The current economic crisis has been described as “unprecedented” and “historic.” Here, industry leaders weigh in, offering their own assessments of the situation and a few recommendations.
Ken Scheer, vice president, Calsaway Pool Services Inc., Tempe, Ariz.
I think [the bailout plan] is a joke because it’s not going to help the smaller companies and people who really need it. After everything I’ve been hearing about the [AIG retreat] with the manicures and pedicures, I’m very disappointed.
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. [The most important part of an effective response] needs to be taking care of the little guys who are affected by every small daily change, such as gas prices.
Our leadership must look at all the places we have failed before and avoid that, so we can become the America that everyone can look up to. We need to [study] the housing market, mortgages and health care, and see what we can do to help people, and not just control it for the sake of being in control. We pretty much need to start over.
Gene Fields, APSP board chairman, and president of South-West Independent Marketing, Santa Ana, Calif.
The only way [the bailout] will help the industry is to free up loans to buy real estate and pools. Contrary to what [many] are saying, I think there’s plenty of money out there. It’s just that they tightened up the requirements for obtaining loans, which should have been done a long time ago.
The relaxing of credit on home loans is what got us into this trouble in the first place.
I think there was a degree of panic [in the bailout]. The problem probably would’ve worked itself out. Our system has been in place for a long time, and it’s been pretty successful. We’ve been through hard times and good before.
Joe Musnicki, president, Ocean Spray Hot Tubs & Saunas, Westhampton Beach, N.Y.
I think [the U.S. government] made the right decision to step in at this point. I hope the mortgage-backed securities it bought will have value in the future, and their sales will transfer some of that money back to the taxpayer.
I’m sorry to see it come to this, but it’s not unusual for government to step in like this from time to time. In the ’70s, the government gave guarantees for loans made to Chrysler Corp., and taxpayers did get their money back when the company came back to full strength.
In the future, there should be more oversight on lending practices. We should use some of the old formulas that have worked over the years, such as the rule of no more than 30 percent of your gross income when it comes to financing your home.
Dave Allen, COO, Erickson Custom Pools & Spas, Daytona, Fla.
Regarding the bailout plan, I’m for anything that allows credit markets to loosen up. Credit is the No. 1 hurdle for us right now. We have 15 or 16 pool contracts signed and ready, but we just can’t finance them. There are customers who have money, but they don’t want to cash out their investments, so they are holding off until they get a loan.
The most beneficial part of the bailout to us, as a pool builder, is adding liquidity to the market. If the banks have the capital, they’ll be able to lend money and that will unfreeze the credit market. Normally, I’m not for any kind of government intervention. But this is an unprecedented time. Once this is over, our government needs to establish the proper oversight for banking institutions. But we should to go back to a free market.