Bill Kent is leading the charge against one of the top industry scourges.
The state of Florida requires anyone who builds pools, or repairs and replaces pool pumps for compensation, to maintain a license. However, there’s little in the way of enforcement.
So Kent, the CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Team Horner, a manufacturer and distributor of pool supplies, launched a new campaign that intends to sway homeowners away from hiring illegal contractors.
“I think it’s been growing, especially in the last ten years or so, because I hear more complaints about it,” he said.
Because local authorities can do only so much, Horner’s campaign urges consumers to report unlicensed activity at its website stopunlicensedpoolcontractors.com, which links directly to the state’s Department of Business & Professional Regulation. Legitimate pool professionals can sign up to receive a kit that includes a shirt and hat bearing the logo, “Pledge to Police,” plus materials designed to raise awareness — statement stuffers, door hangers, posters, truck decals, beach balls — that they can distribute to customers.
The idea, said Kent, is to start a conversation between the professional and the homeowner, hopefully presenting the contractor an opportunity to justify why his costs are higher than unlicensed competitors who are not insured and don’t pay taxes.
Kent charged Team Horner’s marketing department to design the campaign “as though we were launching a new product,” he said, although nothing is branded Team Horner. He estimates he’s spent $28,000 so far.
Unlicensed pool and spa contractors are occasionally caught and prosecuted. Earlier this year, a paver company was convicted of trying to build a pool for a homeowner in Cape Coral. They were asking $47,500.