Waterfront: May 2005

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Golden Opportunity

Baja sponsors cycling team to help youth, promote hot tubs.

A lot of businesses in the pool and spa industry, from dealers to suppliers, give back to their communities each year. Baja Products has found a way to do that and promote its hot tubs at the same time. The Tucson, Ariz.-based portable spa maker has decided to sponsor an elite national cycling team because, says Jeff Parker, marketing manager for Baja, "the demographic for a cyclist and the demographic for a hot tub purchaser are identical, absolutely identical."

Parker points to a 2001 report by American Sports Data that says of the 54 million recreational cyclists in the United States, 36 percent have incomes ranging from $37,000 to $50,000, and 38 percent have incomes ranging from $60,000 to $74,000 a year. "If you look at the hot tub industry, that's who we typically target — that's who's buying spas," says Parker. "This is also the same athletic demographic that sees the benefit of hot tubs, because after being in the saddle for six hours, there's nothing better than going home and sitting in a hot tub.

"So it's a great way for Baja to give back to our community and to the communities where all our dealers are because we're going to be pulling [cyclists] from those communities and also racing in many of them. And it's a great return on investment, because people look at what cyclists wear and those names stick in their mind." Parker says he'll track the success of this sponsorship through Baja's

Web site, hottubs.com, since the cyclists will wear a hottubs.com logo on the their jerseys.

"We're giving junior cyclists an opportunity to be mentored and coached by positive and successful veteran cyclists," says Parker, "and we're also providing an opportunity for kids who are serious about cycling to go to camps, like the United States Cycling Federation Camps, so they can learn to be the next Lance Armstrong."

Dude, Where's My Pool?

In-ground swimming pool stolen from Norwegian family.

When Arild Nicolaysen closed his summer cabin in preparation for the cold Norwegian winter late last November, he might have been concerned about freezing pipes or animal damage. He probably wasn't worried his in-ground swimming pool would be dug up and stolen.

But when he and his family recently returned to the mountain cabin this spring, indeed the 20-year-old swimming pool was gone, with nothing but a gaping hole in its place. The thieves even took all of the 16-footwide pool's equipment.

"This can't be, we thought," Nicolaysen told state radio network NRK and the Kansas City Star. "We didn't think it was possible."

The local of Hobol (southeast of Oslo), Widar Gudim, calls the theft "undeniably a special case," but says he fears changing weather conditions might have damaged any clues left by the thieves.

"It must have been a terrible job to disassemble such a big pool," Brit Nicolaysen, who owns the cabin with her husband, told Kansas City Star. "There is a steel lining all the way around, plus there is a plastic liner and then there was a skimming system, a filter system and a lot of big hoses and pipes. They must have had a whole lot of time."

Star Power

Super Bowl ad creates a buzz for quartz surfacing company.

Cosentino USA, a supplier of natural quartz surfacing material, wanted to make a big splash to launch its new ad campaign. So the company bought a $2.4 million Super Bowl spot, and in its ad featured a red-haired Dennis Rodman surrounded by bubbles and soaking in a quartz-surfaced whirlpool bath (looking much like a custom spa).

"Some consumers loved the ad and others hated it, but a lot of it is tied to Rodman and their feelings toward him. He's such a strong personality," says Gina Covell, public relations manager for Cosentino USA in Houston.

Casting the recognizable Rodman seems to have paid off. "Hits to our Web site tripled the day after the Super Bowl," says Covell.

"Our customer service calls are also up, about 25 to 30 percent. At least the ad got people talking about the product."

Silestone, the brand name of Cosentino's natural quartz surfacing, "is almost indestructible," says Covell. "You don't have to seal it, you can't really scratch it or stain it and it's heat resistant. So it's pretty much maintenance free."

However, if left uncovered when not in use, UV rays will fade it, adds Covell. "We have had people make grills out of it, but you have to have a cover to protect it from UV," she says.

For more information about Silestone, visit silestone.com or call 800/291-1311.

The Fence Bible

Versatile accessories no backyard should be without.

Next to the pool itself, the fence surrounding it may well be the most important element — visually and functionally — in your clients' backyards. While everyone knows fences are absolutely necessary for safety reasons, homeowners sometimes balk at a barrier that doesn't live up to the beauty and design of the pool.

The Fence Bible, by Jeff Beneke, provides the instructions, examples and inspiration to guide you and your clients to the best solution for their backyard.

Beneke, a home-improvement expert, avid woodworker, master gardener and house renovator, organized the 272-page softcover book by construction material: wood, stone or masonry, metal and "living" (shrubbery, hedging, landscape). He discusses design considerations with clearly illustrated do and don't examples, he explains building and installation techniques, and covers maintenance as well. A special section on pool perimeter fencing emphasizes safety, privacy and security.

With the inspiration and ideas from this book, clients will view safety fencing as a desirable landscape accessory rather than a code-mandated eyesore.

— K.P.

The Fence Bible: How to plan, install and build fences and gates to meet every home style and property need, no matter what size your yard. By Jeff Beneke Storey Publishing ISBN 1-58017-530-9

Sailor Gets Back In The Water

San Juan donates therapy pool to injured soldier.

U.S. troops around the world serve and sometimes give their lives for not a whole lot in return. But, this past February, San Juan Products donated a new therapy pool to Peter Reid, a Navy Seabee who was critically injured in Iraq.

During San Juan's annual meeting, its dealers and builders regularly install a pool at the company's Lakeland, Fla., plant, and then tear it out of the ground. But this year, about 50 San Juan builders and dealers stayed a couple extra days to build a $50,000 pool in Reid's backyard — and then left it there.

The 4-foot-deep therapy pool is outfitted with a lift to lower Reid into the water, fiber-optic lights, an American flag on the bottom and a Seabee insignia on the side.

"I think this is giving Pete hope because he'll be able to move around in the pool," said Reid's wife, Michelle Reid, in a Florida Today article.

For One For All

IPSSA members show the true meaning of caring.

When members of the IPSSA Region 5 Yorba Linda chapter heard that a fellow IPSSA member's daughter had been diagnosed with cancer and that his insurance-holding wife had recently been let go from her job of 12 years, they raised $800 for medical expenses at their monthly meeting. And that wasn't even his chapter. His chapter, Region 5 North Orange County, cancelled its expensive Christmas party and opted to have a less expensive one with donated food and drink at a local restaurant instead. Also, the night of the party happened to be open-mic night at the establishment, so they contacted the performers, who agreed to give all tips earned that night to the burdened family. Restaurant-goers, after finding out about the cause, also donated money. In all, the restaurant party raised $5,000.

"There are a million stories like this," says Javier Payan, president of Payan Pool Service and San Diego County Regional Director of IPSSA, citing one example of when a former IPSSA member's grandchild drowned last year and IPSSA donated $1,500 for burial expenses. "That's the core value of why the association got started — it's the heart and soul of what we do."

Since the mid-1970s, a benefit of joining IPSSA, the largest pool service industry organization in the United States, is the use of its "sick route" service, in which chapter members cover each other's routes in times of injury and sickness, making sure businesses stay afloat.

"I think in general people are good," Payan adds. "I think in business you deal with the ugly side of people sometimes. But I think pool people are generally good and everyone's trying to do the right thing, and being in a position to help, they typically, unwaveringly, do it."

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