Before the ball dropped on 2013, Elizabeth, N.J.-based Hayward Industries added a new brand to its portfolio, acquiring pool cleaner manufacturer Poolvergnuegen based in Santa Rosa, Calif.
“Poolvergnuegen’s technology gives us more variety and choice of product platforms that we can offer customers,” said Stuart Baker, vice president of business development at Hayward.
Poolvergnuegen’s product line is primarily suction-side cleaners, with two and four-wheel models available. The firm also makes pressure-side cleaners, as well as parts and accessories for the products.
“While Hayward has a relatively strong position in [the cleaner] category, it’s often difficult to offer the choice and flexibility [that customers want],” Baker said. “Bringing the Poolvergnuegen platform products into the portfolio gives us some of that flexibility that we have been wanting.”
The interest is there from retailers of Hayward’s cleaners, too. “I love Hayward,” said Dale Howard, owner, Phoenix-based B&L Pools. “If anyone was going to acquire [Poolvergnuegen], I’m glad they did.”
While he said he likes market competition and this acquisition means losing some of that, he thinks Hayward will do a good job with the brand.
Pool cleaners first hit the market in the early 1980s, and have remained a steadily growing product category. While pools sold with installed cleaners saw a dip in market share during the recession, the aftermarket cleaner business remained relatively steady.
“Pool cleaners are shockingly robust,” said Daniel Harrison, president of Poolandspa.com, a Las Vegas-based Internet retailer. “It’s one of the few categories from the past 48 months that has showed a continued increase.” Of the cleaners he sells, he estimates about 75 percent are robotic models, while the other 25 percent are suction- and pressure-side.
As for Poolvergnuegen’s future, Baker was clear, saying that recognition was strong, especially in the West, and so Hayward intends to maintain the brand.
Dieter and Rosemarie Rief started Poolvergnuegen in Santa Rosa with their daughter, Manuela, about 10 years ago. “We were at a moment where we were either going to have to massively expand or sell,” said Manuela Rief, vice president before the acquisition.
Baker said the Rief family will be engaged with the business going forward. “[Rief] had ... been growing the business, but it had gotten to a scale where he could see that ownership under a company like Hayward would really take it to the next level, and he appreciated that,” Baker said.