Joe Kells--DGM Photography

Covington, La.-based distributor PoolCorp has partnered with two outdoor living manufacturers to solidify its commitment to this category.

About a year ago, PoolCorp added a tagline, “Where Outdoor Living Comes to Life,” to its name. “We wanted not only our customers, but also our employees to understand that’s where we are headed and that’s really where the industry needs to head,” said Ted Lawrence, corporate retail category manager at Poolcorp.

Now the organization has partnered with two producers of backyard-living products: Plank & Hide, an outdoor furniture manufacturer; and Atlantic Water Gardens, which offers waterfeature equipment, including fountains, spillways, ponds and pond-free falls.

PoolCorp will offer its customers plenty of options from Plank & Hide. The manufacturer has created five collections of furniture and outdoor lifestyle products especially for the distributor's customers. Lawrence describes the product lines as “simple yet complex” and they include a number of items, including barstools, fire pits, dining sets, and chaise lounges.

The prototypes were showcased at the distributor's annual Retail Summit and the products will be in the PoolCorp warehouse and ready to ship to customers by the end of February, Lawrence said.

PoolCorp and Atlantic Water Gardens began working together about a year ago, and attendees at the Retail Summit were among the first pool professionals to see Atlantic’s product line.

Lawrence understands that pool professionals might be a little hesitant to make the leap into selling a new product category simply because it’s human nature to fear change. But moving forward, he hopes dealers embrace this category.

“It’s a proven fact that those dealers who focus on outdoor living are some of the ones who are growing in this business, who are thriving, and certainly who are very profitable,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence notes that the outdoor living market has been inching its way to the forefront of the pool and spa industry for some time now. Once upon a time, the average attendee at both national and regional shows would only see a few fire pits and outdoor grills on display. But backyard living corporations now take up a higher percentage of floor space. He also notes that consumers no longer view outdoor living items as luxury goods. The desire for these products is now more widely spread among both middle- and upper-class consumers.