One of the largest makers of aboveground pools is stepping out of the water.
Delair Group, LLC, announced that it will discontinue its line of aboveground and semi-inground pools, including the Esther Williams, Infinity and Johnny Weismuller brands. However, the company will continue its line of fencing products and honor warranties on existing pools, according to industry sources.
“This was a very difficult year for most aboveground manufacturers as well as retailers,” said Tony Sirco, president of Radiant Pools, a manufacturer in Albany, N.Y. Sales in the 2009 season were slowed by a wet summer nationwide as well as reduced credit and financially troubled retailers, he added.
But Delair’s troubles may have started earlier. Shapes/Arch Holdings, Delair’s parent company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2008. The move came on the heels of a steep decline in sales figures as the firm’s 2006 revenue of $322 million fell by nearly $50 million the following year. The Pennsauken, N.J.-based company has since emerged from bankruptcy after being acquired by HIG Capital last August.
The news of Delair’s impending departure from the pool market came as a surprise and disappointment for long-time dealers.
“[Delair was] probably one of the best manufacturers we could have worked with,” said Joan Struckhoff, co-owner of Prestige Pools and Spas in St. Louis. “They really met our needs well.”
Delair was regarded as a higher-end product, and Prestige often sells on quality, she added.
However, the higher cost was also a concern for some dealers as many customers have become increasingly price-conscious.
“This year we brought in a less expensive pool [line] just because of the economy,” said Stacey Benning, vice president of Gene Lilly Pools & Spas, an Esther Williams dealer in Pasadena, Md.
In addition to pool fencing that it will continue to produce through its Delair subsidiary, Shapes/Arch makes truck, construction and hardware components.
Phone calls to Delair were not returned by press time.