John Kennedy, president of Elite-Weiler Pools, a Pool & Spa News Top Builder in Sarasota, Fla., believes in silver linings.
His argument: Florida probably is due for a healthy thinning of the herd anyway.
The area is overloaded with contractors, he said, and a large shakeout could serve as a cleansing of sorts.
Going back to 2004, Kennedy explained, the state of Florida had few provisions for specialty licenses. The result was that nearly everyone who touched a pool — plumbers, excavators, bricklayers — suddenly became licensed contractors.
So when construction took off, a glut of tradespeople flooded the market.
“There are just so many more of these people today who call themselves pool contractors offering their services,” Kennedy said. “And they’re capturing just enough of the market that a lot of the good companies can’t survive.”
As evidence, he pointed to Sarasota County, which saw 873 residential pool permits pulled in 2006. Compare that with 2008, when just 279 permits were granted.
“You’ve still got 30 percent more builders there today,” Kennedy added. “So when you say there’s going to be a bloodletting, that could be good news because many of the people going away probably don’t belong in this business to begin with.”