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Comments from the 2015 Pool Spa & Patio show…

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.

For the 2nd year in a row, I’ve got a very easy newsletter to write. After every International Pool / Spa / Patio show, I write a summary of what I sense is “the pulse of our industry.”  Through the downturn, I frequently spoke of such touchy-feely attitudes as “caution” or “fear” or “tentative hope” or “morbid depression.” In 2013 (for the first time in a long time), I said “2014 Will Be Better.”  In 2014, I said “2015 Will Be MORE Better.”

So now, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m telling you that:

“BETTER” is going to get EVEN BETTER.

In fact, Hanley Wood economist Toby Morrison sounded a little bit like a broken record himself.  (No offense Toby!) Basically all of his predictions for the last 2 years (“growth!”) have come true, and he expects pretty much the same thing in 2016.  Such as:

  • Housing starts will continue growing in the neighborhood of 10% per year to.
  • Home remodeling will continue to be very strong.of
  • “Cheap home” inventory (including old foreclosed homes) has dried up.
  • We’ve “recovered” back to where we were in 2007, and fortunately it’s been a STEADY RECOVERY rather than a difficult-to-manage “hockey stick” recovery.
  • Homeowners will continue to make major buying decisions (homes, pools, etc.) based on FAMILY and QUALITY of LIFE. (Toby especially sees an increase in the number of Baby Boomer grandparents who are investing in creating “destination homes” – e.g., adding a pool – so that their progeny will visit them frequently.)

Now here are some additional comments, facts and observations from last week in Las Vegas:

  • Toby forecasts a total of 53,700 new swimming pools to be built in the United States in 2016.
  • Toby also says that because the up-and-coming “Millennials” are doing everything later in life(getting married, buying a house, etc.) that parents are now starting to PAY MONEY to get them to finally move out of the house.
  • I saw good steady traffic on the show floor on all 3 days.  (If attendance is weak, then Thursday is always a ghost town.  But this past Thursday was still reasonably strong.)
  • I don’t know about ALL of the classes, but all of the classes I visited and/or taught had very strong attendance.  (In fact, my “Social Media” class in the Hayward Business School was actually standing room only.)
  • And yes, there are STILL (inexplicably) plenty of doofuses who blow thousands of dollars in booth expenses by engaging their mobile phones rather than the human beings walking by their booth.

Another observation worth noting is what’s happening with APSP.  I know a lot of people are not fans of APSP, but for the last 3 years or so, I’ve seen them making a LOT of changes, and ALL of them are clearly at least INTENDED to be good. This includes such heretofore unheard-of things as:

  • Promoting the swimming pool industry to consumers. Yes, CONSUMERS! With advertising. Just like the boating industry and other industries have been doing for many years.
  • Helping to facilitate FINANCING for homeowners.
  • Investigating the possibility of establishing local CONSUMER SHOWS, to help promote our industry.
  • Continuing to reach out to “sister organizations” in the industry, to increase the ability for all of us around the world to speak with one voice.
  • Continuing to help us all figure out how to deal with DROUGHT.
  • And just overall obsessing about what else they can do to help make APSP members more successful.

And I think there are something like 10 new people on staff at APSP who were NOT there one year ago.  So clearly, they are shaking things up and making some changes, with the overriding goal of making things better for all of us.

In the same breath, let me also mention that the highly-talented folks at Genesis/Genesis3 (I still personally think they should have kept the “3”, but what do I know?) continue to set the example of what a true world-class swimming pool industry professional can look like. If you’ve never attended a training session led by a Genesis3 faculty member, I would STRONGLY encourage you to do so, even if it’s just one of the free sessions available in the general education program. I guarantee you will learn some great stuff from these guys.

My conclusion?  These are great times to be in the swimming pool industry. I hope the years ahead bring you great success.  (And if you need help with that, just give me a call.)

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