With its second pool-industry acquisition, a relative newcomer to aquatics moves to become a top player in the field.
Olathe, Kan.-based engineering firm Terracon has purchased Rowley International, one of a few companies said to have birthed the aquatics-design industry.
Terracon entered the pool and spa market in 2014 with the acquisition of geotechnical and structural engineering firm Neil O. Anderson and Associates, based in Lodi, Calif. That company performed engineering services on pools and spas and began offering complete aquatics-design services in 2009.
Until the Anderson purchase, 50-year-old Terracon had focused on engineering services related to geotechnical, environmental, facilities and materials issues.
Upon acquiring Rowley International, a 40-year-old company started by industry pioneer William Rowley, Ph.D., Terracon doubled its aquatics business, said Neil Anderson, now a principal with Terracon.
Rowley has designed more than 675 major swimming pool complexes, including such high-profile projects as the 1984 Olympics pools and the restoration of historical landmarks such as the Rose Bowl and 1932 Olympics pools.
“Bill has an excellent reputation and portfolio of work that he has done over a long and illustrious career,” Anderson said. “He and … [the founders of Counsilman-Hunsaker] were the pioneers in the aquatic design business, and they kind of formalized the concept of an aquatic designer.”
Rowley has signed on with Terracon as a consultant, a post he will continue to hold from his Los Angeles-area offices.
“I was lucky beyond my imagination to be in the position to do this,” Rowley said. “They’re a fantastic company.”
He retains his consulting/expert witness firm, Rowley Forensics Engineering.
Terracon expects its size, with more than 140 offices in 40 states, to help quickly expand its aquatics reach. “We’ll move into other states because of the tool box that we now have access to,” Anderson said. “We stand to do well in remodel and retrofit work because we have extensive forensic experience, as well as materials and geotechnical experience.”
For now, Rowley International and Neil O. Anderson and Associates will remain separate brands, but will be replaced by Terracon’s once it has become established in the aquatics sector, Anderson said.
The aquatics-design arm will operate out of Terracon’s Concord, Calif., offices under the supervision of Noah Smith, a longtime key staffer with Anderson, and Trish Soto, an Anderson employee who had previously worked for Rowley.
“Trish worked for me for eight years, so I had somebody coming back in who knew my system and my culture, and it was almost seamless,” Rowley said.
A degreed mechanical engineer, Rowley started his firm in 1975 after having worked as director of engineering for historic pool-equipment manufacturer Swim Quip for 10 years. He was one of the first to extensively explore suction entrapment in pools, performing studies with himself as a test subject well before the problem received national attention. He has received industry recognition for that, as well as his studies on the influence of alcohol on diving and high-rate sand filtration.