To cope with the current economy, service executives across the nation are coming out from behind their desks and returning to routes.

The trend can be seen mainly among companies that have historically provided pool service, but also came to rely heavily on construction and renovation revenue during the past decade’s pool-building boom. As that income has dwindled, these companies have refocused their attention on service contracts to provide a much-needed financial buffer.

“We’ve been through about a $400,000 drop in [construction and renovation] business over the last couple of years,” said Jeb Henn, owner of Henn Pools, LLC, in Darien, Conn. “Since there’s not enough to make my income on that side, I’ve had to go back to the service side.”

Henn has been able to find plenty of service work, but new hires are expensive. “To put a [technician] equivalent to myself out on the road, I’m looking at $30 to $35 an hour,” he said. “Unfortunately, that means the ‘head bottle washer’ has to start running routes again.”

Service-only firms haven’t escaped the economic pinch either.

“During the boom time, everybody’s business was growing, and then we came to a point where everything kind of collapsed,” said Dan Jonaitis, owner of Arizona Pool Specialists in Scottsdale, Ariz. “There’s just been a reduction in clientele.”