No-fuss backyard deliveries are the bread and butter of most hot tub dealers. But every once in a while, an installation comes along that makes it into the memory books.
Whether the sale involves a treacherous winter trek or a very deserving client, every dealer has at least one tale that made a lasting impact on the way they do business.
Here, a handful of hot tub professionals from across the country share their stories.
Nate Buchan, general manager of retail and marketing Brown’s Pools & Spas Douglasville, Ga.
When you learn that your next hot tub delivery will be on the roof of a 35-story building, you know your day won’t be easy. A couple of years ago we were charged with bringing a spa to the roof of the Mayfair Renaissance building in Atlanta — while being filmed for the HGTV show “Ground Breakers.” Having the cameras there certainly heightened the need to not mess up!
We discussed bringing the spa in by helicopter, or using a system to lift it from outside. Ultimately we decided to take it to the roof via a service elevator, with only an inch or two of clearance.
Getting the spa into the elevator at the lobby level wasn’t a big problem, but getting it back out for the final ascent proved more complex. The elevator opened into a hallway that was only 3 or 4 feet wide, and the angles just barely worked. If the wall had been two inches closer, the spa probably would have stayed in there for good.
Once we managed to wrangle the tub out of the tight space, we had to remove the railing of a split-level staircase and tilt the spa to fit up the stairwell. At one point, there were five or six of us holding the spa completely in mid-air. A couple of times, the tub was in a pretty precarious position, and I was afraid we’d have a damaged vessel that we couldn’t repair, stuck someplace where we couldn’t get it down. But eventually we got that spa onto the roof in one piece.
Standing up there, looking over Atlanta, was another moment to add to my list of experiences in the pool and spa industry. That’s what I like about this kind of work — the variety that makes my job fun. A year later, I was back on the same roof, installing another spa for a neighbor that the original customer had referred to us. This time, we knew what to expect.
Brian Klausen, owner BK Contracting Prior Lake, Minn.
My company has worked with Valley Pools & Spas in nearby Burnsville, Minn., for quite a while, and they’ve always been active when it comes to donations of spas or aboveground pools.
I’ve been lucky enough to donate my delivery services for five or six spas as part of their work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and last year I participated in an especially touching delivery to a young girl named Callie.
Callie was born with a condition called Trisomy 18, and she’s had many health hurdles in her 15 years of life. She’s wheelchair bound, and her developmental level is that of a 6-month-old baby.
Callie’s family is very close and supportive, and they were so excited for her to receive this hot tub. Her siblings were all there watching me install it, and her dad pitched in to help get the tub up onto a 5-foot deck.
Callie looked so happy! Later on, the family sent a letter to the company that read, “As part of a busy family, Callie often has to come along for the ride whether she likes it or not. Her enjoyment is usually minimal while sitting at [her siblings’ activities]. But since receiving her hot tub, Callie gets to have an activity all her own.”
Helping out gives me so much satisfaction, I guess that’s bred into me — I’m a Christian, so I like to give back. I’ve been blessed with a good job, which gives me the ability to make a difference.
Shawn Maynard, co-owner Bullfrog Spas of Ogden Ogden, Utah
We live in a mountain state, so a lot of our deliveries are to ski resorts, cabins and other remote areas. Even in the best weather, almost every shipment involves four-wheel drive. So things can get a little trickier when you add snow to the equation.
In the winter of 2010, we had a spa delivery scheduled up in the mountains. It had snowed two feet already that day, and we were in the throes of a storm when we drove up the 5-mile private driveway to the site.
It had been sunny the day before, and the snow on the south-facing driveway had melted and refrozen as ice. The van we were in couldn’t make the trip, so we had to head back down the mountain and load up the Jeep instead. The homeowners even had to park part-way up, and use snowshoes to get to their house.
Once we made it up the driveway, it was still another half-mile to where the spa would sit. A couple of us dragged the tub on a plastic toboggan made just for snow deliveries, and we finally got it into place. It snowed another foot after we finished.
We have a video of a winter delivery like that one posted on YouTube. Every day in winter, customers used to come into the store and say, “We want to buy a spa in the spring when you can bring it.”
They just assumed that we couldn’t deliver it in winter, although the cold months are when people in our area tend to use their spas the most. Now people know that we can get them a spa year-round, and it has given us a great bump in our business between Christmas and spring.
Josh Kemerling, general manager Georgia Spa Co. Buford, Ga.
The North Georgia Mountains can be difficult in the best of circumstances. So I knew we were in for a challenge when the customer told us, “I bought a mountain and built my house at the top.”
When we learned the deck hovered about 12 feet off the ground, on the sloping side of the property no less, we prepared for a tough job. But this one proved to be even trickier than I’d bargained for.
We’ve done mountainside deliveries before, and I was thinking about using a crane for this installation.
But with each sharp twist and turn we encountered driving up this particular mountain, I realized a crane was not an option. I also knew that if we didn’t deliver the spa, the customer would find someone else to get it up there.
The second we stepped onto the client’s property we started on a game plan. The terrain below the deck was steep and rough, so there weren’t a lot of alternatives.
Luckily, we had a secret weapon — a tool called the Spa Winch that has helped in many precarious situations. With it, we created a ramp up to the side of the deck, and slowly but surely coaxed the spa up the incline until we could pull it onto the flat surface above.
It’s quite a sight to see a huge spa weighing hundreds of pounds floating in the air on just two narrow pieces of metal. You’d think gravity wouldn’t allow it, but we made it work, and the homeowner said he’d never seen anything like it before. It was definitely a big accomplishment.