Pool & Spa News

A major spa manufacturer has shut down operations, voiding warranties and leaving behind several popular brands.

Living Water Products, a moniker gleaned from the April 2008 consolidation of Tatum Manufacturing and Gulf Coast Spa Manufacturers, closed its doors on March 20, 2009. Based out of Clearwater, Fla., Living Water made products under a variety of brands, including Gulf Coast Spas, La-Z-Boy Spas and Coleman Spas.

“There had been rumors for about six months,” said Matthew McCall, co-owner of Zebra Road Show Hot Tub & Pool Tables in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. “The hot tub industry as a whole is pretty bad right now, and it wouldn’t surprise me if any manufacturer went under, but it is unfortunate.”

Rumors intensified when Bank of America issued a notice in December 2008 to foreclose on the Living Water’s 160,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Tampa, Fla. The company purchased the facility in 2005 for $4.7 million, spending another $5 million in equipment and materials.

Calls to Brad Tatum, the owner of Living Water, were not returned.

Dealers, meanwhile, are left with nonwarrantied stock and limited communication lines.

“I actually heard it from a customer who told me the company was out of business,” said Rob Sarbone, owner of Cue and Spa in Howell, N.J.

Many dealers had to call Living Water’s warranty arm, Spa Parts, Accessories & Services, to verify the company’s closure. The Clearwater-based service firm is still operational and working with dealers to sell discounted parts.

Living Water added a number of new products in 2008, including licensing the La-Z-Boy name in January and outbidding Maax Spas for the right to make Coleman Spas. The company also bought the assets of Infinity Spas last October.

“This market that we’re in is very tough … and for anyone new coming into the market — no matter how creative they are — it would be very hard to get traction in this environment and go forward,” said Mike Dunn, vice president of sales and marketing at Watkins Manufacturing in Vista, Calif.

The news comes in a time of turmoil for several spa manufacturers. Pacific Spas of Surrey, British Columbia, went bankrupt in January, and DM Industries Ltd., the Miami-based manufacturer of Vita Spas, filed for Chapter 11 protection in late March.

There is also concern among spa manufacturers for the vendors who are being shortchanged in the process.

“I understand why it’s happening, but I’m afraid for the manufacturers that supply them,” said Mike Johnson, president of Dream Maker Spas in Lake Mary, Fla. “I [still] need them to supply me."