More than 900 employees gathered last month for the third annual PoolCorp National Sales Conference and Trade Show.

The event was held Oct. 5-7 at the Sheraton Dallas and featured numerous training and informational sessions. The trade show was designed to serve PoolCorp managers from around the country.

The theme of this year’s event was “Sell It,” an initiative discussed by Group Vice President Dave Cook during a general session that included all attendees.

“We’re focused on the ‘It’ factor,” he said. “What is ‘It’? It is the advantages and opportunities we have for customers. It is the product offerings from vendors. It is our service, convenience, prices and expertise in the market.”

With more than 240 branches in the United States, the distribution giant enjoys a 38 percent share of the new construction market and a 42 percent share of replacement/retrofit overall, according to Manuel J. Perez de la Mesa, PoolCorp’s president/CEO.

“Replacement is about double new construction,” he said. “Liners, tiles, plaster — all of those need to be replaced. Those volumes have more impact than new pools.”

In his presentation, Perez de la Mesa also provided a number of statistics regarding the state of the industry. (Click here to see some of the statistical information presented at this conference.)

Pool construction hit a high of approximately 210,000 new vessels in 2005, according to PoolCorp estimates. The numbers dropped from there to:

  • 2006: 189,920
  • 2007: 139,920
  • 2008: 79,920
  • 2009: 43,920 (est.)

But not every figure was bleak. Today, as many as 48 percent of all pools are more than 15 years old, which provides multiple opportunities for renovation jobs, Perez de la Mesa said. Indeed, the replacement/ retrofit market could bring as much as $660 million in product sales alone once an economic recovery gets thoroughly under way. And even if the market remains sluggish, some of that revenue will still be seen, company officials said. Economic conditions over the past year have forced many pool owners to put off repairs, but that can’t continue indefinitely.

Approximately 70 exhibitors took part in the conference’s vendor showcase.

“The goal of the trade show was to allow pre-selected vendors to get the maximum exposure they can in one place for 900 decision-makers in a concentrated effort,” said Dominick Latino, director of marketing at PoolCorp.

Dates and location for the 2010 show have not yet been determined. PoolCorp is based in Covington, La.