| ||COMPANY||SEGMENTS SERVED|
|1||Concord Pools and Spas||Storage|
|2||Riverbend Sandler Pols||Concrete & Gunite|
|3||Aegean Pools||Online Retail|
|5||J. Tortorella Swimming Pools||Photovoltaic Panels|
With sales from new construction taking a dive, many builders
turned their attentions to the commercial and remodeling sectors.
However, some firms are also stretching their business to encompass
new vistas and fresh clientele.
Side ventures in the pool industry run the gamut from
construction subcontracting to work in entirely different markets.
By diversifying business, these companies have stayed solvent and
poised for new growth opportunities.
Concord Pools and Spas
Two years ago, Mike Giovanone had planned a development of 32
townhomes on a 10-acre parcel of land he owned next to Saratoga
Lake. When local authorities prohibited running new sewer lines by
the lake, the New York builder switched gears and launched a new
“It’s a custom storage facility for antique cars,
boats and motor homes,” explains Giovanone, president of
Concord Pools and Spas in Latham, N.Y. “It definitely helps take a few
off-season guys and keep them busy.”
In the winter, the firm’s administrative staff helps out
the facility with computer updates. Even during the building
season, machine operators and construction workers from Concord
provide maintenance and upkeep.
So far, the venture has been a resounding success, with 100
percent occupancy during its first year. Wealthy clients with
lakeside property have plenty of expensive toys — whether
they be speed boats or classic cars — that they’d
prefer to keep out of the sun. Furthermore, the success has
reflected back to Concord.
“I’ve sold probably three or four pools in the first
year because of my new relationships with tenants,” Giovanone
The venture into high-end storage has gone so well, Giovanone is
building an addition to the current facility and developing a
nearby site for a second location.
Riverbend Sandler Pools
Three years ago, Riverbend Sandler Pools took its concrete and gunite
services and started shopping it out to select builders,
landscapers and decking contractors. With a slowdown in new
construction, the side venture has proved especially valuable.
“We can sell our excess supplies, you could say, instead
of letting the guys sit at home,” notes Charles Barnes,
president of the Plano, Texas-based firm. “The objective was
to give our guys a good job and be able to pay them
Since working for a competitor can be dicey, Barnes
doesn’t advertise the service, and only does business with a
few other pool builders that he knows. In fact, the trucks only
bear the name of the company’s corporate entity to avoid
advertising on a competitor’s site.
Riverbend Sandler’s concrete service, however, has a
greater reach with renovation jobs. The company can work with deck
builders who they will in-turn hire for a pool project.
“We’ll supply them with concrete and then
we’ll do business with them and take the concrete off our
bill,” Barnes says. “We both help each other because I
give them a fair price.”
For Michael Shammas, CEO of Aegean Pools in Chesapeake Bay, Va., a venture
into cyberspace proved to be a boon during the slowdown. Three
years ago, he launchedDiscountPoolWarehouse.com to compete with a growing
sector of Internet retailers.
“The margins have to be very thin online because people
can visit another site with no effort at all,” Shammas
Aegean still has a brick-and-mortar retail store, which was
recently renovated to triple in size, and uses its personnel to
process orders and ship merchandise through the Website.
While anyone building a pool with the company must pay retail
prices, the online store brings in clients from all over the
country. And they’re not all do-it-yourself homeowners.
“We’ve actually gotten some orders from pool pros
— service guys in areas where distribution is hard to
find,” Shammas says. “Once they fulfill an order and
everything goes smoothly, you’ll usually get repeat business
The Website truly is a side business, something the company is
still experimenting with, he adds. But as of now, the online
component comprises 10 percent of Aegean’s retail business
— a considerable chunk in a down economy.
Swan Pools / J. Tortorella Swimming Pools
For both of these firms, providing solar photovoltaic installations
has proven to be a promising venture.
Although the base cost can be upwards of $40,000, the prospect of
free electricity is an enticing one for higher-end homeowners.
Furthermore, a number of tax rebates and incentives have made
installations much more financially feasible.
“With all this help between governments and power
companies, why don’t we take advantage of it?” says
John Tortorella, CEO of J. Tortorella Swimming Pools in Southampton,
N.Y. “I think this technology will grow, mostly because of
energy prices going higher and higher.”
Given the electrical requirements of running a pool and spa,
photovoltaic panels are an intuitive fit. Talking to a homeowner
about a panel installation may even present additional sales
“Being able to provide the power opens up a bunch of
possibilities,” says Cecil Fraser, CEO ofSwan Pools in Lake
Forrest, Calif. “It’s such a nice, new clean industry
at a time when it’s politically correct.”