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Published: Wednesday, 8/3/2005

Area demand for pools heats up

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
The cement coat goes on to a pool in Perrysburg, one of many constructed in metro Toledo this summer. The cement coat goes on to a pool in Perrysburg, one of many constructed in metro Toledo this summer.
ALLAN DETRICH / BLADE Enlarge

Extreme heat this summer has been increasingly tough on contractor Becky Poupard's construction crews. "You can only work so long in 90-degree temperatures," she said.

However, the heat has kept phones ringing all summer at her business, Perfect 10 Pools in Lambertville.

She and her competitors agree it's hard to complain too much about something that gets people thinking about buying a swimming pool.

Plenty of 90-degree days are natural advertisements for area pool contractors.

In-ground pools typically cost $20,000 to $30,000 for a basic rectangle to $60,000 to $100,000 for fancier versions. Plus, count on about $2,000 for fencing and a similar amount for landscaping, experts said.

"There are certain advantages to global warming," Matt Kerr, owner of Hawaiian Pools in Toledo, said chuckling. "For us, it's been a record-breaking year. It's amazing, an unbelievable summer," he said. Sales at his mom-and-pop firm have jumped by $1 million so far this year.

Using spray-on gunnite, the company will build about 65 pools this year. "But because this summer is so hot, we'll have things carry over into next year," Mr. Kerr said.

At Olympic Pools, Inc., of Maumee, co-owner Bill Brettschneider said his firm has installed 65 in-ground pools this year and will do 15 to 20 more. Last year, his firm did 72 pools.

"I've got five or six already booked for next year," he said. "That's very unusual. Usually we get [advance bookings] after Labor Day but people are coming in an saying, 'I want to be first on the list for next year.'‚óŹ"

Not just in-ground pools are in high demand.

At Litehouse Pools, Spas, 'N' More, sales of above-ground pools - which cost between $3,500 and $5,600 - are up 10 percent, said Nancy Coutcher, manager of the retailer's Northwood store. "May and June are the best pool-sales months, but we've had more people than normal in July this year," she added.

The company also has had an unusual higher demand for in-ground pools, with orders up 40 percent, resulting in a two-to-three-week waiting period for installation, she said.

Pool installers are not the only ones busy. It's been a strong summer for sales at Helle Pools in Oregon, which specializes in supplies, repairs, and maintenance.

"The last three years weren't too great, but this has been a great summer for pools," said Betty Helle, whose son James, owns the firm.

Mr. Kerr, of Hawaiian Pools, said some customers are spending enough to equal a vacation home because they are not going on vacation as much, and instead investing money in their backyards.

Some customers, he said, have sold lake-front vacation homes in Ohio and Michigan and built a pool at home.

"To be completely frank, I scratch my head sometimes when I hear that," he said.

But Kathleen Ryan, a real estate agent with Sulphur Springs Realty Co. in Toledo, heard such a story from a client this year. "They want to downsize because their kids are grown and the client said she would like to have a house with a pool but if she can't find a house with a pool she would like to put one in," Ms. Ryan said.

Nancy Kabat, an agent with Welles-Bowen real estate company in Toledo, said, "I believe attitudes have changed greatly, especially in upper-end homes. I think a pool, sometimes, depending on the location, is now expected."

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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