The thing about safety equipment is that it pretty well sells itself. After all, fences, alarms and covers, or combinations thereof, are the law in most places. But there is a fine line between safeguarding a pool to pass inspection and truly investing in safety. Dealers stress that homeowners shouldn’t skimp when it comes to protecting their children. The way some see it, this means buying U.S.-made products and components rather than imports.
This rings true for Jason Howard, owner of A Safe Pool, a Glendale, Ariz.-based firm selling removable fences, safety nets and covers. While he carries a line of imports, he’s careful to illustrate the difference in quality compared to domestic products.
For example, the American-made fence that he offers features heavy-grade aluminum poles capable of withstanding 124 pounds of pressure against the top. On the other hand, the Chinese alternative he carries only holds up to 45 pounds of force.
“No child is able to break the domestic product,” he says.
But he doesn’t let his clients take his word for it. He shares research conducted by a third party to validate his claims.
“We do offer the testing paperwork done by the ASTM lab,” Howard notes. “That’s a nonbiased opinion.”
On most of his jobs, the difference between using a U.S.- versus a China-made fence is around $200. Most parents don’t blink at the cost.
“Nine times out of 10 we sell the domestic product,” Howard says.
Don’t just talk, demonstrate
Robert Block agrees that American-made goods trump those from overseas any day.
“Having something that’s made in the U.S. is always best,” says the managing partner of Lifesaver Systems Northeast, a whole-home childproofing firm serving New Jersey and New York. The company has done jobs for pop stars, athletes and television news personalities.
But it’s one thing to say that a product is superior, it’s another to prove it. Block deals in a particular brand of fence that features a rugged mesh material. He demonstrates its durability by stabbing it with a stick, resulting in a temporary hole in the panel — temporary because the webbing quickly regains its shape.
That usually does the trick, he says.
Block says he didn’t become a childproofer to the stars by being the cheapest. On the contrary: “I’m actually the most expensive guy in town,” he says proudly.
Seldom does he ever sell just a removable fence.
“When we get to someone’s home, it’s because they invited us in,” he says.
Then that creates more opportunities to sell high-ticket items such as technologically sophisticated pool surveillance systems that help homeowners keep tabs on their kids with a mobile device.
Tell a story
Nothing sells a product quite like a compelling story, and Brent Welburn draws upon personal experience when he discusses the importance of safety with customers.
“Everyone always says, ‘It won’t happen to me,’” says Welburn, owner of Welburn Associates, a distributor of pool safety fences serving the greater Sacramento area.
But it did happen to Welburn.
Seven years ago, he found his 2-year-old son face-down in his sister’s unprotected pool. Fortunately, Welburn came to his rescue in the nick of time. That incident inspired him to go into the pool-proofing business.
It’s a sobering story for those customers who consider foregoing a safety barrier, cover or pool alarm, he says.
“I hear some people say, ‘Well, I grew up without a pool fence and I’m fine.’ Well, you also hear about people who grew up without seatbelts. And you wouldn’t think about getting in a car without one today,” Welburn says.