In The News: May 2005

Great Lakes Chalks Up

Great Lakes Home & Resort has added Kasson Game Tables to its line of home resort products. The Holland, Mich., manufacturer of hot tubs, saunas and casual furniture assumed operations at Kasson's Babbitt, Minn., facility on March 14.

"We were not on a quest to enter the billiards market," says Rick Mouw, president of Great Lakes Home & Resort. But Mouw says the terms of the deal were right, and it was essentially a turnkey opportunity. "It was a natural for us and fits in with our goal of providing home-resort products," he says.

Mouw says the manufacturing will remain in Babbitt, and the Kasson employees will stay on. "It's a thrill to be able to retain those jobs and make a difference there. It's a business decision of course, but in the process, it makes a difference in a lot of people's lives and we're excited about that."

Kasson, founded in 1983, rose quickly to become one of the top names in American billiard table manufacturing. According to the Duluth New Tribune, the company was the third largest American pool-table manufacturer in 2001, building 10,000 tables a year and employing 89 workers from Minnesota's Iron Range. But inventory control problems, rapid expansion and deteriorating margins sent the company into a downward spiral.

"Those folks in Minnesota have built good quality pool tables and they know what they are doing," says Mouw. "But we have a significant dealer network, many of which carry pool tables already, all of which could carry pools tables, and some of them already carry Kassons."

Mouw says the existing Kasson dealer network is also an asset. "There is a viable Kasson dealer network in place right now. We are selling and building tables right now. What Kasson dealers mostly need right now is just confidence that we are here, and they have that now."

Mouw says the purchase fits nicely with Great Lakes' previous expansions, such as the 1999 purchase of Almost Heaven Saunas. "We did obtain the Kasson Game Tables name, we're keeping the product line, we are coming out with new literature and promotional materials, and we are going to be very aggressive in the business, but we are going to do it alongside our other products.

"As we've seen with the saunas, we're able to do a lot of cross marketing between the industries that really works to our advantage."

SPEC Heads Off 2-Speed Pump Requirement In California

The California Spa & Pool Industry Education Council (SPEC) recently squelched a California Energy Commission regulation that would have mandated two-speed pumps on all pools built in the state beginning Jan. 1, 2006. The regulation, according to Don Burns, president of SPEC, was unnecessary and based on faulty assumptions of energy savings by Pacific Gas & Electric.

Burns says he and others in California's pool and spa industry were deliberately left out of the policymaking process and that they would have probably been able to prevent PG&E from including pool pumps in its proposal to the commission had they been given a chance.

"Last year PG&E said they'd be proposing some new regulations on swimming pool motor efficiencies, and that they would work together with us and everything would be fine," says Burns. "I did get a preliminary draft last summer of some of the things they were proposing, but the two-speed motor was not in there."

Burns, upset about the industry's exclusion from the process, then arranged a meeting with PG&E's chairman and chief of staff to raise his concerns. Burns is fully confident that when the issue is examined again, the two-speed motor mandate will be taken out of the regulation, which is a comprehensive document of which pool pumps are only a small part, he says.

"This is not a done deal and we'll go back and make sure it's right before it ever goes into effect. That's the good news," Burns says. "The bad news is there was a certain degree of bad faith on the part of PG&E, but they didn't get away with it and now it's wide open and we're going to take care of it."

Bruce Dunn, president of Mission Pools in Escondido, Calif., was also disappointed by PG&E's end-run on the industry, and disputes the claim that the mandate would save energy.

"It would appear that the premise for the change is that running fractional-horsepower two-speed pumps for circulation over a longer period of time would save substantial energy statewide," he said in a letter to Burns. "This discounts the issue of overcoming head-pressure issues. Water turnover is the key to water quality and two-speed pumps operate longer because of less gallons-per-minute flow. In a perfect world the concept works, but with the realities of equipment locations creating head pressure issues, including the ability to pump for solar, the world of pool construction becomes less than perfect."

Burns says that because of SPEC's apparent victory, it's unlikely regulators in other states will propose similar measures.

"If the industry is alert to it and the regulators are alert to it, I don't think we'll see it happen again," he says. "I think it's under control."

SCP Reports Record Year

SCP Pool Corporation, Covington, La., posted record net sales and income for 2004. Earnings per share for the year increased 31 percent to $1.19 per diluted share on net income of $66.9 million.

Net sales for the year increased 13 percent, to $1.31 billion. Base business sales growth of 10 percent contributed $116.8 million to the increase, while acquired service centers and centers consolidating with acquired ones accounted for the remaining $38.3 million of the $155.1 million increase.

Gross profit for the year grew by $55.7 million to $370.8 million, an increase of 18 percent. According to the company, the increase was due mainly to an increase in net sales and higher margins.

"Strong operating income growth of of 29 percent is a result of our continued improvement in executing every facet of our business," said Manuel Perez de la Mesa, president and CEO. "This improvement is consistent with prior years, and we anticipate ongoing improvement for many year into the future.

"At this juncture, we believe 15 to 18 percent growth in EPS (earnings per share) is reasonable."

Quarterly numbers were also up for the last part of 2004, with net sales showing an 11 percent increase, to $209.9 million. Base business sales growth accounted for nearly the entire $20 million increase.

"The Board is very pleased with the year's results and continues to be excited about the opportunities for the future," said Wilson B. Sexton, chairman.

The company also announced a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.07 per share, which was payable to shareholders on March 14.

APSP Files Interpretation Request

The APSP submitted a request for a formal interpretation from the National Electric Code regarding Article 680.26(c) Equipotential Bonding, which deals with the bonding of metal parts in permanently installed pools, after learning there are significant differences in the code wording compared to interpretations found in the NEC handbook. The APSP recommends building code officials and pool builders obtain and follow Article 680.26(c) and disregard any confusing interpretations until the formal interpretation is published.

May Is Barbecue Month

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association is providing consumer education support for National Barbecue Month in May with print, broadcast and online marketing and advertising.

The asssociation's support includes a news release that will be sent to thousands of newspapers, a photo feature in thousands of suburban and shopper newspapers and interviews each weekend on the nationally syndicated weekly radio phone-in program Homefront, which reaches 3.5 million listeners on more than 300 stations across the United States and Canada. In addition, two new barbecuing fact sheets, Grill Buying and Safety in Grilling, are available at for retailers to print and distribute to consumers. also features the new association logo, which retailers can download for in-store and promotional use.

Carter Keithley, president and CEO of HPBA, offers these tips to retailers to promote sales during May and throughout the summer.

  • Schedule a barbecuing class. Announce the class early, have people sign up and get a local chef to cook a meal, from appetizer to dessert, on a grill. Invite local television stations and newspapers to cover the event.
  • Hang a large "Celebrate National Barbecue Month" banner on the front of your store.
  • Hold a sweepstakes and give away a grill.
  • Showcase displays illustrating barbecue equipment as a great gift.
  • Do a weekend cooking demonstration outside your store to attract attention and hang a sign that says, "Start the season out right with a new grill."

Promoting Healthy Swimming 

Leaders from the aquatics industry and local, state and federal health institutions recently gathered in Atlanta to plan the first national initiative to reduce and prevent waterborne illnesses spread through the recreational use of swimming pools as well as lakes and other natural water bodies.

The national initiative to promote healthy swimming is co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists.

During the two-day workshop, more than 100 participants, including attendees from the National Spa & Pool Foundation and APSP, decided to establish a national dialogue on the risks of waterborne illnesses and solutions for ensuring healthy swimming. Recommendations that will include improved training for public health officials and pool staff will be published in a CDC report this summer.

New Association Meets At DeckExpo

The new North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) conducted its first annual membership meeting at DeckExpo, held Feb. 2-4, in Tampa, Fla. The 150-member association adopted bylaws and elected a board of directors and officers.

In its third year, DeckExpo, a national trade show for the deck, dock and railing industry, attracted 1,811 industry professionals and was 5 percent larger than the previous year with 159 exhibitors displaying in 26,400 square feet of space.

At the show's closing, more than 30 companies donated decks, railing, arbors, carpeting and construction materials to charities, including Habitat for Humanity, Tampa Metropolitan Ministries, Hillsborough County Association for Retarded Citizens and the City of Tampa Parks & Recreation Department.

The next DeckExpo will be held February 15-17, 2006, at the New Orleans Convention Center. Information on the trade show and education programs is available at

Campbell Named ACC Chairman 

Michael E. Campbell, president of Arch Chemicals, Smyrna, Ga., has been elected chairman of the American Chemistry Council's board of directors. Campbell, whose term will run through Jan. 31, 2006, has served on the council's board since 2000.  

CPSI Training CD Published

The National Swimming Pool Foundation and the National Environmental Health Association recently introduced the Certified Pool and Spa Inspector Training CD. The CD provides specialized pool and hot tub information for public and environmental health officials who must inspect recreational water installations. The CD is available for purchase at or

Spatex Grows

Spatex 05 drew approximately 2,500 visitors, making it the most successful show since its beginning nine years ago, show organizers say. The Brighton, United Kingdom, show, held Feb. 13-15, 2005, also drew more than 100 national and international exhibitors.

"We were very pleased with the success of Spatex this year," says Tom Togher, show organizer. "The show's popularity seems to keep growing year on year."

Spatex 06 will be held February 1214, 2006. For more information, visit

Fireplace Danger

Hearth & Home Technologies has issued a warning on possible safety risks associated with the Heat & Glo brand GEM 36 and GEM 42 gas fireplaces. The fireplaces, sold since July 2002, can accumulate gas, which, when ignited, can cause the fireplace's glass window to shatter and present the risk of burns.

A spokesperson from the company is asking customers who own a GEM 36 or GEM 42 gas fireplace to turn off the gas flow to the fireplace and stop using it until the problem is corrected.

Homeowners can determine whether they own a GEM 36 or GEM 42 gas fireplace by checking the rating plate located on the base pan in front of the fireplace's gas control, or by calling Heat & Glo customer care at 800/215-5152.


  • Beachcomber Hot Tubs, Surrey, British Columbia, recently presented Tustin, Calif.-based Balboa Instruments with the Bob Spears Supplier of the Year award. The award recognizes suppliers that concentrate on quality at all levels of production.
  • The Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy recently presented Arch Chemicals, Smyrna, Ga., with the Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy award for companies with annual revenues of less than $3 billion. Since 2000, the award has been presented annually to companies demonstrating outstanding executive commitment, innovation in corporate philanthropy and dedication to measuring the impact of donated money and programs on targeted problems in a community.
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