In The News: August 2006

Designing The Ultimate Backyard

A contest sponsored by HanleyWood Exhibitions will award one designer a trip to the International Pool & Spa Expo being held Nov. 57 in New Orleans.

An Ultimate Backyard Design Competition entry should include the design and construction of a distinct exhibit area that showcases a pool, spa or outdoor living product as it would be seen in an ideal background. The winning design will be showcased at the International Pool & Spa Expo, being held in the Morial Convention Center.

Those entering must submit a scale drawing of a 50-by-80-foot backyard. Proposals can incorporate any of the following components: an in-ground vinyl-liner pool or above-ground pool, a portable spa or hot tub, a gazebo, patio furniture, a grill, a chimnea or patio heater, decking and pathways, fountains, ponds or water features and statuary. The winning design will be chosen based on design development, creativity, style and potential for viability in the backyard.

The winning designer will receive a trip to the International Pool & Spa Expo, including roundtrip airfare to New Orleans, two nights in a hotel and a Super Pass, which allows for entry to all seminars and special events being held at the Expo.

To download an entry form, go to poolandspaexpo.com and click the "TUB Design Competition" button. Entries are being accepted through May 5, although late entries may be accepted. Call to request an extension. Submit entries to The Ultimate Backyard, P.O. Box 612128, Dallas, TX 75261-2128.

For additional information, contact Kim Rogers at 972/536-6353.

Pentair Pool Products Acquires Letro Products

Pentair Pool Products, Sanford, N.C., has added to its recent string of acquisitions with the purchase of the assets of Letro Products, Redding, Calif.

This is the eighth acquisition Pentair has completed in as many years, says Bill Whitehurst, vice president and general manager of Pentair. He says Pentair's last acquisition prior to January's purchase of HydroTemp was in 1999 when the company purchased Kreepy Krawly.

Whitehurst says Pentair's strategic plans for the next three to five years include acquisitions, market growth, market-share gain and new-product development.

Letro will remain in California until September, when it will transition to North Carolina. Whitehurst says all 80 employees have been notified of the purchase, although he is unsure how many of them will be given the opportunity or will be interested in moving with the business. In September, Pentair will move Letro to its facility in Sanford, where it will join the automatic pool cleaner product team. Ted Havens will manage the new Cleaner/System Product Team and will oversee the transition.

The Letro acquisition brings the Legend, JetVac and The Boss brand pressure-side automatic swimming pool cleaners into Pentair's product lineup. Letro also manufactures accessories such as skimmer lids and thermometers, automatic water fillers, flow meters and replacement parts. Annual sales for Letro total approximately $8 million. Pentair purchased the company's assets for an undisclosed amount.

"We are very excited at having completed this acquisition, and are thrilled to have this company, these people and that product line as a part of our business," Whitehurst says. 

Anthony & Sylvan Reports 2002 Year Results

Anthony & Sylvan Pools Corporation, Mayfield Village, Ohio, recently announced the results for its fourth quarter and full year, which ended Dec. 31, 2002.

Net sales from continuing operations for the year were $158.39 million, a 5.5 percent decrease from the $167.67 million reported in 2001. Net income from continuing operations for 2002 were $1.05 million compared to $2.74 million in 2001.

Fourth quarter net sales from continuing operations ended with $30.17 million as compared to $33.88 million at the end of the 2001 fourth quarter. The net loss from continuing operations for the fourth quarter was $1.60 million, or $0.31 per share. This compares with a net loss from continuing operations in the fourth quarter of 2001 if $895,000, or $0.16 per share.

"With a weak economy and low consumer confidence, we had a challenging year in 2002," says Stuart Neidus, the company's chairman and CEO. "Having said that, we accomplished many good things during the year, including strengthening our infrastructure and raising consumer awareness of the value that we add to each and every sale."

Chemical Prices Increase As Energy Cost Rises

Occident al Chemical Corporation, Dallas, recently increased its price on chlorinated isocyanurates to reflect rapidly escalating energy costs, the company says. The price of all grades of ACL 90 TriChlor have increased $0.10 per pound, while all DiChlor grades of ACL 56 and ACL 60 have increased $0.05 a pound.

SCP Pool Reports Fiscal 2002

Results SCP Pool Corporation, Covington, La., recently reported record net sales and net income for 2002, which ended Dec. 31, 2002. Net sales for the year increased $129 million, or 15 percent, to $983.2 million, compared to $854.2 million in 2001. Base business growth of 10 percent contributed $84.5 million to the increase, while acquired service centers and service centers consolidated with acquired locations accounted for the remaining increase. Same-store sales growth was also 10 percent in 2002.

Gross profit for the year increased $34.6 million, or 16 percent, to $255.5 million. This increase was primarily due to the increase in net sales, company officials say. Its gross profit margin increased 10 base points to 26 percent, from 25.9 percent for the same period in 2001.

Cash flow from operations in 2002 was $59.2 million compared to $26.8 million in 2001. This increase in cash flow from operations is due to increased net earning and reduced pre-payments of inventory purchases with extended terms.

Net sales for the fourth quarter increased $27.4 million, or 21 percent, to $159 million from $131.6 million in the fourth quarter in 2001. Base business sales growth of 11 percent contributed $15 million to the increase, while acquired service centers and service centers consolidated with acquired locations accounted for the remaining increase. Same-store sales grew 10 percent in the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarters of both 2002 and 2001, the company reported a net loss of $0.15 per share. Excluding the 2002 dilutive impact of the Fort Wayne acquisition and goodwill amortization in 2001, the net loss per diluted share decreased to $0.11 in 2002, down from $0.14 in 2001.

Manuel Perez de la Mesa, president and CEO for the company, has a positive outlook for 2003.

"With our execution and normal weather conditions, we are confident in our ability to generate $1.95 in 2003 earnings per share," he says. "In addition, we estimate that our cash flow from operations will approximate our net income as it has o n a cumulative basis over the past several years."

BioLab Acquires Lime-O-Sol

BioLab, Decatur, Ga., acquired the Lime-O-Sol Company, Ashley, Tenn., on March 1. Terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

Lime-O-Sol is a manufacturer of household cleaning products with 2002 sales of more than $40 million. It sells its products directly to consumers under the brand name The Works, and BioLab says it will continue to operate Lime-O-Sol's manufacturing and distributing activities in the 173,000-square-foot facility in Ashley.

Aquascape Designs Purchases Water Creations

Aquascape Designs, Batavia, Ill., recently purchased Water Creations, Des Moines, Iowa.

Water Creations is a $16 million corporation formed in 1989 to supply water-gardening products to garden centers. Under this acquisition, its name will be changed to Nursery Pro, the exclusive brand name for its products.

According to The Aquascaper, a quarterly magazine produced by Aquascape Designs, the entire Water Creations sales force in the United States and Canada, along with its customer support staff, have been given the opportunity to continue their employment with the company.

Aquascape Designs, a wholesale manufacturer and supplier of pond filtration systems, formed in 1991 with a division that installed ponds. It has since evolved into two more divisions: wholesale supply, and training and education. For the last three years in a row, Aquascape says it has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 fastest-growing, privately held companies in America.

Consumers Digest Names Dimension One, Watkins "Best Buy"

Consumers Digest named the AquaFit 19 Dual Temp Spa by Dimension One Spas, Vista, Calif., a portable spa "best buy" in its April 2003 issue. Measuring 19 feet long and 8 feet wide, the AquaFit 19 Dual Temp is equipped with both a fitness pool and a hot tub that are separated by a wall, and is recognized by Consumers Digest as "a product that offers outstanding value for its price."

The magazine also awarded Watkins Manufacturing a "best buy" for its Vanguard Spa in the April issue, saying the product, "offers many popular features and good performance," for its price.

Technicians Earn NSPI Tech II Status

Ten members of NSPI Region IX recently completed the training and exam required to earn Tech II status in NSPI's Service Technician program.

Completing the course and successfully passing a comprehensive exam were Peter White of Aquatime Pools and Spas, Tyngsboro, Mass.; Matthew Langone of Underwater Pool Masters, West Boylston, Mass.; Gary Hier of Periscope Pools, Leominster, Mass.; Derek Schmitke and Brian Pynn of Guarino's Swimming Pool Service, Chelmsford, Mass.; Mary A. Peters, Steven B. Rothmel and James V. Miranda of the Swimming Pool Center, Lawrence, Mass.; and Leo Trainor and Richard Taylor of Blue Dolphins Pools and Spas, Bedford, N.H.

The five-day course, which was held in Peabody, Mass., is the second of three levels in the NSPI service technician training program, which leads to the Certified Service Professional designation.

Study: Hearth Appliances On The Rise

According to a survey conducted in the fall of 2002 by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, Arlington, Va., called the HPBA Fireplace and Freestanding Stove Usage and Attitude Study, approximately 50 percent of homeowners in the United States — 53 million total households — have at least one hearth appliance. A total of 1,484,391 hearth appliances were shipped in the United States in 2002, and although this is a 6 percent decline from 2001, it is a 98 percent increase from 1992, HPBA says.

The study, which consisted of 6,780 completed surveys, also suggests that people believe hearth products add value to their homes, are important in future home-buying decisions, and that heating efficiency and fuel types are important.

According to Carter Keithley, CEO and president of HPBA, new products on the market, such as electronic fireplaces, combination fireplaces and fountains, insect repellants and heaters are helping to create a comfortable outdoor room for homeowners.

"[This] is a trend we see growing, and there is additional potential for growth," he says.

The 2003 Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Expo, held in Nashville, Tenn., March 6-8, can attest to this growth. The show saw a 17 percent increase in attendance over the 2002 show, according to show managers.

The show set records with 11,342 attendees, 419 exhibiting companies, 180,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibits, and hundreds of new products.

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