In The News: April 2006

Alternative Spa Sanitizer Gets EPA Approval

After a four-year process, the EPA approved Bromitron's bromine generator for portable spas in early February. This is the first EPA registration given to an apparatus, according to Bromitron. "People wonder what that means, and yes, there is a registration on a piece of equipment now for the first time ever in the United States, "says Bromitron owner Mike Robinson. "It's not a generic bromine generator registration now. It's a specific grade of sodium bromide used on a specific system because that's what they tested, and it's the first time that's ever been done before. Canada does that all the time, for ozonators and things like that. Any sanitizer in Canada, even if it's a piece of equipment, has to be registered."

The generator is EPA-classified as a pesticide, rather than a sanitizer, because it has a kill rating of 99.99 percent of the targeted organisms in the water within 30 seconds, according to the company.

Bromitron began selling sanitizers in 1990, servicing mostly a large commercial market, including Disney World and Sea World, but left the market in 2001 because the bromine water sanitizers the company produced were emitting bromate, a disinfection byproduct regulated by the EPA, and produced when sodium bromide is exposed to direct sunlight.

"So we took a bromine generator and put it in an indoor spa and an outdoor covered spa, and it didn't create any bromate. The bromate it created was less than what's in drinking water," says Robinson. The exact wording of the EPA registration is BromiCharge — which is our trademark sodium bromide — to be used in conjunction with the Bromitron bromine generator . So basically, they gave us a registration on our sodium bromide and our system."

The company was required to obtain a separate registration in each state, and now that the process is through, Bromitron is proceeding with plans to alert the industry. "Now we're going to market it to OEMs, and the dealer network is just clamoring for it," says Robinson. "You're looking at something that is an EPA-approved product; it's registered in every state as a disinfectant. It will retail for less than $200 and will cost about $39 a year for the salt."

Safety Award Presented

The inaugural Bill Donaton Memorial Safety Award was presented recently to All American Custom Pools of Norwalk, Conn., by The Hartford Insurance Company and the Northeast Spa & Pool Association. The award, which will be presented annually, is named in honor of the founder of LOOPLOC, Ltd., who died in 2002.

Approximately 75 companies that are members of The Hartford insurance program endorsed by NESPA were evaluated for the award, according to Lawrence Caniglia, executive director of NESPA.

Evaluations included in-person surveys of company locations and job sites by assessors from The Hartford, a review of the candidate's loss history, as well as the dealership's participation in continuing-education programs and achievement of industry certifications. In selecting the recipient of the award, The Hartford sought a pool company that "demonstrated the highest commitment to safety — at the workplace, on the road, at the job site and in the products they provide," says Caniglia.

"[I am] very proud to be the first recipient of the Bill Donaton Safety Award, because it is a validation of all we do," says John Romano, owner, All American Custom Pools. "My management team understands the importance of safety and takes it very seriously."

Crowded Online Marketplace Gains Another Competitor

Retailer Home Decor Products announced the launch of, an online retail site offering pool and hot tub supplies and outdoor living accessories, in late February. The new Web site is Home Decor's sixth online home improvement retail site, joining sister sites, and in the home improvement category. will provide poolspecific products and accessories, as well as poolside furniture, outdoor accents and entertainment solutions. The site will feature pool-supply brands such as Aquabot, Hayward, Polaris, AquaCal and Raypak, as well as outdoor furniture lines from Windham Castings, Tropitone, O.W. Lee, Kingsley-Bate and others.

Pool Companies Combine

Litehouse, a specialty pool and spa retail chain headquartered in northeast Ohio, has merged with Premier Pools & Spas, headquartered in Sacramento, Calif. The new parent company, KPJ Holdings, now has over 500 employees and generates more than $100 million per year in revenue. Jamie Colbourne, CEO of Litehouse and Paul Porter, Premier Pools & Spas CEO, will share supervision duties of the company's inground pools and retail divisions.

The company's in-ground pool division will be doing business as Premier Pools & Spas in California, Nevada and Arizona, and as Litehouse Pools & Spas in Ohio. The company's retail division will be doing business as Litehouse Pools & Spas in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Premier Pools & Spas in California and Arizona.

CEC To Reconsider Regulations

Two regulations adopted by the California Energy Commission (CEC) governing efficiency standards for pool motors and portable spas have been challenged by SPEC and the industry's manufacturers. One of the regulations would require all swimming pool motors to operate at two speeds and the other would require heating efficiency measurements for portable spas that SPEC maintains are not possible. "Having the CEC agree to consider industry recommendation for improving the regulations to achieve compliance does not mean that the Commission will adopt our recommended changes, however," says Don Burns, SPEC CEO.

SPEC's Manufacturers' Task Force on CEC Energy Regulations sponsored workshops on Feb. 1 in Los Angeles, charged with reaching a consensus on specific changes the industry will pursue with the CEC. APSP CEO Bill Weber facilitated the spa manufacturers' session, while SPEC board chairman Bruce Dunn conducted the motor manufacturers' workshop.

As AQUA went to press, the IAF-6 Committee, SPEC, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and the CEC's leading engineer-advisor were set to meet in Long Beach, Calif., to draft changes the industry will suggest for the electric spa regulations. "With the CEC's engineer Michael Martin participating, there should be solid progress in rewriting the flawed California regulations," SPEC CEO Don Burns notes. "The critical element that will lead to a successful revision is that the pool and spa industry manufacturers are speaking with one voice and are not displaying internal conflict. It is likely to take a number of months before the pool and spa issue will be brought to a CEC hearing for action. In the meantime, these regulations will not be enforced."


• Linden, Utah-based Coverstar was named Utah's Manufacturer of the Year by the Governor's Office of Economic Development and Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a nonprofit group with a government mandate to boost manufacturing in the state.

• Carter Keithley, president of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), will leave that post May 1 to become the president of the Toy Industry Association. A search committee will be appointed by the incoming chairman, Jerry Scott, and an executive search consultant will also be retained.

Cal Spas, Pomona, Calif., recently named John Hirschler, owner of The Spa Shop in New Orleans, one of its top dealers. Hirschler was presented with the first-ever Spirit Award for courage and perseverance in the face of adversity and the Bronze Award for excellence in sales.

• Hayward Pool Europe, a subsidiary of Hayward Pool Products, Elizabeth, N.J., has purchased the heat pump business from SDEEC, a French manufacturer.

• Nearly 200 participants attended Independence, Ore.-based Marquis Corp.'s International Dealer Conference in Los Cabos, Mexico in January. The company awarded The Spa Brokers of Colorado, in Aurora, the Marquis Cup as the company's top dealer. The Retail Salesman of the Year was awarded to Gary Moreira of Treasure Coast Spas, Jensen Beach, Fla.

• The National Swimming Pool Foundation's Aquatic Safety Compendium CD received a positive review in Alert Publications' Legal Information Alert newsletter.

Alert publishes specialty newsletters for business and legal researchers.

Pacific Industries, Latham, N.Y., recognized nine pool retailers with its Builder of the Year award and 16 with its Builder of Excellence award for 2005. The awards were announced at the Pacific Pools Showcase Conference held in Orlando, Fla., in January.

Inter-Fab, Tucson, Ariz., topped the corporate sponsorship list for the El Tour de Tucson charity cycling race for the second straight year in February. Inter-Fab sponsored a team of over 40 riders. It was the company's fifth consecutive year participating in the event.

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