In The News: July 2004

 Fire Damages BioLab Warehouse

A fire in BioLab's Conyers, Ga.based chemical warehouse forced thousands of people from their homes and businesses on May 25, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The damage to the building, however, is not expected to affect the swimming pool industry in any way, says Scott Briskey, a spokesman for the company.

According to Briskey, chemical orders pending will be distributed from BioLab's other warehouse locations in Decatur and Lawrenceville, Ga.

The fire began at the 260,000square-foot warehouse at approximately 4:30 a.m. The warehouse was used as a storage location for finished goods and packaging supplies such as boxes, labels, pallets and other containers. According to, the three main chemicals stored in the warehouse were trichloroisocyanuric acid, dichloroisocyanuric acid and calcium hypochlorite. The building also housed offices, a training room, a conference room and a break room.

Cause of the blaze was not known. As of early June, the Atlanta fire department, fire commissioner and insurance agents had entered the building to assess the damage and to begin determining a cause for the fire.

The cost of the materials destroyed in the fire was estimated to be $14 million at press time. These materials included approximately 8 million pounds of chlorine-based swimming pool sanitizers and 7 million pounds of other sanitizers and assorted chemical pool maintenance products, such as water balancing chemicals, clarifiers and patio furniture cleaners.

Briskey said there were no immediate plans to rebuild the warehouse, which is estimated to have been worth $7 million. However, he says, "it is in the picture."

On a normal weekday there are up to 450 employees working in the facility, with about 30 in the warehouse, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Nobody was hurt in the fire, although residents within a 1- mile radius of the warehouse were evacuated due to a cloud of potentially dangerous chlorine-filled smoke rising from the building, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

At press time, approximately 170 workers had been permitted to return to the building to work.

Fla. Alarm Decision Overruled

"It's ridiculous."

The Florida District Court of Appeals recently overruled a decision that allowed Florida builders to install battery-powered safety alarms on doors or windows in new swimming pool sites. According to the ruling, only hard-wired or plug-in alarms will now meet the Florida Building Commission standards.

As a result, Florida is the only state in the country with such requirements.

This ruling ends a two-year-long legal process that began in January 2002 when Florida's Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act became law. In March 2002, the Florida Building Commission mandated only hardwired or plug-in power sources can be used for safety alarms on doors or windows where a house acts as the fourth side of the fence.

In April 2002, the Florida Swimming Pool Association challenged the FBC, stating cost-ineffectiveness and a market shortage of new products. An administrative law judge overturned the FBC decision in February 2003, making battery-powered alarms acceptable.

A month later, the FBC appealed the ruling, which the District Court later agreed with and ruled in favor of.

"It's ridiculous," says Merle Stoner, president of Poolguard/PBM Industries and chairman of the ASTM subcommittee for pool safety. According to Stoner, the National Spa & Pool Institute, ASTM and the Consumer Product Safety Commission require builders to install a battery-operated alarm that complies with UL 2017 and alerts homeowners within seven seconds of the door or window opening.

The FPSA has elected to not challenge the court's decision.


  • Polaris Pool Systems recently acquired the AutoClear, AutoClear Plus and Pure&Clear product lines from ClearTech Automation, a Pompano Beach, Fla.-based manufacturer of natural chlorination products. With the addition of these products, Polaris says it is in a position to offer a complete line of automatic cleaning systems.
  • Rockwood Specialties Group, parent company of Advantis Technologies, has acquired four divisions of Dynamit Nobel, Troisdorf, a specialty chemicals manufacturer based in Germany. The four divisions acquired — Sachtleben, Chemetall, CeramTec and DNES Custom Synthesis — reported total revenues of $1.6 billion in 2003. Rockwood Specialties, headquartered in Princeton, N.J., manufactures specialty chemicals and operates 40 facilities in North America, Europe and Asia.
  • Trim-Lok, a manufacturer of extruded plastic and rubber, has acquired Grip-Tek Products, which makes a full line of foam rubber handgrips.

Billiards Expo Hosts Record Crowd

More than 6,000 buyers, exhibitors and guests attended the 2004 International Billiard & Home Recreation Expo — the largest Expo to date, according to show organizers. More than 430 of those in attendance listed "pool and spa" as their main business, according to Roger Blank, BCA trade show committee chairman.

The Expo, held April 1–3 and hosted by the Billiard Congress of America, included 2,428 retailers and approximately 310 billiard room proprietors, with 273 exhibitors renting 1,286 booths at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

"While we're still gathering information from exhibitors and attendees on the success of the April Expo, we're very pleased with the attendance figures," says Blank. "Many exhibitors are reporting that they had their best show ever." The Expo has been held in July in previous years.

"Pool and spa retailers would have benefited from attending the Expo because of the added products that were shown — spas, pools, patio furniture, outdoor pool tables, landscape products and water toys," Blank adds. "But the main reason a pool and spa retailer attends this Expo is they have either already begun selling billiards along side the water products they carry, or they are considering it for their future. The demographics of a spa buyer are absolutely the same as the billiard table or game room furniture buyer — the two products go very well together."

On The Move

  • Bio-Dex Laboratories recently moved its manufacturing headquarters from Scottsdale, Ariz., to a 15,000-square-foot facility in Phoenix. Bio-Dex, a wholesale supplier of algaecides, water clarifiers and calcium removers, says the new manufacturing plant is three times larger than the Scottsdale location.
  • Goldline Controls, a manufacturer of chlorine generators and pool and spa automation systems, has moved to a 42,000-squarefoot facility in North Kingstown, R.I. The company says the manufacturing plant includes an electrical and mechanical engineering department and a testing laboratory with two indoor pools and one outdoor pool and spa combination. Goldline Controls was formerly located in La Mesa, Calif.

Consumers Surf to Pool People USA, a pool builder referral Web site for consumers sponsored by the NSPI Manufacturers Council, has seen a 160 percent rise in visitors since 2002, according to documents provided by the organization.

Jill McCartney, account manager for Pool People USA, says the Web site has generated 100,572 hits in its first quarter of this year, with the average visitor session increasing to 16.03 minutes compared to 12.5 minutes in 2002.

In total, 3,067 builders, retailers and service providers have joined Pool People USA since its creation in 1999. According to the organization, Pool People USA doubled the number of consumers it referred to builders in the first quarter of 2004 compared to the previous year.

In an effort to grow these numbers further, McCartney says Pool People USA has recently partnered with Improvenet, an organization in the building materials industry that connects products and services with consumers, contractors, distributors and manufacturers. In May, Improvenet sent out 1,026 consumer referrals to dealers.

The Web site also features, a section of the site that is fun for kids while promoting safety, and Aquacise, a section of the site promoting water aerobics.

Super Vision Reports Record Q1 Revenues

Super Vision International, Orlando, Fla., recently reported revenues of $3.1 million for the first quarter of 2004, a nearly 30 percent increase over the $2.4 million reported for the same quarter a year ago.

Company officials attributed the gains in revenue in large part to increases in the pool and spa business, including increased OEM business.

For the quarter ended March 31, 2004, the company also realized a 9 percent gain in gross margin, due primarily to increased sales of higher-margin products and more effective management purchasing and inventory, according to the company.

Net income was also up. A year ago the company reported a net loss of $443,000, while this year it posted net income of $46,000. Reduced operating expenses as a result of "leaner and more streamline operations," the company said. Financial Program Renamed

Paramount Pool & Spa Systems has renamed its financing program, changing it from G.B. Financial Services to Paramount Capital Finance Corp. Paramount manufactures in-floor cleaning and circulation systems for in-ground pools.

Dimension One Partners With BioGuard

A new marketing agreement between Dimension One Spas and SpaGuard, a division of BioGuard, will allow Dimension One dealers to carry SpaGuard chemicals, including oxidizers, sanitizers, balancers and accessories. BioGuard will also provide training and sales support to Dimension One dealers who carry the products.

Golfer To Endorse Pacific Pools

One of the leading players on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour will endorse Pacific Pools throughout the LPGA Tour.

Michele Redman will display the Pacific Pools logo on all her clothing during the LPGA tour and will support the company by attending promotional events. Redman has two LPGA victories: one in 1997 at the JAL Big Apple Classic and one in 2000 at the First Union Betsy King Classic.

ThermoSpas Acquired By Founder

ThermoSpas, Wallingford, Conn., recently announced that two of its three founders, brothers Michael and John Pinciaro, had retired and that Andrew Tournas, the third founder, had taken over as president and sole owner.

Additionally, the company has made numerous management-level hires in an effort to increase its manufacturing and retail business, according to Tournas.

"I wanted to bring in a highly skilled management team and new directors," he says. "The CEO, Mike Baron, brought a lot of experience. Pat Graham is the new COO, and he's been a tremendous help in bringing in new directors. In the last year we've brought in about a dozen top-level people that are bringing a whole new variety of expertise and experience. The primary focus was to enhance the product."

With annual revenues of approximately $58 million and sales up 20 percent in 2003, Tournas says the company has room to grow, and that a recent overhaul of the product line will help achieve that goal.

"Today everything we put into the hot tub is different than what we were building two years ago," he says. "We wanted to put in the best of the best and if it didn't exist we'd engineer it."

Tournas and the Pinciaros became partners in a wholesale heating equipment business in 1980 then ventured into distributing hot tubs. Two years later the manufacturer it had been buying from closed its doors, and the three saw an opportunity for a hot tub manufacturer in the Northeast.

As for his former partners, Tournas says their interest had strayed from the business. "They just want to play more golf," he says. "Nothing wrong with that."

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