To capitalize on what he sees as the fastest growing segment of the industry, builder Mike Giovanone is opening a fiberglass pool distribution center.
In November, the owner of Latham, N.Y.-based Concord Pools will open a Viking Pools distributorship.
Concord’s three New York locations began offering fiberglass pool installs in 2010. However, the cost of freight and handling of the pools were large drawbacks for Giovanone. So he hopes to defray some of those costs with his distributorship.
“When dealing with fiberglass pools, the logistics are what kill you,” he said. Giovanone already had a 3-acre lot, which he’d purchased in 2013 for $1.4 million, when he approached Viking Pools President Tom Straub and Latham International CEO Mark Laven about opening a distribution center this past spring.
Concord will bring shells up from West Virginia with the goal of serving dealers in Massachusetts, New York and Vermont. Currently, the plans are to stock 30 to 40 at a time.
The location also will a feature a regular pool store in front, with the distribution center behind it. The November launch will be a soft opening, Giovanone said.
“Every time we open a store, a new facility, I’m not in a rush to do it,” said the PSN Top Builder. “We’ll be off and running, full stride in spring of 2016.”
Giovanone believes that the biggest hurdle dealers face when getting into fiberglass pools is fear because they don’t know how to work with the product. He is setting up his distributorship to help newer installers break in.
“We want to grow swimming pools,” he said. “Now, with this concept, [dealers] can [install pools] in a way that’s comfortable for them.”
What most excites him are the educational opportunities that he will offer dealers, in an area of the center specifically set aside for fiberglass-pool boot camps. The way he describes it, dealers from around New England can come to the center, where he’ll teach them to install fiberglass pools. They’ll dig a hole, put the shell in, install the pipe, motors and coping, then fill the excavation.
“[Dealers] are going to be in the hole; they’re going to be running that crane,” he said. “They’re going to be part of the action.”
After a session is complete, Concord will drain and remove the shell and backfill the hole to prepare for the next camp.
Giovanone expects each session to last two days and hopes to offer them twice monthly.
The plan is to offer an a la carte menu of distribution options that also can help new fiberglass installers gradually acclimate to the business.
An inexperienced dealer could choose to have Concord deliver the shell, dig the pool and complete the installation. A trained dealer could just pick up the shell and or have it delivered and do the install themselves.
“They can do it in a way that’s comfortable for them,” Giovanone said. “Now they have distribution and they’ve been trained.”
Giovanone already travels the country giving seminars and boot camps. His new center will allow him to ground his education and offer more hands-on opportunities in a home base.
“There’s no better recipe for success than dealer-on-dealer training,” he said. “You can teach a class and come away with more than you in came with.”