Spa and pool industry has grown up during the recession

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Scott WebbIs the recession ending? Is another one beginning? Nobody knows.

Confidence ticks up. Europe pulls us down. This economist is bullish. That one is bearish.

We soldier on, looking for something definitive. Waiting for the moment, sure to come, when that slight contraction of the muscles between the eyebrows dedicated exclusively to economic uncertainty begins to relax.

If you are reading this column, it means you're still in the game. You are the foundation of what will eventually emerge from the recession as the slimmer, and hopefully more mature, pool and spa industry.

Adversity is maturity's dad; and dad has been hard on us the last couple of years, no doubt. But deep down we know it's all part of growing up.

What might a grownup pool and spa industry look like?

It would be dominated by long-term thinking. Most of the glaring problems of the industry's past can be traced to the notion in an individual's mind that "I've got to seize this dollar, the one right here in front of me, by Washington's ears, today, and the devil take tomorrow."

That's what a builder is thinking when he low-balls a bid based on fairy tale expectations, then cuts corners to make it pay — or cuts out entirely.

That's what a retailer is thinking when she suggests in a slight undertone that a competitor's tub has problems with the pump.

That's what a service tech is thinking when he tells a pool owner that for $1,500 he can turn a chlorine pool into a "salt pool."

It's that kind of thinking, by some of our members, that's led to the reputation we have.

But frankly, a lot of the short-term thinkers are gone. There is a greater percentage of long-term thinkers in this industry now than at any time in recent memory. The future of the industry, and the reputation we have ten years from now, is in their hands.

Scott Webb

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