With the November elections shifting the power balance in Washington, D.C., many pool and spa professionals have high hopes for more small-business-friendly policies and a boost in consumer confidence.
“It’s a very positive move for the pool industry,” said Brian McGarry, president of Sapphire Signature Pools in Irmo, S.C. “I think over the next 18 months, we’ll see significant progress toward people purchasing pools and pool equipment.”
With a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and more Senate seats going to the GOP, many in the industry expect to see less regulation and lower taxes.
“They’ll go back to being a little more lenient on small businesses for sure,” said Keith Ainsworth, co-owner of Nationwide Pool Supply in Las Vegas. “We think that with the Republican House in there, at least they’re not going to annihilate us with new regulation. ... Before, it just felt very negative toward us as productive business owners, and we were very concerned.”
Pool and spa professionals also hope the election results inspire more confidence all around. Some believe that if the government eases taxation and regulation, banks will loosen their funds and begin financing again.
It’s also hoped that the change will put consumers more at ease about spending. “I think there are a couple of key issues that are going to influence customer confidence,” McGarry said. “It’s all got to be demonstrated in things like reducing the amount of debt the country is incurring, and I think investment in small business has got to manifest as well.”
This has already come to fruition in some areas, where professionals report an increase in customer inquiries during November, traditionally a slow month.
“We have had a lot more activity,” said Jeff Gale, president/CEO of Pacific Pools & Construction in Meridian, Idaho. “For the first time in quite awhile, we’re getting contacts to build new pools, rather than doing remodels or fix-ups.”
Others say their own confidence has increased. Ainsworth, for instance, signed leases to open two more stores. “We wouldn’t have done that had the election not gone the way it went,” he said. “It gave us a lot more confidence. Now I feel like [government] won’t go unchecked, that they’re not going to crush us.”
Others across the nation aren’t ready to celebrate just yet. Many wanted a more definitive shift to the right, while others believe government can only do so much to fix the current economic situation.
“I’m not expecting things to change very quickly,” Gale said. “I had noticed the [increase in sales calls], but I’m not going to count on that continuing. Maybe it’s a short-term situation. We’re hunkering down for a long-term recovery.”
If nothing else, he hopes the new results put elected officials’ feet to the fire. “People are sick and tired of this economy, and they want to move forward,” he said. “I think the Republicans and Democrats will have to sit down and finally find that common ground they keep talking about and do something about it.”