National megabuilder Anthony & Sylvan Pools has entered the San Antonio market.

The Mayfield Village, Ohio-based firm last month formed what it is calling a strategic alliance with an existing San Antonio-area builder, marking its first expansion effort since the start of the current recession.

“This is a good thing for the industry,” said Stuart Neidus, chairman/CEO of the firm, a Pool & Spa News Top Builder. “I think the fact that we’re investing and expanding says something … good about where the industry is headed.”

Reflecting this sense of optimism, Anthony & Sylvan has taken over the operations of Anderson Pools and Patios, located about 25 miles outside San Antonio in Bulverde, Texas. Owner Steven Anderson, a 20-year industry veteran, will manage day-to-day operations of the business, which has been rebranded as Anthony & Sylvan Pools.

He will report to Bob Van Horn, the firm’s general manager in charge of Texas. Additional staff will be brought on as well, Neidus said.

This marks the company’s fourth Texas location — it already has two in Houston and one in Austin.

According to Neidus, the city was chosen specifically for its growth potential: “It’s a pretty spectacular area [with] a lot of master planned communities being built. It’s a more affluent market, so the demographics are better.”

Longtime area builders cautioned, however, that a few unique factors could prove challenging for Anthony & Sylvan. For one, subcontractors there are scarce because most local pool builders use in-house crews.

“We had a hard time finding subcontractors in San Antonio, so we’ve been using ours out of Austin,” said Michael Church, president of Cody Pools, an Austin, Texas-based Pool & Spa News Top Builder that entered the market in 2008.

Additionally, a customer base that tends to remain loyal to established regional firms poses another potential hurdle. “It’s been a history that people continue to try to move into this market, and most of them don’t stay,” said Keith Zars, manager of Keith Zars Pools, a Pool & Spa News Top Builder in San Antonio.

Neidus noted, though, that Anthony & Sylvan has taken on projects in the San Antonio area from its Austin office. “It’s given us enough insight to understand the customers firsthand,” he said.

Anthony & Sylvan plans to continue expanding as the economy shows further signs of stability, Neidus added.

Founded in 1946, Anthony & Sylvan has reportedly built more than 370,000 pools to date. It operates a current total of 17 construction offices around the country, serving markets in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

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