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Pool Patrol’s Okanagan Team Highlights Vision for 2024’s Pool Cover Season

December 11, 2023

Pool Patrol’s owner Allan Horwood continues the conversation with pool cover specialists Eric and Caleb in Kelowna.

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Here’s the other big discussion: The pool industry grew so much during Covid that it was unrealistic to think that it’s going to continue to grow. So, just because it levels off doesn’t mean that we’re in a state of emergency. 

From our standpoint, from a company’s standpoint, we always need to be ready to pivot to what’s next. So, if we see a 10% decline in new pool sales and a 10% decline in pool cover sales, how will we fill that void? What’s going to happen? 


ALLAN

Eric and I have talked about this a lot: renovations, older systems that need to be yanked out of the ground, and massive renovations to 20-year-old cover systems; we need to be on the ball quickly so we can drop a mechanism in and get them up and running, get that pool safe, and get the customer what they want as quickly as possible. So, as pool cover specialists, we need to be ready for that, estimate it, and have the product go out the door.


ERIC

Well, I think we’re aces on all of that. I think that’s one compliment I get from most clients: “I called you guys yesterday, and you’re here today. Thank you so much for showing up.” Obviously, we have the room to have the stock available. Once we get into teams, we can usually have an old pool cover out and a new one in a day and back up and running.


ALLAN

I know you looked at an indoor pool the other day...


ERIC

I did, yeah.


ALLAN

There was quite a bit of damage; it was not that old; we could be fixing that tomorrow, we could have them up and running tomorrow, which is huge.


ERIC

Yeah, we have the parts on the shelf.


ALLAN

Yeah, which is huge because that pool cover originally came from Southern California. Getting parts would be next to impossible; we have the parts here. So that’s where we need to be ready; people want things fixed. You’ve got to maintain your stuff.


ERIC

Yeah, and I guess, I think, you’ve done a great job over the years, and we just keep on excelling at it and getting better and better at it. So, I’ve never had anybody complain that we didn’t get the job done in a timely fashion. 


ALLAN

2024 is another year, another set of challenges. I’m really curious to be down in Las Vegas and try to get a vibe from the automatic pool cover industry as a whole, but we’re in a very unique position up here. We’re different from the rest of the world, and the Okanagan has a very captive audience. We have a ton of swimming pools up here; the weather is only getting warmer up here with climate change. 

I’ve always said that swimming pools aren’t going away. Most people grew up with a pool; they moved to the Okanagan because they wanted a pool. There’s not suddenly going to be a time when nobody wants pools. Will there be a levelling off? For sure. Will we always be prepared for that levelling off? A 100%. But I don’t think there’s any doom and gloom in the future of the economy. Yes, the interest rates are rising, but all the information that we’ve been told is that’s kind of it. We’re not going to see them continue to rise, so I think everybody can just relax now and figure out what they want to do with their money and where they want to spend their money. 

If you had a pool at your former house, you’re probably going to want a pool at your new house. In both of our locations, our Vancouver office and our Kelowna office, there are pockets of areas where pools are going in like crazy. Even from inventory control, you know what it was like in 2023. I’d get as much as inventory as they would give me, and a month later, you were telling me we’re running out. 

That was something we went through a lot. We gapped it; we did a great job of filling the gaps and making sure that we never really ran out. There’s a couple of times where I thought, what’s going on with our inventory? So, I think when we’re back at our manufacturers again, we need to talk about having more inventory based on what we’ve sold in the past. So it will take that stress component of ‘woah, we’re running low’ and have the components here so we can always build 20 pool covers out the door tomorrow. I think 2024 is going to be a great year. 


ERIC

Yeah, I agree.


ALLAN

Levelling off is never a bad thing; this explosion that we kept doing was tough. We’d buy one warehouse, and it wasn’t big enough, then we had to buy another warehouse, buy a truck, and then we needed another truck. Those steps were hard to keep up with; they really were. So, if we get to the point where we know the volume that we’re going to do, we know we’re going to be replacing 50 pool covers that are 16x32; if f we know those things, if we have some historical information that will allow us to predict better, I think 2024 could be a year that we’ll have a better handle on. Do you guys see that coming? 


ERIC

As you said, we’re already in a much better position if we have the inventory. So, like you said, we’d be doing one order, and then within three weeks, we’d be scrambling again. If we have that inventory here, that takes a lot of stress out of the situation.


ALLAN

I think 2024 is going to be an interesting year. There’s a lot of pools out there, there’s a lot of covers out there and we need to be prepared. 


ERIC

Yeah, I agree. I think we will be; I mean, historically, every year has been something new and another wrench thrown at us, whether it’s Covid, the heat or fires. With growing the company, we’ve done a pretty great job at adapting to our surroundings and doing what we need to, and I think our customers are still pretty happy with everything. 


ALLAN

I would love to see a 2024 with no heat dome, no fires, and no flooding. 


ERIC

I think that’s everybody’s dream. 


ALLAN

And maybe, no covid. Let’s just have some form of normalcy. If we could just level off and not have one thing after another, let’s try that. Anyway, I’m excited. I think we’re going to be ready. I think all of us need a nice little breather; I know we have some projects going on in Kelowna, we’ve got some projects going on in Vancouver that’ll see us through, and then we’re just going to see what spring looks like.


ERIC

Absolutely. 


With a legacy since 1995, Pool Patrol has been installing automatic pool covers in British Columbia, and our pool cover specialists are gearing up to take on the challenges that 2024 may hold. Contact Pool Patrol to get started.

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