Jacuzzi Group Worldwide announced the acquisition of ThermoSpas nearly a month ago, yet both hot tub manufacturers remain tightlipped about the deal.
In the only public announcement on May 31, Bob Rowan, president of
Jacuzzi North America, cited ThermoSpas’ unique
direct-to-consumer sales approach and lead generation as primary
reasons for the purchase.
“ThermoSpas’ ability to generate interest in the hot
tub category combined with a cutting-edge system of managing leads
will prove to be a significant benefit to ... our
corporation,” he said.
More information regarding the purchase is scarce, though Rowan did
indicate that Andy Tournas will continue as president of
ThermoSpas, the Wallingford, Conn.-based company he founded in
1983. However, the two firms will remain distinct, a fact that has
fueled concern among some Jacuzzi and Sundance Spas
“They tried to tell us that [ThermoSpas] isn’t going to
compete with us, but every brand out there does,” said Tom
Gervais, owner of New Mexico Leisure in Albuquerque.
Though not unprecedented, an acquisition of one spa maker by
another is a relatively rare occurrence. In 2009, MAAX Spas purchased
DM Industries and its Vita Spa brand. And late last year Watkins
Manufacturing, which bought Caldera Spas in
1999, added American Hydrotherapy Systems’ rotationally
molded Freeflow Spa line to its fold.
With little details to go on, Gervais and others are questioning
the logic behind the move, pointing to ThermoSpas’ recent
decline in sales and alleging a large gap between the number of
leads and actual spas sold.
“The goal is to sell a spa, not just generate leads.
I’d be curious to know how much it cost them. It
doesn’t make sense to start another brand when you already
have two that are taking all of your resources,” Gervais
Others don’t see the purchase as having a negative effect and
speculate that Jacuzzi’s decision to buy the firm was
influenced by ThermoSpas’ filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
protection in February.
“It’s likely something they bought at a fire sale, and
they’ll use what they can and discard what they don’t
need,” says Tom Healy, owner of California
Cooperage of Santa Monica, and a dealer of Jacuzzi spas.
“You never know what the truth is until they tell
Meanwhile, the industry awaits news on how Jacuzzi will integrate
the consumer-direct sales program that Tournas implemented for
ThermoSpas in 1995. ThermoSpas originally had a dealer base, but
quickly turned to attracting buyers by way of infomercials, making
it one of only a few to also boast a national advertising
“Their business models are so different, and that’s why
there is some curiosity about how this is all going to roll
out,” said Bob Lauter, CEO of Master Spas in Fort
Wayne, Ind. “People are really curious to see how the two
business models merge.”
ThermoSpas’ campaign helped to keep hot tub ownership in the
spotlight, and the idea of losing such powerful consumer outreach
was disappointing to Lauter and others.
“That was one of the biggest blows when ThermoSpas went
bankrupt, so it helps having a national player buy them,” he
Founded in 1925, Chino Hills, Calif.-based Jacuzzi began as a pump
manufacturer and today produces hot tubs, bathtubs, walk-in
bathtubs, showers and sinks.