Category Archives: Love Pool Industry

2019 Session Update
Week of February 11 – 15


Executive Shuffle
Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Jonathan Satter as Secretary of the Department of Management Services.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried named Holly Bell as director of cannabis.

Stats
So far, there have been 1,832 bills filed for the 2019 Session. There are 17 days left until Session starts on March 5th.

Noteworthy this Week
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers are seeking to get rid of a commission that meets every 20 years to suggest changes to the state constitution.

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee voted 13-1 on Wednesday to ask voters to repeal the Constitution Revision Commission, which met last year and placed seven items on the 2018 ballot.

Voters approved all seven. They included bans on dog racing, oil drilling in state waters and vaping in workplaces. It also included a measure that extends new rights to crime victims.

Rep. Brad Drake sponsored the bill and said the commission has become a political body proposing major policy changes rather than a body that revises outdated language in the constitution.

Sixty percent of Florida voters would have to approve the proposal in order to repeal the commission.


Permit Fees: SB 142, HB 127
The House bill passed another committee this week, leaving one remaining committee of reference before the proposed legislation moves to the full House for final consideration. The Senate bill is now in the Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee. The bill requires the governing bodies of counties and municipalities to post permit and inspection fee schedules and building permit and inspection utilization report on their website.

Swimming Pool Definition: HB 757
Representative Ralph Massullo has filed a bill to clarify the definition of a public swimming pool in s. 514.011 F.S. and s. 515.25 F.S. does not include manmade lakes or lagoons with a surface area of 43,000 square feet or more.

Construction Qualifications: HB 351, SB 674
We are concerned these bills would increase unlicensed activity in Florida. Our team met with Sen. Perry, and he agreed this would be a negative outcome and that we do not want to increase unlicensed activity.

Swimming Pool Safety: SB 724, HB 805
As expected, Rep. Webb filed the House companion this week. We met with the Florida Realtors, they will have an internal meeting to discuss strategy, and then update us on their plans as this proceeds.

Floodplain Technical Guidance Document
We are waiting on the Deputy Director to follow up with us on their internal discussions on this matter. We reminded Director Moskowitz that this is time sensitive.

Produced in conjunction with Bruce Kershner, FSPA Regulatory Consultant

Your State, Your Voice

 
Job Shuffle
Summary of action from Governor Ron DeSantis this week:
  • announced the appointment of Judge Laurel M. Lee as Florida Secretary of State
  • appointed Jim Zingale as Executive Director of the Florida Department of Revenue
  • announced his intent to name Ron Bergeron to the South Florida Water Management District
  • named Chauncey Goss to the South Florida Water Management District 
 
Permit Fees, HB 127 / SB 142
The House and Senate bills both passed their first committees this week. The House bill is on the agenda in its next committee the Business & Professions Subcommittee, on 02/13/19, at 1:30 pm. 
 
Construction Contracting Qualifications, HB 351 / SB 674
We are concerned these bills would increase unlicensed activity in Florida. Our team met with Sen. Perry this week, and he agreed this would be a negative outcome and that we do not want to increase unlicensed activity. Our team also met with Daniel Brackett in the Careers and Competition Subcommittee, who is putting together the staff analysis on this bill. He was open to our view that this has the potential to do more harm than good. He has a lot of background on these issues from his time at DBPR.
 
Swimming Pool Safety, SB 724
Our team met with Sen. Hooper to discuss the inherent problems with this bill. He understands our concerns and is open to looking at different options, but he will be passionately pushing the bill since it came from one of his constituents. We have reached out to the Florida Realtors Association to discuss future steps to be taken. Sen. Hooper shared that the House sponsor will likely be Rep. Webb.
 
Floodplain Technical Guidance Document
Last week we had a productive meeting with the Director of the Department of Emergency Management. We are waiting for the Deputy Director to follow up with us on their internal discussions on this matter.
 
Deregulation
Citing unreasonable and needless regulations which create a drag on our economic growth, stifle completion and keep hard working Floridians out of the labor pool, Governor Ron DeSantis recently asked the 17 professional boards to come together and come up with their own ideas on how to reduce regulations. On January 31, 2019, the various boards meet in Orlando at the “Florida Deregathon” where they discussed, debated, identified, and recommended substantive regulations to be targeted for eliminations or modification. 
 
This week, the House Business & Professional Subcommittee met and received an update on the “Deregathon” from recently appointed Department of Business and Professional Regulation Halsey Beshears. He stated that the Florida Legislature has talked about deregulation over the past several years. The goal is to lower regulations and make it easier for people to get into the various professions. He did emphasize that while the goal is to make it easier for people to get into the workforce, but it should never be at the expense of safety or health of the public.
 
The following is a list of recommendations made by the CILB & ECLB to reduce burdensome regulations:  
 
Construction Industry Licensing Board:
  • Work to refine all contractor application requirements to reduce experience requirements while maintaining financial requirements.
  • Reduce cost of exam prep by eliminating some of the required textbooks for the licensing exam. Provide online sources or reduce required books.
  • Revise applications to remove unnecessary questions.
  • Reduce the size of the licensing board.
  • Work on license reciprocation agreements with other states.
  • Allow Florida BCN graduates to apply for Division I licensure without passing the certified examination. Determine additional degrees that could qualify for this exemption for all license types.
  • Allow Division II to subcontract out work as long as they supervise subcontractors: eliminate Swimming Pool subcontractor specialty licenses (The FSPA Board of Directors does not support the elimination of the subcontractor specialty licenses).
  • Electrical Contractors Licensing Board
  • Reopen Grandfathering of Registered Contractors, update requirements.
  • Review Endorsement requirements for other states.
  • Consideration for academic and practical training to meet experience requirements.
  • Revise initial training requirements for BASA/FASA.
 
The most problematic of the recommendations appear to be the CILB’s suggestion to reduce the number of board members. It should be noted that Secretary Beshears thought that it was a good idea by making the board more nimble allowing them to make better decisions. He did comment that the department will continue to go after those who are taking advantage of Floridians. The department will continue to hammer on those who take advantage of citizens that have been displaced or are suffering hardships and construction contractors who are just taking advantage of vulnerable Floridians.
 
There are currently no bills filled yet that directly addresses the suggestions recommended by the various boards. SB 604, which would open up grandfathering for registered electrical contractors to become certified, was filed by Senator Pizzo the day before the “Deregathon”. Also, keep in mind, some of the recommendations could be dealt with through rule changes by the various boards.
 
 
For full Bill information, including sponsors, language and status download Rallywise.
By Keith Johnson, Pool Works / trifloridawater@msn.com
 
Your business is more than just a price tag. Develop a good business model with strict procedures and processes. Hire good people and invest in them through training and coaching. Provide an outstanding product that includes great equipment, high quality work and amazing customer service! Once you have these items in place make sure your customers KNOW IT by telling them every day that you may not be the cheapest but you offer them the best value!
 
What should I charge? For some reason our rates always seem to easily become an emotional issue. After all, we have worked so hard to build our dream. If we charge too much we will lose business! Or will we?
 
Pricing should be completely removed from emotions and be the sum of four things: Cost of materials, cost of labor, business expense and profit! Growing a business costs money and lots of it. It requires an investment of funds to add that next truck, for example. While you will hopefully get profits from that investment, you will certainly not get that initial investment back. The only way to grow safely is by making healthy profits above and beyond what one takes home personally. Continue to refine pricing, costs and expenses until you reach your desired profit goal.
 
I have often had smaller pool company owners make the following statement to me, “My business is smaller than yours so I don’t have your overhead.” In my opinion nothing could be further from the truth. Those smaller companies feel they can charge less when in fact their rates should be consistent with the larger guys. Why? A small pool service company may save some money by carrying less liability insurance. They may choose to be workers’ comp exempt.  They may rent a smaller warehouse or have no base of operations. All of those things noted, a large service company usually buys some or all of its chemicals by the truck load or buys things in pallet quantities. Like it or not your distributors give the bigger guys better pricing, sometimes much better. Large companies often have safety programs and are particular about who drives their vehicles which results in lower insurance rates per truck than the small guys. Large pool companies spread the risk more in workers’ comp rates and typically have better “experience ratings” which can mean they may  pay up to 30 percent less. Larger businesses typically have been in business for very long period of time and have less debt. Large companies simply benefit from the economies of scale.
 
Large or small, no one should ever try to be cheaper than the next guy. Never compete on price alone. Tomorrow someone with less experience will take the family pickup truck and decide they will be a pool company. Over a short period of time they will provide services cheaper and possibly even take some of your business but if the price structure is too low, then too many corners are cut and sooner rather than later they will cease to exist.

By Alvaro Mendoza, CES / amendoza@ceswaterquality.com

After 35 years of paying its dues, chemistry controllers are finally being accepted as a great baseline to a responsible commercial pool care program. Forward-thinking pool service owners are taking it one step further and are providing a controller for each of their customers as a part of their base service.

Why? If you poll these owners, many will tell you that: (a) it helps them save time, money and chemicals, (b) helps them with route  flexibility, and (c) it helps protect them from unwanted emergencies that sometimes leads to losing good customers and, if there was a (d), it would be helping protect them from liability from out of range readings.

While many rely on a simple and reliable ORP and pH control system, others have opted for units with remote control and alert notification features. New communication protocols are safer, easier to hook up, and can piggyback on any open Wi-Fi network on the pool deck, for free. So, there’s no need for VPN’s, dedicated networks, or extended battles with IT guys. Communications, once viewed by many as a gimmick, has transitioned into a useful tool that helps service providers tweak their schedules to maximize profits  and reduce everyday drama.

Control system development has kicked into a new gear over the past few years. New communications advancements use artificial intelligence to text you pool trends and alerts well before they become alarms and issues. Control over the entire equipment room, not just the chemistry, is becoming commonplace. Also, advancements in direct-reading (chlorine) PPM sensors provide an alternative to ORP control of pool and spa chlorine levels. PPM sensors used to require special calibrations and periodic  replacement gel and sensing tips, but now use a simpler and less costly coiled wire design that appears to last for at least 3-5 years. This is a big improvement.

The newest chemistry sensor introduced has nothing to do with chlorine and pH… it actually takes direct control of Total Alkalinity…. What? That’s right, it is a patented meter that takes a highly accurate automatic titration test as little as four times a day (and as many as 24 times a day) and automatically switches between acid and Co2 pH feed systems to keep the alkalinity in a perfect range. You merely change the reagent bottle every 3-5 months.

Stay tuned as basic control systems, used by some service  companies for over three decades finally convince even the most hesitant service company that they are a helper, not a hindrance. Also stay tuned while great new advances by US controller companies lead the worldwide pool industry into a new era of controls and communications. The fun is just beginning.

By FSPA President Jim Bingold

As we begin 2019 I am compelled to reflect back on my time as a FSPA Board member for the Palm Beach Chapter and on the state Executive Committee, but more importantly, on the amazing people of this association. I think about the volunteers who served as presidents, task force members, chairs of committees, and members who served on state appointed Boards and I marvel at what has been accomplished in the last 10 to 12 years. It is truly the dedication and commitment of these volunteers and state staff in Sarasota that has elevated the FSPA to the level of recognition we realize today in Tallahassee and around the state.
 
Our work is not done yet. The accomplishments over recent years from Chapters, state Board Members and amazing staff have been many. The recognition we enjoy now from Tallahassee and local building and health departments was not even imagined 10 years ago. Our working relationship with other trades through the Construction Coalition on workforce development and other common interests, such as unlicensed activity, has never been at a higher level. It has been my belief from my earlier years on the Board that these issues are better fought by our industry joining in with the other trades. These relationships need to be nurtured and grown through our work with this coalition and our support of groups like the Future Builders Association. Please get involved in these activities. All the trades we work beside every day in our communities, cities, and counties share more common struggles and issues with us than those that differ. We will get more done when our membership number is joined by all their membership numbers.
 
I remember some past presidents stating “there is strength in numbers” and I wholeheartedly agree. So our work is not done. When we are challenged on our scope of work, as in the recent past, we have more to accomplish for our association and the swimming pool industry. Everyone on our state Board and all the members within our Chapters have a reason they joined and remain part of this association. Those reasons may differ but we accomplish more together than as our own business fighting alone. Each one of us either work with or compete with a company in our area that we respect, from the way they operate their business to the service or product they deliver. We need
that company to join our ranks so we can truly follow our mission statement of Advancing Florida’s Swimming Pool Industry.
 
As your incoming president I would like to challenge every member to go sign up one new member. Through stronger membership we have a better chance to prevail in the battles to come. Most challenges we know about and work together to address. The challenges, unknown but surely to come, can be better fought from a position of strength with a larger membership. Accept the challenge and watch what all of us members have fought for through commitment and dedication to build the FSPA to what it is today. With your help on membership, watch our number grow into an Association we could not have imagined just a few years ago.
 
I wish all of you a Happy and Prosperous New Year – Now go get “Your Florida Swimming Pool Association” a new member.

By Todd Koonts, SPIES Pool / todd@spiespool.com

What is Legionella and why do we seem to be hearing more about it being found in spas, spray features or fountains?

Legionella is a germ that can cause a type of pneumonia called Legionellosis, more commonly known as Legionnaire’s Disease. Legionnaire’s often mimics the symptoms of pneumonia or even cold or flu, so it can be hard to diagnose. Signs include a cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle aches, headaches, chills and diarrhea.

In nature, Legionella can live in fresh water and rarely cause illness. In a manmade setting, Legionella can grow if water chemistry is not properly maintained. Common sources of infection of Legionnaire’s disease are often associated with large or complex water systems like those found in hospitals and cruise ships, water used for showering (potable water), cooling towers (A/C systems), decorative fountains and recreational bodies of water.

People can get Legionnaire’s Disease when they breathe in mist or by accidentally swallowing water containing Legionella into their lungs. In aerated water, Legionella can become trapped in the bubbles or mist from the aeration. When the bubbles break the surface, they burst and release fine droplets that contain the bacteria. People in the vicinity inhale the airborne droplets into their lungs, where the bacteria produce an infection.

Those at increased risk are adults over 50 years or older, current or former smokers and people with a weakened immune system or chronic disease.

In the United States, reported cases of Legionnaire’s Disease have grown by nearly four and a half times since 2000 resulting in the hospitalization of between 8,000 to 18,000 people every year. It is unclear whether this increase is due to increased awareness of the disease and testing, increased susceptibility of the population, increased Legionella in the environment or some combination of factors.

With an increase in the number of reported cases, insurance companies that insure pool contractors have also seen an increase in the number of claims regarding Legionella in the last few years.

Indoor spas and aerated water in confined spaces like indoor fountains are the most common reported sources of Legionella for recreational bodies of water.  Maintaining proper water chemistry in spas can be harder and provide additional problems due to higher water temperatures and smaller size compared to a swimming pool. Although seldom practiced, when it comes to maintaining a healthy spa, the most cost effective way is to drain and refill the spa daily with fresh water. It costs less than $10 a day for an average size spa which is cheap insurance compared to a Legionella claim.

There are several types of equipment available to sanitize the water
including UV and Ozone (which are expensive and complicated) but the most cost effective method to maintain healthy water chemistry is an automated chemical controller.

An automated chemical controller is designed to constantly test the water chemistry and automatically makes adjustments as needed by feeding sanitizer and PH control chemicals. Most chemical controllers will do an average job of maintaining good water chemistry but the better choice is to install a chemical controller that can remotely monitor these readings.

By Jerry Mason, HornerXpress / jerry@teamhorner.com

Do you want to grow your business revenues and profits, but not sure how? The answers may vary slightly based on what segment of the market you serve, but there is a common theme.

Here are a few of the “easy” answers.  If you build or renovate pools – you can sell more, sell more expensive pools, add fancy features, increase your prices or explore additional revenue streams.

If you are a pool service provider you can raise your price, but what if that puts your company out of consideration? You can service more pools, but doing so probably means you will have to hire more personnel and invest in additional equipment. So, how many additional pools are needed to breakeven or gain profit considering the added expense? You can provide additional services and or find additional revenue streams.

What’s the common theme?  Additional revenue streams.  You are already a trusted service provider if your company was chosen to build / renovate their pool or provide them service. Why not capitalize on that trust? Your current customer base is a huge asset, competitive advantage, and opportunity to grow your business. Tell your clients now you can do more for them than they may be aware of. Get your company and your clients thinking beyond the pool and into outdoor living and an entertaining space.

There is a steadily increasing desire for outdoor kitchens and outdoor living spaces. Think about where you are sitting right now. How many houses are there within a 10 mile radius of you? How many of those do you think would like to have a beautiful outdoor cooking or living space?  I know it’s a very large percentage. If you don’t believe me just ask your neighbors or better yet… your customers.

Now think about your customer base. If you are a pool builder or design consultant, how many of those pools sold in the past years now have an outdoor kitchen in their backyard? Why didn’t you capitalize on that opportunity? If you are a weekly service or repair provider how many times do you go into a backyard and see a newly installed outdoor kitchen or living space? Why didn’t you capitalize on that opportunity?

Here is some data demonstrating how huge the opportunity with outdoor living and outdoor kitchens really is. 

From the American Institute of Architects:

Though the desired size of a home’s kitchen may not be growing, architects have seen an increase in demand for outdoor kitchens. “Homeowners continue to find new ways to add value to their homes by creating more functional space, which is apparent in the rise in popularity of outdoor kitchens,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Kitchens have become a hub for the home, now homeowners want to bring some of that activity to their outside.”

From the National Association of Home Builders website:

Why outdoor kitchens are so popular: This question prompted us to conduct proprietary research to discover the “why behind the what.” We surveyed several hundred homeowners across the U.S. who either had purchased or intended to purchase an outdoor kitchen and here is what we found, an outdoor kitchen is viewed as an experience, while the indoor kitchen is viewed more as a room.

Our research indicated that consumers view indoor and outdoor kitchens very differently. The outdoor kitchen is all about fun, whereas the indoor kitchen has a higher focus on functionality. When planning and selling an outdoor kitchen, get the homeowner to express their ultimate outdoor experience, and design the space around their dreams.

Consumers are willing to spend big money.

When an outdoor kitchen is included in the cost of new home construction, the median investment is over $40,000. When adding an outdoor kitchen after new home construction the median cost is between $10,000 – $20,000.

View the full article, written by David Brown, in the Fall 2016 issue of Best in American Living.

The fact is many consumers want outdoor living experiences including outdoor kitchens. If your company isn’t focused on this growing demand, you are missing a huge opportunity. You have a huge competitive advantage over anyone else they can choose because they already know and trust your company. Use your existing customer base, sell them what they want, and increase your company’s revenue and profits.

By Walter Clemence, FSPA Government Affairs Manager / Walter@FloridaPoolPro.com

There have been a few changes in licensing requirements for LP gas.

Qualifiers and Master Qualifiers:  

Effective July 1, 2018, the license types and education requirements have changed for LP Gas Licenses.  If you previously held a Gas Installer or a Gas Specialty Installers license, you should have received and applied for your Cat 5 Installer License.  While not previously required, Master Qualifiers are now required for Specialty Installers licenses.  Under the new law, licenses are renewed every three years and applicants must provide proof of 16 hours of continuing education credits. 

FSPA will offer eight hours of LP approved continuing education available at the Everything Under the Sunsm Expo in February.  Three classes will be available; they are Chapter 527, 5J-20, and Emergency and Response. 

The list of approved training courses for LP Qualifier and LP Master Qualifier can be found on the FL. Department of Agriculture Website at www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/73843/2115526/Approved_Continuing_Education_Course_List.pdf.

Training Requirements for Employees of LP Gas Related Businesses:

While not a new requirement, this is a great time to remind everyone that all employees must receive training that is appropriate for the scope of their job activities and include proper handling and emergency response procedures. Employees are required to receive refresher training at least every three years.  The initial and refresher training must be documented.  Employees at LP gas related businesses being supervised by the Qualifier and Master Qualifier (for Cat I and V license types) do not need to complete the same 16 hours required for Qualifiers and Master Qualifiers.

Examples of training:

Certified Employee Training Program available from the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC)
www.propanecouncil.org

Programs developed by propane companies

Programs developed by government entities

The term refresher indicates that the periodic training could be less intensive than the original training, since the periodic training is to reinforce initial training, rather than to repeat it.  Refresher training should review important concepts but concentrate on changes in procedures, requirements, or applications that affect the employee’s primary duties that fall within the scope of NFPA.

Documentation of the training, must be maintained and be available for inspection at the employee’s place of business and needs to include:

  • Employee name
  • Primary job responsibilities and duties
  • Date of competed training
  • Description, copy or location of the materials used to conduct the training, including topics covered
  • Name, address and telephone number of the person or organization conducting the training and evaluation
  • Signature of the employee supervisor or trainer verifying the training and evaluation

For More Information read 5J-20.060, Florida Administrative Code National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 58-See Chapter 4 and the Appendix for Chapter 4.

I am happy to speak with you if you have any questions about the LP gas license or any other regulatory topic.  My email is Walter@FloridaPoolPro.com and the office number is 941-952-9293.

By Jonathan Mosher, A & D Pool / jonathan@adpool.today

Joining the FSPA two years ago was one of the best decisions I’ve made since coming to Florida.  I moved down to Florida from Ohio where I also worked in the pool industry. After working in this industry in both states for some time, I’ve realized something; the resources we have at our fingertips here in Florida are incredible. It’s amazing to see how active this industry is and even more fulfilling to be a part of its direction.

Safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to these bodies of water. This ever-changing industry is often times difficult to keep up with. I am constantly updating my employees on what to be looking for in terms of violations and code changes. Whether it be repairing a faulty flow meter or replacing the tile in a pool with nonskid, we aim to guarantee that all the new requirements are met. As the contractor of these locations it is our responsibility to ensure that we are providing just that and following state codes.

The best way that we can be keeping everyone safe is by making sure we are all on the same page. I had a great talk with our local Health Department a few weeks ago. During that discussion they expressed interest in wanting to be a part of our local chapter meetings and by sending a representative so we can discuss, teach, and learn each other’s guidelines and perspectives. I believe this is critical for our industry to ensure that we are keeping our pool patrons safe and to display that we are an active organization willing to listen and willing to guide.

We must also continue to grow the pool industry with input from other organizations to provide cohesion and make us a stronger, well respected industry. I believe that the FSPA is the front runner in this industry. We have a duty to impact other organizations, specifically in the vast construction industry that is leading us into the future by pushing us architecturally. There must be a continuation of our reach outside of just this organization to the others out there who we can impact and make our presence known. When we connect to other organizations we will gain perspective and knowledge that we can use to broaden our discussion at our state Board meetings.

The FSPA has been a center point of knowledge and education for me. When I need an answer that is where I turn, whether it be to a colleague, one of the great staff members or one of the contracted legislative liaisons. To be involved in the process, growth, and direction of the Florida pool industry gives me a direct advantage to know where this industry is headed and I’m hopeful to be involved in how it gets there. I want to encourage every member to know this organization is achieving great accomplishments and to challenge them to continue to make that its focus. Thank you for all you do.

FSPA Executive Director Wendy Parker Barsell, wendy@floridapoolpro.com 

It is the time of year to give thanks for all that we’ve received in the past year.  I am thankful for many things and the staff and volunteers of this association make my job much easier.

First, outstanding team members.  Each person who works at FSPA helps to make your association the best it can be.  Strong continuing education, attractive printed materials, appealing videos, prompt and accurate membership reporting, impactful government relations representation and pleasant customer service are just a few of the things that initiate from the state level.  The chapter service team works to strengthen the association in your community and add even more value to your annual membership.

The volunteer Board of Directors.  The state Board meets regularly in person to discuss matters affecting the entire industry including legislation and regulation.  In between quarterly meetings the committees review topics needing immediate attention.

The Executive Committee.  This group of seven gives many hours a month to consider issues, come up with ideas and overall works to make FSPA the largest and strongest state wide pool industry association in the country.  I work closely with this group who become my friends during their tenure on the committee.  Each person who volunteers to move up through the ranks of leadership in your association is there for the right reasons – to advance FSPA in Florida.

Every FSPA member.  More than 700 strong, members of the association represent every segment of the swimming pool industry.  Together, we employ almost 70,000 people in Florida!  Let’s be thankful for each other and what we’re all doing to advance the swimming pool industry in Florida.