Category Added in a WPeMatico Campaign
Seauto, a leader in smart, autonomous pool cleaners, announced two additions to its collection of robotic pool cleaners: Shark and Seal.
Both are fully autonomous with smart route planning powered by sonar technology — a first in the robot pool-cleaning industry — that enables them to clean pools thoroughly and efficiently.
“We’re excited to unveil these two industry-first, sonar built-in autonomous pool cleaners to the public ahead of Memorial Day, so pool owners can kick off the unofficial start of summer knowing their pool will be clean and ready for enjoyment,” says Paul Chen, general manager of Seauto USA.
Designed for all above-ground and in-ground pools up to 2,150 square feet, they work with flat and bowl bottoms and feature a high filtration system with super suction power that easily removes debris.
With one press of a button, Shark and Seal are ready for duty, scaling curved walls to clean and scrub the pool. Seal retails for $699, while Shark, with its ability to scale 90-degree walls, baja shelves and steps, retails for $999. Both are available at seautorobots.com.
Featuring long-lasting lithium batteries, Seal can be in action for up to two and a half hours and automatically docks to power up in as little as one and a half to two hours, while Shark runs for up to three hours and powers up in as little as two to two and a half hours.
Their advanced filter tray filters down to 250 µm to catch all types of debris including dust, gravel, dirt, leaves and more. Both robots are highly accurate with an industry-leading flow rate of 18 gallons per minute and are designed to easily clean and remove debris after each cycle. The Shark model has an extra cartridge with cotton foam inside.
“With Seal and Shark’s high filtration system, powerful suction and ability to scale curved walls to clean and scrub your pool up to the waterline, you’ll be able to sit back and relax while they do all the hard work,” Chen says.
Both models feature the following:
- Weekly scheduler via the Seauto app (iOS and Android)
- Floor cleaning
- Enhanced waterline cleaning
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Voice and light prompts
- Free delivery in the U.S.
- Two-year replacement warranty
- Includes charger, retrieval hook and user manual
Shark and Seal join Roker Plus, introduced by Seauto in March. Roker Plus is a cordless, rechargeable pool-cleaning robot that features the world’s first AI path planning. The Roker Plus automatically scans the size and shape of a pool, plans a route and cleans.
The Roker Plus is designed for above-ground and inground pools up to 753 square feet and works best on pools with flat bottoms. With no hoses or cords, it is ready out of the box to drop in the pool and get to work cleaning, no assembly required. Roker Plus retails for $358 with a filter and $329 without a filter at seautorobots.com.
The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance’s launch of its jobseeker website, WorkInAquatics.com, and job board made exclusively for PHTA member companies, careers.WorkInAquatics.com, marks a major milestone for the trade association.
The cornerstone of the program is the consumer website, which provides job seekers with information about the industry, including in-demand positions, career tracks, earning potential, personal success stories and more. PHTA members are invited to create employer profiles and post jobs free of charge.
PHTA leadership first revealed plans for the program, known as the Pool Professionals Pipeline, at its board meeting last November. Alongside its experienced steering committee of industry experts, PHTA developed the program to enhance jobseeker awareness of the aquatics industry and to meet demands for new talent amid member concerns over the labor shortage and the compounded effects of the pandemic.
“The pool and hot tub industry is awash with potential for growth, but like many other industries today, we are limited due to the shortage of skilled labor and younger generations of workers entering trades such as ours,” says PHTA president and CEO Sabeena Hickman. “The importance of this program cannot be understated — we heard our members’ concerns loud and clear, and we’re proud to finally unveil this next step in our plan to welcome jobseekers to our industry.”
Along with the jobseeker website and job board, the program will be supported by a social media presence on Facebook and LinkedIn, public relations, advertising campaigns and ongoing content development of videos, new resources and other assets. PHTA members can expect additional resources and ways to expand their visibility among today’s active jobseekers.
But the work for PHTA and the industry is just beginning.
“To truly make a splash, we must prioritize investing in recruiting and training a new pool of candidates to join our industry,” Hickman says. “Having a visible presence and voice out there advocating for our industry is vital for our continued growth and success. PHTA is committed to supporting this jobseeker awareness campaign for the long term — and ultimately, to driving engaged and qualified candidates to our members to find their new careers.”
To learn more about PHTA’s program and access exclusive resources and opportunities, visit phta.org/workforce or contact [email protected].
Automatic Pool Covers, Inc., based in Westfield, Indiana, has developed the next-generation PowerTouch automatic pool cover controller. This industry-exclusive technology is 100% tool-less providing one-finger torque limit adjustment. Rather than having to lift heavy auto cover lids, this system allows users to make adjustments with the touch of a finger in seconds. With backlit buttons, the PowerTouch is easy to see by day and night. The controller now also has easy-to-read “open” and “close” buttons and a simple checkmark button making it more intuitive to operate.
New and improved Stain Drop No. 2 is a specialty, acid-based treatment designed to eradicate scale from surfaces. Scale removal is one of the more difficult problems to resolve in pool care and can require draining a pool, but Stain Drop No. 2 provides an alternative solution within 2-14 days. It’s available in convenient five- and 10-pound sizes and effectively removes copper and scale from pool surfaces.
Pool professionals continue to search for ways to install more pool in less time while also offering superior pool interior finish options for their clients. One proven European solution is quickly picking up speed in the US—a gorgeous, reinforced PVC pool interior finish that looks like slate, marble, granite and traditional gunite. Three builders share their experiences with adding this product into their business offerings.
Many in our industry know David and Robert Hobaica, the second-generation owners of Easton Pool & Spa, Inc., a Pool and Spa Top-50 Builder. The Hobaica brothers recently launched a new company that offers a smaller-sized, precast concrete plunge pool they call Plunge+ which they offer with a reinforced PVC that the team is convinced is the ultimate pool interior –providing a watertight, unsurpassed practical, durable, and beautiful interior pool finish. Bob Hobaica explains that the company recently honed-in on this reinforced PVC as a superior interior finish for their plunge pool. “I had read several articles about reinforced PVC for use in pools over the past few years and talked to installers who actively use this finish in commercial pools and learned that this is a proven product that has been used in residential pools for many years in Europe,” explains Hobaica. “So when RENOLIT approached me through LinkedIn, I was receptive to learning if this pool interior solution would work for the Plunge+ pool.”
To determine the viability of this reinforced PVC, Hobaica decided to use the material in his own 9ft x 21ft pool that he was building at his home. “RENOLIT came out and trained our construction crew on how to install this reinforced PVC interior finish, which is welded onsite in the pool,” explains Hobaica. “There is a bit of a learning curve to the installation. However, we were all super impressed with the durability and practicality of the product, not to mention that the company’s new TOUCH textures and colors are extremely attractive.”
Hobaica explains that the resilience of the reinforced PVC interior finish was unexpected. “After the pool’s interior was completed, I left the pool open and without water for almost five months while I worked on a complete backyard makeover. As a result, the pool interior was littered with rocks and dirt from the renovation but the material is so robust, it wasn’t affected AT ALL by the debris or the sun or lack of water,” says Hobaica. “This reinforced PVC interior finish is truly the best option for our new Plunge+ pool but it is also ideal for renovating pools as well. The material ships immediately from Indiana, is fast to install, eliminates the headaches associated with scheduling around weather conditions, holds up to freeze-thaw conditions and can be left without water for long periods of time,” says Hobaica. “It’s truly a superior interior that I would recommend to anyone building and renovating pools.”
Ontario Pool Coatings, Ontario
Similarly, Darren Borland is a pool renovation specialist that has been renovating and repairing residential and commercial pools for years but has always struggled with being able to meet the demand for all the requests he receives each year. Borland previously used only epoxy resin paints and thermoplastic coatings for his renovations. When he learned about the features and benefits of reinforced PVC, he realized the product would be the perfect complementary product to his company’s existing service offerings because it allows his company to take on any project, providing an opportunity to expand his business and renovate more pools every year.
“It’s a new addition to our toolbox,” says Borland. “With traditional pool coating renovation projects, we explain to the client that if their pool has a good structure, we can provide a good finish. But not all pools have a solid structure,” explains Borland. “With the reinforced PVC pool interior finish, we can take on renovation projects that are riskier. We can install the product on pools that are not perfectly built, as the reinforced PVC is more forgiving to movement and cracking and will still hold water to provide a complete waterproofing system regardless of future ground shifting.”
For Borland, adding the reinforced PVC pool interior finish into his offering has allowed the company to take on projects they were not able to perform previously; further allowing him to expand his business to a larger number of potential clients. “The reinforced PVC interior finish is a complete waterproofing solution even if the concrete shell shifts or cracks, the reinforced PVC will hold water regardless,” says Borland. “Clients, especially commercial clients, want something long-lasting that isn’t going to leak so they appreciate the additional insurance the reinforced PVC interior finish provides.” Borland explains that his commercial clients have been thrilled to know they no longer have to work on the pool surface year after year, as many had done previously. “Commercial pool operators understand the value of not having to constantly maintain the pool surface every year, as it saves time and money,” explains Borland. “Further, a better pool surface is appreciated by their swimmers and maintenance staff, not to mention the product is very attractive as it comes in slip resistant textures and finishes that elevate the look and feel of the pool.”
Borland and his team are seeing more pools experiencing cracking problems that, once inspected, are far deeper cracks than just on the surface. “In areas where new condos, big buildings, and other major construction is occurring, we’ve started to see ground disturbance and drainage concerns in many of our pool renovation projects,” says Borland. “Reinforced PVC pool interiors are the best solution for any potential underlying issues when renovating pools,” explains Borland. “For those looking to expand their business, reinforced PVC pool interiors can be the ideal addition to a pool professional’s offering.”
Ark Custom Pool and Spa, Kelowna, B.C
ARK Custom Pools has been installing reinforced PVC interiors for many years on commercial pools but is now finding the product to be rapidly expanding into the residential market, especially now that the product is available in new attractive textures and finishes. Solmundson says that once trained on how to install the product, it’s a terrific way to retain and keep workers busy year-round. “What I’ve found is that pool pros don’t realize how easy it is to install this product and there are very low-barriers to entry as you don’t need to invest large amounts of money for equipment and you don’t need to have the material in stock, as we simply order rolls of material for each job which is shipped from a warehouse in LaPorte, Indiana,” says Solmundson. “There is a learning curve, obviously, like anything else, but compared to other types of equipment repairs, it is a much faster learning curve.” Solmundson explains that the main skill is the welding, which is the easiest. “The more intricate parts like stairs and corners are more complicated, so this is where RENOLIT offers assisted installation training, which is the best way to train your crew” says Solmundson.
As pool builders desperately look at ways to retain their best workers throughout the winter, learning how to install the reinforced PVC interior is the perfect way to keep crews busy year-round. Solmundson says his crews are busy all winter installing these membranes on indoor pools. “We try to save all of our indoor jobs for the winter so we keep our crews busy year round doing indoor residential installations as well as indoor installation at hotels, athletic clubs and HOAs,” says Solmundson. “This reinforced PVC interior pool finish really smooths out the seasonality of pool building and renovation, making it a great addition to any pool business.”
Solmundson explains that these new colours and textures help his business stand out from competitors because it’s unique and this pool interior really enhances and blends beautifully with today’s popular decking and coping treatments. “Reinforced PVC is a commercially rated product so it’s ideal for all those facilities looking to fix leaking and deteriorated pools and stop the cycle of annual patching, painting and resurfacing,” says Solmundson. “And with the new European textures and finishes, both commercial and residential pools are instantly given a designer look with the benefit of also solving the problems caused by freeze-thaw conditions of outdoor aquatic facilities, like cracking in the structure, making the pool watertight.”
Other types of commercial aquatic facilities, plus indoor and elevated pools, are also interested in the new colours and textures, in addition to a long-term watertight solution.
“With these new stone and marble patterns, colours, and finishes, we are seeing more and more hotels, athletic facilities, and wellness spas who want a more attractive look that enhances the architectural design of the facility,” says Solmundson. “The white marble product, for example, gives the pool a really high-end, luxury look and feel and it’s also perfect for large commercial pools as well as spas and soaking tubs used in wellness centres, health spas, athletic facilities, and resorts.”
These three pool professionals agree that RENOLIT’s designer reinforced PVC interior is the perfect addition to any pool business—whether for new construction or renovation. This product helps pool professionals stand out from competitors and opens new opportunities to grow their market and increase their profits.
Every Child a Swimmer has successfully lobbied in Georgia and Arkansas for legislation requiring every school to provide parents with water safety information and the location of local swim school resources. The governors of both states signed the bills in May.
Every Child a Swimmer, a program run by the nonprofit corporation International Swimming Hall of Fame, advocates for life-saving legislation and provides grants to swim schools serving in-need communities.
The state of Florida was the first to pass this legislation in 2021. The program’s ultimate goal is for all 50 states to pass similar bills.
To learn more about the program, visit everychildaswimmer.org or ishof.org.
The National Plasterers Council is bolstering the technical resources offered to members and pool professionals by adding personnel with technical expertise.
Jonathan Dongell, director of research and development at Pebble Technology International headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, has joined the NPC staff as a technical advisor to the council. He brings decades of expertise in the plastering industry and will work with the technical advisory committee and the research committee to develop technical materials, work on research projects and lend his knowledge to ongoing NPC efforts in education and training.
Assuming the role of technical advisory committee chair is Jeff McGalliard, president of JMK Associates Premier Pools & Spas in Souderton, Pennsylvania. McGalliard will lead the development of NPC technical materials and support NPC technical efforts. Assisting Jeff will be Jana Auringer, regional quality assurance manager at Pebble Technology International. Auringer will act as the vice-chair of the committee and continue her work of supporting NPC’s quest to provide the very best technical information for the plastering community.
Also new to NPC leadership is Philip Greggs, technical director at SGM in Pompano Beach, Florida. Greggs will be the chair of the NPC’s research committee starting with the 2023-24 committee season.
“With the many changes coming in cement formulas, now is the time for the NPC to investigate the ramifications of this change to the practice of plastering pools,” says NPC chairman Rob Romano, general manager for David Cooke Plaster Co., LLC in South Windsor, Connecticut. “Phil is the right person to lead this charge.”
Kent Westfall, with nearly 50 years of experience in the pool industry, will continue in his role as director of technical resources. Westfall will continue to teach classes, handle incoming technical inquiries and support NPC technical projects.
“The technical lineup at the NPC is stronger than ever,” Romano says. “We look forward to the technical expertise these folks bring to their new positions in the council and thank them for their help to the industry.”
Jeanette Horn may say she married into the pool business, but she has made Horn Family Pools fully hers and embraced the pool service industry.
“I just really enjoy it,” Jeanette says. “There’s always something to learn — it’s never monotonous.”
And it’s flexible. Thirteen years ago, Jeanette restarted a service company her husband and his business partner closed. At the time, their son JD Horn was young, and doing about 25 pools a week gave Jeanette plenty of time to chauffeur her son wherever he needed to go and made it easy to rework her schedule to fit his activities.
“I kept things very small because I was a mom who had a kid who was involved in everything, and my mom was also very dependent on me,” Jeanette says. “Once my son got old enough, he didn’t need me to run him around everywhere anymore, and I was able to grow.”
Now JD is enjoying the flexibility of the pool industry as well — he works for his mom and has been able to rework his schedule to spend time with his new baby. JD says having his mom for a boss doesn’t faze him; he’s used to her telling him what to do.
“It’s harder for me than it is for him,” Jeanette says. “Sometimes I want to put my mom hat on when I have to have my boss hat on. He does a great job — the customers love him.”
The company’s tagline is “Family values, professional service,” and while the family aspect is covered, Jeanette works hard to ensure they are providing the best experience for customers.
“She’s done all kinds of research,” JD says. “She’s put in a lot of time making sure she’s doing the right thing.”
Despite all the training, certifications and licenses, Jeanette still faces an uphill battle with some customers.
“When I first started, the customers I took on all knew my husband,” she says. “So, I got grandfathered in. They’re fine with me cleaning, but when it comes to the repairs, sometimes they want me to call my husband.”
“Sometimes they don’t take her seriously,” JD says. “She knows what she’s talking about. And because it didn’t come from a man, they didn’t take it seriously.”
Jeanette notices a lot more women in the industry now than when she started, and she’s noticed a change in men’s attitudes toward women coming into the industry. That being said, she’s still a bit of an anomaly in her area.
“There’s one [distribution] branch that I go into, and they’re like, ‘You’re the only female that comes in here that’s not picking up stuff for her husband,’ ” Jeanette says. “They just call me ‘pool girl,’ which is on my license plate.”
Horn Family Pools is on the precipice of needing to hire another employee, but Jeanette isn’t sure she’s ready to go down that path. Her goal is to create a sustainable business that she can pass on to JD.
“I would like it to be to a point where my son can take it and run with it,” she says. “And we can live off retirement.”
For now, Jeanette, who turns 50 next year, still loves what she does.
“I love being outside,” she says. “I’m getting older, so I appreciate the movement. And the actual cleaning of the pool — to me that’s very cathartic. It’s relaxing.”
GPS trackers are one of the fastest-growing devices on the market. The market size was worth $2.19 million in 2021 and is expected to be valued at $6.38 million by 2030, according to Straits Research. Using GPS trackers has helped many businesses manage its service vehicle fleets as it makes deliveries or performs services.
Pool companies are no exception to this trend. Across the U.S., these companies are placing GPS tracking devices into fleets to monitor driver performance and collect data that can measure growth or highlight areas that need improvement.
American Pool, the largest pool management company in the country, has approximately 700 vehicles operating across 31 locations in 17 states, according to Eric Rowell, director of risk management for Amenity Collective, American Pool’s parent organization. Rowell says American Pool decided to use GPS trackers after it began monitoring company assets.
“Like most companies, we have shifted from primarily using GPS to track assets to using it to improve driver behavior,” he says. “We use our vehicles frequently to transport material and equipment to our various client locations … So, GPS is a very integral part of what we do to help drive our safety culture.”
American Pool has been using the devices for about eight years, Rowell says, but it’s not the only company doing so. Others include Pearl Pools and Poolman Aquatics Group.
While these companies use trackers sold by Geotab and Land Air Sea Systems, American Pool turned to the Roswell, Georgia-based, GPS Trackit. Jeff Alsop, the manager solutions architect at GPS Trackit, says safety is at the core of its clients’ needs.
“Safety of their culture, their reputation, the community and then also their drivers safety, too,” Alsop says.
According to Alsop, safety is maintained by tracking the driver’s speeding, rapid acceleration, excessive braking and more. Even idle time is noted. GPS Trackit created an incentive program with a scorecard that uses data from the tracker to promote safe practices among pool company drivers.
This can lead to healthy competition among employees, Alsop says.
“What a lot of them will do is take our risk factor cards or our scorecards, do a weekly printout and put it in a break room, and you want to be at the top,” he says.
Alsop adds that once clients implement this program, there is a noticeable decline in speeding.
To Rowell, safety means more than just tracking driver’s speed; with GPS Trackit’s devices, he also monitors vehicle locations and identifies any driving behaviors that need correction.
“I monitor vehicles to determine where they’re located,” he says. “And that vehicles are being used for company purposes, so that they’re not being used after hours.”
Weekly reports are produced with American Pool that track and compare each of the company’s offices to see how well fleet drivers are doing. In the long run, those comparisons are used to address irregular driving behavior.
GPS Trackit’s customer service is the other piece that makes monitoring and comparing possible, according to Rowell.
“The primary thing that I like about GPS Trackit is their high level of customer service and their focus on the individual needs of our account,” he says. “We frequently have unique questions or challenges that their team can almost always help us come up with a unique solution. They’re very receptive to feedback.”
Despite the device’s benefits, there could be some downsides. Alsop says the trackers can be expensive, perhaps becoming a luxury for some businesses. However, without a system, a business with a truck fleet may struggle to know how well its drivers are doing.
Where do Alsop and Rowell see this technology five years from now?
Rowell says he looks forward to moving away from physical GPS devices that can become unplugged or damaged, instead using GPS technology built directly into vehicles by manufacturers. Alsop, though, is excited about the use of video technology.
“I think it’s going to be more commonplace as we move forward,” he says. “One of the No. 1 priorities for companies that I’ve seen is safety, and that inherently enhances your safety profile and your safety culture by adding in dash cams.”
I haven’t been this excited about an issue of the magazine in awhile. This is our second iteration of what we’re calling our “Power Women” feature where we highlight some of the amazing women leaders in our industry. It was such a hit last year that we’ll probably do it every year until you beg me to stop.
We also have a great article on commercial pool service featuring Precision Aquatics from San Diego. I didn’t write this article — those kudos go to Seraine Page — but Dustin and the guys from Precision were kind enough to meet up and show me around some of the properties they care for. I learned a ton, and honestly, they were fun to spend time with.
Finally, I’m thrilled to introduce Bethany Branscum as managing editor. She has already kicked our editorial team into high gear and is one of the reasons why I’m so happy with how this issue turned out. Additionally, our art director, Brittany Alloway, doesn’t often get a lot of public recognition, but these pages also look fantastic thanks to her. And not to forget — we’ve also added a new copy editor, Kaleigh Carroll. Can you tell we’ve been busy?
That being said, this issue feels like a fantastic way to start off the 2023 pool season. Best of luck, and we’ll see you on the other side.
Megan Kendrick, publisher
P.S. I was so humbled by all the kind words that people had for the magazine when we were at The Western Pool & Spa Show. Thank you so much for all the love and support!