Martin Hoffinger, a tireless crusader for the pool manufacturing industry and longtime head of aboveground pool-maker Doughboy, died on Jan. 23. He was 88.
As CEO of Hoffinger Industries, Marty, as he was best-known, was
revered as much for his willingness to speak out against frivolous
lawsuits and defects in the American legal system as he was for his
revolutionary pools and filtration systems.
“With his passion, he was able to protect the interests of a
lot of people in this industry,” said Mike Balek, owner of
Mr. B’s Pool Center Inc. in St. Louis, a Doughboy dealer
since the early 1980s. “The only thing he loved more than the
pool business was his wife, Lorraine. She was his
Hoffinger and Lorraine were married 66 years.
Until the time of his death, Hoffinger was active in his company as
well as the industry. He rarely passed up an opportunity to visit
with friends and colleagues at trade shows and events, including
the recent International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo in Las
“He was there in November, pounding the floors as
always,” Balek said. “And whenever you approached him,
he was genuinely excited to see you. He was just a wonderful
example of our industry.”
Hoffinger’s legacy dates beyond aboveground pools. In his
first business venture, he sold ice cream at age 14, with his
famous slogan, “Be a Smarty, Get it from Marty.”
“He was a classic entrepreneur ever since he was a small
child,” said Doug Hollowell, president of Hoffinger
Industries in Olive Branch, Miss. “He was definitely an
innovator. And he would often say, ‘You can always sell
quality and value, in any economy.’”
About 10 years later, Hoffinger and Lorraine founded Lomart
Industries, a small tool and die company in Brooklyn, N.Y. The pair
toiled for several years until one day, in 1954, Hoffinger decided
to buy an aboveground pool, a status symbol at the time.
His frustration with its maintenance, however, led the young
businessman to develop a filter for the vessel — and
Hoffinger Industries was born.
Hoffinger would go on to acquire the Clinton Engine Co. in 1966,
followed by Doughboy Recreational in 1974.
Over the years, some of Hoffinger’s toughest battles took
place in the courtroom, where he was a vocal proponent of tort
reform, or proposed changes to the civil justice system that would
curb litigation and damages.
“I think he took a hit for a lot of the companies around
here,” Balek said in reference to a pair of
multimillion-dollar verdicts against Hoffinger’s company in
separate product-liability cases in 1995 and 2001.
Hundreds of mourners turned out for Hoffinger’s Jan. 27
memorial service at Temple Judea in West Palm Beach, Fla.
In addition to Lorraine, he is survived by three daughters, eight
grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.