The Evolution of Cover Lifting Devices

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Leisure ConceptsLess than a quarter century ago, spa cover lifting devices didn’t exist; today, they come standard with just about every spa and spa cover sold.

“There was a significant niche to be filled,” says Mike Genova, president of Spokane, Wash.-based spa accessories manufacturer Leisure Concepts and the man often credited with advancing the product category. In the late 1990s, he introduced the CoverMate 1 — a device made of black powder-coated aluminum tubing with easy-to-install, non-corrosive composite mounting brackets that made removing a spa cover easier than ever.

Prior to the CoverMate 1 prototype — first displayed at a 1997 pool and spa industry trade show in Chicago — the only device available commercially that could be described as a cover lifter was a four-sided anodized aluminum tube that pivoted at the bottom of the hot tub, allowing the operator to remove the cover by folding one half on top of the other. Dubbed the E-Z Lifter, it was marketed by Dimension One Spas and is still available today. Genova once worked as a sales rep at Dimension One and credits company Founder Phillip Salley for the creation of the cover lift category; Genova simply decided to take it to the masses.

“There wasn’t awareness or acceptance of a cover lift product in the retail world,” Genova remembers about the early days when he tried marketing the CoverMate 1 to dealers. “We would call a retailer and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got this cool thing called a cover lifter. And for $100 wholesale — $200 retail — you can help your customer have a better hot tub experience. You don’t really have to do anything other than start making money.’”

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Many dealers responded with “thanks but no thanks,” speaking for their customers when they told Genova spa owners didn’t mind pulling the cover off themselves and propping it up against a wall next to the spa.

Gradually, though, a handful of dealers began selling the CoverMate 1 to their customers after Leisure Concepts started shipping it in spring 1998. Other dealers scrambled to catch up and, according to Genova, the CoverMate 1 quickly became a top seller in the spa accessories category.

From there, more Leisure Concepts products followed: handrails, step systems, deck pads — all made in the U.S. and designed to bolster the spa accessories market. Over the years, the company also introduced additional cover lift models and variations to accommodate different user needs, multiple design aesthetics and specific spa brands.

In fact, the cover lift category helped propel Leisure Concepts from $150,000 in sales in 1998 to a $10 million manufacturer in 2005, Genova says.

Spa cover competition heated up, too, with many similar products produced overseas. “I learned a lot about patent law,” Genova laughs, adding that Leisure Concepts now produces a “new evolution” of cover lifts that are easier to use and look more sophisticated. As an example, he cites the CoverMate Vanish XL, which incorporates the lifter more aesthetically into the spa cabinet, provides a clutter-free appearance, smooth opening and closing with no bar, and unobstructed 360-degree views.

“Nobody in the industry was doing anything to champion the concept of spa accessories,” he says. “So we just kept introducing products that allowed dealers to add intrinsic value to the spa experience.”


This article first appeared in the February 2021 issue of AQUA Magazine — the top resource for retailers, builders and service pros in the pool and spa industry. Subscriptions to the print magazine are free to all industry professionals. Click here to subscribe.

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