffey, Claffey Pools, Southlake, TX POOL & HOT TUB ALLIANCE 2111 Eisenhower Ave., Ste. 500, Alexandria, VA 22314 4775 Granby Circle, Colorado Springs, CO 80919 (703) 838-0083 (719) 540-9119 phta@phta.org phta.org
We need you to ensure tomorrow looks as bright as it can be.
STRATEGIC PARTNERS Builders Service Companies Retailers Manufacturers Charlie Claffey, Claffey Pools, Southlake, TX POOL & HOT TUB ALLIANCE 2111 Eisenhower Ave., Ste. 500, Alexandria, VA 22314 4775 Granby Circle, Colorado Springs, CO 80919 (703) 838-0083 (719) 540-9119 phta@phta.org phta.org
need you to ensure tomorrow looks as bright as it can be.
STRATEGIC PARTNERS Builders Service Companies Retailers Manufacturers Charlie Claffey, Claffey Pools, Southlake, TX POOL & HOT
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Smart, Connected, & Automated Solutions

Many pool owners want to spend more time enjoying their pools and less time maintaining them. To meet this need, manufacturers are challenged to create and deliver products and solutions with increased connectivity capabilities to make pool control more effortless and user-friendly. And, striking the balance between meeting the speed and ease a pool owner desires and ensuring the product is also easy for pool pros to service and monitor can help provide win-win solutions for the industry.

Smart, connected, and automated products not only can provide ease and peace of mind to pool owners but they are also transforming the way pool professionals work. Some connected pumps, for example, allow pool pros to install the product efficiently with intuitive step-by-step prompts via an app. Less time installing means moving on to the next job quicker.

Remote monitoring is also changing the way the service industry works. The status and operating conditions of some pool products can be remotely monitored via an app allowing the pro to stay one step ahead and be proactive with service, even with busy schedules and increased demands. For products that provide remote monitoring, software updates could be pushed over-the-air (OTA), meaning the pool professional doesn’t need to be at the pool pad to ensure the customer’s equipment is running optimally, saving time and effort.

Automation systems are also rapidly evolving. By leveraging cloud technology, pool professionals and pool owners could experience improved stability, connectivity and centralized control of their pool devices. By connecting to apps on a phone or tablet, homeowners can check their pool status remotely, receive alerts and easily adjust features such as lights with the touch of a finger.

Energy Savings and Environmental Considerations

While connected and automated products and solutions are a big focus, this is not the only trend driving innovation. Pool owners are also increasingly prioritizing energysaving efforts and monitoring their environmental impact, also reflecting energy efficiency and environmental trends that exist in the larger marketplace. These developments are encouraging innovation in pool

products and solutions to further focus on and maximize energy efficiency. Such innovations include continued evolution of pool pump technology, high-efficiency heaters, and energy-efficient lighting, among others.

An Eye to the Future

Manufacturers are increasingly adopting new technologies to improve product design, efficiency, and customer experience to support the evolving innovation trends in the pool industry. Education and support will help with the adoption of these innovations for pool pros and customers.

As we progress through 2023 and beyond, the pool industry is expected to continue to evolve. Listening closely to customers and understanding needs and trends will help keep pace and even provide industry leadership into the future.

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Aquamatic Cover Systems SETTING THE BAR

When it comes to automatic pool covers, Aquamatic Cover Systems has been a leader for over four decades and is dedicated to serving customers all over the world. Founded in 1978, the company has spent the last 43 years perfecting their craft and creating some of the most innovative and reliable pool covers on the market. With a focus on durability and simplicity, Aquamatic’s patented dual-motor hydraulic design is unmatched when it comes to reliability.

Aquamatic’s commitment to innovation has allowed designers and builders worldwide to custom install covers on nearly any type of swimming pool application. They have developed some of the most durable automatic pool covers on

the market while keeping true to their mission of making products that are elegantly simple with the least amount of moving parts.

A thought leader and innovator, Aquamatic holds more patents relative to automatic and manual swimming pool safety covers than all other cover companies combined, proving their dedication to quality and innovation.

To get a better understanding of their product line and why the firm remains a preferred brand with consumers, we spoke with Tom Dankel, VP of Aquamatic Cover Systems. We started off with one simple question, we wanted to know what differentiates Aquamatic from other pool covers on the market.

“That’s a great question. If you look at a photograph of two pool covers side-by-side, the photographs for all intents purposes look the same, almost like certain automobiles. Styles are also the same. But what makes our system different is the heart and soul,” said Dankel.

“While we started with electric covers in the late seventies, in the eighties, we began to experiment with hydraulic drives. We wanted to remove electric motors away from the poolside. By the late 80s, we did our first prototype units, and by 1994, we were exclusively hydraulic,” said Dankel.

“What makes our system different is the drive unit.” explained Dankel, “it’s an all-fluid hydraulic drive with no mechanical linkage. There are no service requirements on the mechanism and no lubrication points. It’s a closed-loop dual motor system and there’s no mechanical linkage of any kind, meaning no clutch. Every other domestically produced automatic cover has some kind of a clutch system.”


Aquamatic is widely considered by industry experts to be on the bleeding cutting edge of technology for automatic pool covers, it’s also backed by a superior warranty. “We didn’t invent hydraulics, but we invented the hydraulic pool cover. What we did is we looked at how we could build this as robust and as simple as possible at the same time. The brushes in a car wash are driven by hydraulic orbital torque motors. Well, we use that same motor on our automatic pool cover system,” said Dankel.

“The wear a typical car wash might see in one day could very well be the entire service life of one of our covers. That’s why we could back this up with a 20-year warranty, because the components we use are over-engineered for use in our application, and they just don’t wear out. If for some reason the motor were to fail, we’ll happily give you a new one, no questions asked,” said Dankel.

While Aquamatic Cover Systems has several lines, Hydramatic is the flagship product they hang their hat on. “That is our fully automatic system that is also an ASTM-approved safety cover, then we have the accessories to the Hydramatic,” said Dankel.

Versatility and ease of use are the hallmarks of the EZ Cover, another top seller for Aquamatic. “That’s our entry-level cover and it’s a single-user manual cover that looks and installs just like an automatic system but without the automatic component,” explained Dankel, “it’s the only manual cover that can be operated by one person in one comfortable standing position without ropes to pull or cranks.”

The Hydralux provides a high level of customization to allow for more custom applications. The unique design eliminates the need for a traditional automatic pool cover’s rope/track/leading edge bar interface and can automate pools that previously couldn’t accommodate an automatic pool cover

“Every automatic safety cover has tracks. Even though the pool may be freeform, the cover is always rectangular in shape. The Hydralux utilizes extruded PVC or polycarbonate slats that we can cut to any converging shape,” said Dankel.

Aquamatic is also known throughout the industry for their highly sustainable solar cover solutions. “One actually was right here in our backyard, and it was a local community college where the pool has two sections to it,” said Dankel.

“The main body of the pool is 60’x95′ on the east side and 45’x65′ on the west side. They were using traditional insulating blankets with multiple rollers and multiple people to deploy. They have quite a wind problem there,” explained Dankel, “the wind would just take these covers and bundle them up. It was quite labor intensive.”

“Now we have this cover that doesn’t get affected in that regard. Also with these commercial pools, you can’t have an obstruction around the pool. For that, we adopted solar to power our hydraulic drive unit because these superstructures actually move. This particular pool moves 10ft away to allow the operator to put in starting blocks in for competitions. It was a very cool project,” said Dankel.

It’s clear why Aquamatic Cover Systems has remained a top choice among pool owners for over four decades. Exceptional quality, versatile customization options, commitment to customer service, and innovative technologies are the hallmarks the firm is known for. Aquamatic Cover Systems’ has well earned its reputation for quality and reliability, making them the gold standard in the pool covering industry.

Want to learn more about Aquamatic Cover Systems and their line of products? Listen to our entire conversation with Tom Dankel on the Pool Magazine podcast.

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Pool Automation Technology Spotlight


The Attendant is making waves with pool professionals who are looking to enhance their automation options with cutting-edge technology.

The industry has seen a significant leap forward in pool automation technology with the introduction of The Attendant, a universal control system developed by Poolside Tech based in New Hope, PA. This cloud-based automation system is revolutionizing the way pool owners manage their pool equipment, water quality, and energy usage, elevating the customer experience to a whole new level.

One of the standout features of The Attendant is its ability to continually monitor pool equipment from any manufacturer, as well as water quality and temperature, to determine the most energyefficient way to have the pool ready for use. This means that regardless of the type of

equipment a pool owner has, The Attendant can integrate and communicate effectively with it, making it a truly universal control system. This eliminates the need for multiple controllers for different components, simplifying the automation process and providing a seamless experience for the user.

The vendor-agnostic pool automation system developed by Poolside Tech, is designed to seamlessly integrate with the “Big 3” pool equipment manufacturers, providing a comprehensive solution for pool owners. This innovative system optimizes the energy usage of the entire pool system by intelligently coordinating the individual capabilities of each pool equipment, such as pumps, heaters, and filters, to ensure maximum efficiency.


To get a better understanding of the full capabilities of the product, we spoke with Chief Technology Officer, Stan Reznik of Poolside Tech, manufacturers of The Attendant.

“I think that the value proposition is probably the easiest one to tackle. One of the reasons why this product exists was that it was essentially impossible for a builder, service tech, or homeowner to pick and choose the components that they want. What we really were driving towards is giving consumers that choice,” said Reznik.

“Unfortunately, with the bulk of existing products out there right now, automation only really works with a particular manufacturer’s portfolio of equipment. We basically wanted a system where you could

pick your favorite products no matter what they are,” explained Reznik.

The Attendant’s software goes beyond basic automation by providing an interface and applied intelligence that enables it to think and communicate effectively with both homeowners and service providers. This allows pool owners to have complete control over their pool’s operation and maintenance, while also providing valuable data and insights for service providers to monitor and optimize pool performance.

Energy-saving capabilities are one of The Attendant’s most powerful features. During the initial configuration process, the system allows users to input their current energy rates, or a national average

can be used as a default. From there, The Attendant analyzes and records the performance of each component, reporting energy consumption and associated costs for both electricity and gas, broken down by device type. This allows pool owners to track their energy usage and costs in real-time, helping them make informed decisions about their pool’s operation and identify areas for potential energy savings.

“We’ve done this with pumps, salt systems, lights. We certainly aim to support everybody’s heaters, chillers and so forth. We are even introducing new capabilities into things like valves, for example, where we’ve got some unique patents on being able to control a valve that previously was simply controlled by its limit switches,” said Reznik.

Overall, The Attendant represents a giant leap forward in pool automation technology by offering advanced features such as energysaving capabilities, personalized recommendations, and remote access, while also being NSF 50-listed for water quality monitoring and control. Pool owners can now enjoy a hassle-free and energyefficient pool ownership experience

with The Attendant, which elevates the customer experience and sets a new standard for pool automation technology.

Pool builders can also benefit from embracing the technological advancements of The Attendant. By offering The Attendant as part of their pool installation package, pool builders can differentiate themselves

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in the market by providing a cuttingedge and environmentally-friendly solution to their customers.

The Attendant’s energy-saving features and water quality monitoring capabilities are attractive selling points for eco-conscious pool owners who are looking for sustainable and efficient pool automation options.


This Pool Contractor Is Taking Her SKILLS TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Holly Waldhauer is a talented tile installer and the owner of Mermaid Lagoons, a pool contracting firm located in Bunnell, FL. Recently her company was named Trade Member Company of the Year by the Florida Swimming Pool Association, a testament to the quality of her work and the high regard in which she is held by her peers.

In fact, one of Holly’s most impressive recent accomplishments was installing a complete glass tile interior in a pool, a project that showcased

her skills and attention to detail. She recently shared a photo of the finished product in Master Techs, a Facebook group for pool contractors. The project received a flood of positive comments from other professionals in the industry.

“I was actually at a state board meeting for the Florida Swimming Pool Association. I’m Vice President of the East Central Chapter right now and I was talking to another board member and he asked me if I was interested in doing his pool,” explained Waldhauer. “I told him that I’d done an entire spa in glass, but that I’d

never done a pool. So I accepted the challenge. I just dove in head first and I took my time.”

Holly has been involved in the pool industry since 1997 when she started working with her first husband, who did plumbing, decking, and tile for pools. She quickly discovered that setting tile was her favorite part of the job, and she started doing it exclusively. As word of mouth spread, she began getting offers to work from other builders and eventually started her own company specializing in setting tile.


Over time, Holly expanded her expertise and obtained the necessary licenses that allow her to specialize as a swimming pool trim specialty contractor. Today she subcontracts for her husband’s pool construction firm Waldhauer & Son Custom Pools & Spas as well as other builders in the Palm Coast area.

While working with a spouse might be a challenge for some, Holly says she doesn’t encounter the same difficulties, “We have a rule that we do not talk any business or shop at night. So with that rule, we’re solid,” explained Waldhauer.

In a primarily male-dominated industry, stepping outside of her comfort zone to post photos of her work was something Waldhauer worked up the nerve to do. “There are so many trolls on the internet. To get to read all those nice comments from the project I posted really made me feel good inside,” said Waldhauer who explained that being a female who is proficient in pool tile hasn’t come without its challenges.

“When I first started working for other builders, I would tell them that I do tile, and they really wouldn’t believe me, but then I’d show them pictures of my work, and then they’d give me a shot. All those companies I’ve been working with pretty much ever since,” said Waldhauer.

As a woman working alongside men, Holly says that it helps to keep a tough exterior, “You can’t let anyone push you around or make you feel uneasy, which does happen out in the field,” explained Waldhauer, “I’m on a lot of construction sites with 20 men and just me. I’m going to tell women if you’re going to get in this field, trust your intuition. Don’t overdo it. You don’t have to prove to yourself that you’re a man, because we’re not men.”

“If you can’t carry an entire bag of Pool Brite do what I do, cut it in half, because an 80-pound bag of Pool Brite is heavy. Don’t do what I did. I overdid it and I’ve had rotator cuff surgery. Just go easy on yourself and go easy on your body,” said Waldhauer.

Waldhauer has certainly begun establishing a name for herself in the right circles for the quality of her work and sees a bright future for herself in glass tile which she says is one of the hottest pool trends right now.

“If you can afford it, everyone is doing glass. It’s the hottest trend, but it’s also more expensive and it’s more time-consuming,” explained Waldhauer, “I miss out on a lot of the easy jobs because I’m stuck doing these big glass tile jobs with vanishing edges and glass on the steps but I would say that is just the hottest thing right now, and it’s not going away.”

It’s clear women like Waldhauer are not only claiming their place in the pool industry, but they are also changing perceptions in the minds of consumers. “When I pull up to a job and homeowners see a woman come out of my work truck, they’re very happy to see me,” confided Waldhauer, “I feel like I’m a little more detailed in what I do. I take my time, and I think that people know that women are a little more patient. One comment I hear all the time, especially when I did that entire pool in glass is that I have a lot of patience but it’s because I’m not in a hurry. I take my time and I do it right.”

With her skillset and sensibility, Waldhauer is demonstrating that women like her are more than capable of tackling physically onerous jobs such as tile setting and says she hopes folks like her prove women have a place in all aspects of the industry.

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TAKING AQUATIC ENJOYMENT TO A HIGHER LEVEL SINCE 1996 1.800.951.spas (7727) 720.864.9115 fax 866.605.2358 diamondspas.com info@diamondspas.com Custom Copper & Stainless Steel Aquatic Products Residential Commercial Hospitality Swimming Pools Spas Glass-Walled Pools & Spas Energy-Efficient Portable Spas Swim Spas Cold Therapy Pools Water Features Luxury Custom Indoor & Outdoor Bath Fixtures Specializing in Rooftop Pool & Spa Installations Lightweight & Durable Sophisticated Artistic Sustainable Photographer: Sean O’Rourke Landscape Architect: Arentz Landscape Architects LLC COPPER

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This Pool Contractor Is Taking Her SKILLS TO THE NEXT LEVEL

pages 64-67

Pool Automation Technology Spotlight THE ATTENDANT

pages 62-63

Aquamatic Cover Systems SETTING THE BAR

pages 58-60

Innovations In Technology Impacting The POOL INDUSTRY

pages 54-58

DOE Pool Lighting Regulations

pages 52-53

The Traveling Pool Salespeople OF ESTHER WILLIAMS

pages 50-51

2023 Pool Furniture BUYER’S GUIDE

pages 48-49

Everything You Need To Know ABOUT POOL DECKING

pages 46-48

Pencil Jets Create a Dramatic WATER FEATURE FOR YOUR POOL

pages 44-46

The Art of Engineering The Art of Engineering

pages 41-42

Setting The Standard PAOLO BENEDETTI

pages 38-40

Reinventing Construction Monitoring and Pool Safety with CamerEye

pages 35-37

Celebrating 50 Years Of Innovation WITH POLARIS

pages 32-34

Water is Ludi’s Life POOLS ARE HER STAGE

pages 28-31

Pool Girl Pro Industry Training TO THE RESCUE

pages 24-27

Aurora® 4K LED Outdoor Smart TV Smarter Outdoor Entertainment.

pages 21-23

We Ask Ryan Maltbie... WHAT’S IN A DOMAIN?

page 20

How Paul Porter Built The World’s Largest POOL COMPANY

pages 14-19

One-On-One With Designer TAL THEVENOT

pages 12-13

Jimmy Reed On Preventing GLASS TILE FAILURES

pages 10-11

Relax, The Rich Aren’t Using THE WATER FOR POOLS

pages 8-9


pages 2-5
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