Facing the future in the pool and spa industry

Scott Webb Headshot

It never hurts to look ahead.

Yes, at the moment the big economic indicators are still dropping, but the day is coming when the great American economic machine will roar to life again. It's good to keep that in mind, always.

It may be this fall, or it may be next year, heck, it may be the year after that, but it's coming. The headlines will once again speak of hiring and expansion and growth, and the almost palpable anxiety of the average consumer will be replaced with the same, equally-palpable confidence which led people to think that interest-only home loans were a reasonable idea in the first place.

Remember those days? They'll be back. The same elements that made us a great economic powerhouse will lead us back to prosperity. Amid all the dire warnings, that is one simple fact you can take to the bank. (Well, it's a fact anyway.)

Some people are already thinking of what the rebound in the pool and spa market will look like.

It will be a pared-back industry at that point, but it's also likely to be a more mature one in terms of its professionalism. As the sales numbers have dropped over the last 18 months or so, many of the less committed retailers and builders have dropped, as well.

Even strong companies have had to examine their operations and find innovative ways to help customers, often with reduced staffs. The downturn has applied pressure, and pressure forces businesses to focus.

The pool and spa industry that emerges on the other side of this recession is going to be made up of fewer, but better, salespeople, builders, managers and technicians.

It will be an opportunity to recast the industry's image in a way that many have hungered for.

Since the beginnings of the pool and spa industry, it's been plagued with dalliers, sloppy operators, even outright conmen - and the reputation with the general public that accompanies them.

For the people who have truly given themselves to this industry, made it their career, cared about it, tried to improve it, that has been a tough pill to swallow.

Their work has been worthy of respect, and yet that respect has been tarnished. When they've presented a bill for work competently and cleverly accomplished, there's been skepticism that other industries don't often see.

Well, most of the slackers have packed it in by now. Unfortunately, there are a good number of solid, dedicated men and women who will be lost from the industry as well before the recession is over, but what will remain, when the economy revs up again and we start building the next bubble, is a solid core of professionals.

They will have an opportunity to set some standards for competence and conduct that will help elevate the industry to a new echelon.

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