Introduction: 2014 State of the Industry Issue

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Scott WebbEvery year in late spring we get out the camera, take a step back, adjust the focus and take a picture of the pool and spa industry. We ask people about their jobs — how they’re doing, what’s working, what’s not working, what should be changed and what is just great the way it is. Year after year, they respond with amazingly thoughtful opinions and great stories.

Like this one, from a service pro about his favorite customer, “a rags-to-extreme-riches man who unfortunately passed away about a year ago. We had a control board issue with his pool heater and it was only a couple years old. The $400 to fix it was not even drop in the bucket for this guy, but I still wanted his authorization. When I called, it turned out he was out in the Caribbean on his 180’ boat. His exact words: ‘In 40 years of owning various swimming pools in various places, yours is the only company I have ever trusted. So yes, fix the heater. And for the future, you fix anything you feel needs to be repaired and don’t worry about what it costs. I trust you 100 percent.’”

Or this one, from a builder looking for changes in consumer sentiment in an improving economy, “We are starting to see customers ‘compete’ with one another once again. We’ve had more people say, ‘Well, my friend/neighbor got a new pool and got some cool things and I was wondering if I could add that to my existing pool.”

My favorite this year was about the simple pleasure of the early morning: “Best part of my day? Driving to my first stop of the day on Dune road with a cup of coffee looking at the ocean.”

Never been to Dune road except when I read that.

This year, Bil Kennedy from P.K. Data graciously agreed to write an industry overview for SOI, which is included in today's enews. He makes some strong statements about where we are, not as individuals, but collectively. And he’s got some numbers to back it up.

Everyone should read this section, if you read nothing else in a trade magazine the rest of the year. He’s saying that the people we need to reach — the people who can bring back the good old days of the pool and spa industry — are moving toward industries that do a better job of self-promotion.

I’ve heard clever people in this industry say that we are incapable of doing that. Given the way we’re structured, they say, and given the amount of distrust between companies and different product segments, there’s no way we can work together for the common good the way other industries have. And of course they’re right. As long as our leaders are sure we can’t, we can’t.

Still, a lot of these same clever people are just hanging on, waiting for the good old days to come back. Mr. Kennedy and his Data are saying that if we don’t take them back, they’re going somewhere else.

Scott Webb

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