Category Archives: Love Pool Industry

Your hardwork to build an awesome pool deserves some recognition!  Customers will love to hear that you are an award-winning company.  Prepare now for the 2019 Design Awards.  Entries are due October 31, 2018.

Design Awards entry form 2019

The annual Florida Swimming Pool Association Design Awards program gives members an opportunity to enter their pools, spas and water features for judging on workmanship, soundness of design, beauty, practicality and safety. Categories customized for Florida pool construction divide the entries by size, type of construction and features.

Pools are awarded a Gold, Silver, Bronze or Award of Merit based on a panel of industry judges’ review.  Each award winner receives a plaque with a mounted photo of the pool or spa so they may display their accomplishment to prospective customers.

Award winning pools are submitted to national industry magazines for publication and also distributed to the winners’ local media.

A special logo is available for the winners to use in ads, business cards and on company letterhead.

*FSPA membership must be paid in full to participate in Design Awards.
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This rule reduces the limit of respirable crystalline silica to 50 mg per cubic meter of air averaged over 8-hour shift.

Compliance dates
Construction industry September 23, 2017 (fully enforceable 30 days later, October 23)
General Industry June 23, 2018

Requires employers to:

  • Use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure;
  • provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure;
  • limit worker access to high exposure areas;
  • develop a written exposure control plan;
  • offer medical exams to highly exposed workers; and
  • train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.

Where to get more information:

Paperless Licensing, effective 05/04/2018

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation is excited to announce an advancement in how we license construction contractors in the State of Florida.
The Department has implemented an innovative way to expedite the licensing process for construction contractors. The Department will no longer be mailing licenses upon issuance, as licensees can now print their licenses by logging into their secure online account with the Department. This will allow new licensees to enter the work force at least 7 to 10 business days early, whereas, in the past, they would have to wait for the license to arrive in the mail. In addition to new licenses, this process will allow licensees to renew online and print the license at their convenience, as well as print duplicate licenses as needed without paying a fee.

http://www.myfloridalicense.com/DBPR/construction-industry/#1489159936159-f5999a2f-2160

By Terri Payton, Aqua Blue Pools / tupayton@gmail.com

Do you want the latest secret on how to increase your pay without having to work longer hours? With a little pre-planning and some extra time in front of the mirror each morning you can easily increase your sales. Despite what we all see in the public today with tattoos, piercings and casual clothing, your appearance still weighs heavily in the sales process. In a sales transaction the pre-planning of your appearance and grooming is critical because you are judged almost immediately.

According to a Forbes Magazine article “These computations are made at lightning speed.” Researchers from NYU found that we make 11 major decisions about one another in the first seven seconds of a meeting.  Surprisingly, the nonverbal cues weigh just as heavy as the verbal. Studies have shown nonverbal cues have more than four times the impact on the impression you make than anything you say. Given the fact that you may only meet your given prospect once or twice your appearance is crucial from the start. Many times you will not get a second chance!

I have noticed in our industry that many of my colleagues dress very casually because our work environment is outdoors and it is hot. That does not mean you need to look sloppy. You can still keep a business casual appearance which most consumers in Florida will respond to well. Simply dressing in clothes that are clean from stains, bleach marks or tears and are pressed will make a big difference. Think about when you are a consumer of a large ticket
item. How are the sales staff dressed? How do they appear? Doesn’t this help you trust them?

“The goal of a reputable business is to project a professional image that describes the nature of the business, its product and/or services and the people working in it. A goal of a professional image is to maintain the integrity of your brand and build credibility.” – Cynthia Bull, internationally published editor and writer, including a column called The Importance of a Professional Image.

So think about it tomorrow morning when you go to grab the first thing in your closet or drawer… People still judge a book by its cover! What does your “cover” say about you?

By Brett Holland, Treasure Pools /  brett@treasurepoolsfl.com

 It is 2018 and the demand for ozone is continuing to rise for residential swimming pools.  Consumers and industry professionals are both becoming more aware of the downsides of traditional sanitizers, such as salt chlorine generators, liquid chlorine and stand-alone tablet feeders. 

Ozone was first discovered 170 years ago, and then in 1937 the first ozone system was introduced into a commercial pool in the United States.  Since then, ozone has been mandated for use of all Olympic training and competition swimming pools, due to its disinfection and oxidation capabilities.  Ozone can change the molecular structure of organic and inorganic compounds, destroy them completely, and allow them to be easily removed from the water by the pool filter.  These compounds (sweat, urine, body oils, lotion, saliva, etc.) are what causes red/irritated eyes when combined with chlorine.  Traditional sanitizers, such as salt systems are not an effective alternative if you wish to eliminate these chlorine by-products also known as chloramines. 

Unfortunately, there is little to no knowledge by most industry professionals when it comes to sizing a proper ozone system.  Due to this, there has not been much success (unless you know how to properly size one).  Ozone is often presented as a cure-all, however typically undersized.  Whether you are a builder or a service professional that would like to offer your customers the cleanest, clearest water available in today’s industry, there are a few factors in sizing your ozone system I suggest you consider.

The three big factors for an ozone system are:  The output of the generator (Grams per hour/gph), contact tank, and oxygen concentrator.  I am going to provide you with a formula on the gph needed for your project at the end of this article.  Most common ozone systems produce (.5 gph-1.12 gph) and do not have a contact tank.  Some units have a mixing vessel which has minimal contact time, 20 seconds at best.  The most common size contact tanks I use are between 30-40 gallons and on average provide 4-7 minutes of contact time.  Oxygen concentrators are imperative here in Florida due to the moisture in the air.  They are important with corona discharge systems because without them you will have nitric acid build up within the unit.  This happens when moisture from the air (unfiltered ambient air) is struck with the electrical arc from the corona discharge.  This will cause premature failure of the ozone generator and require frequent unnecessary maintenance. 

Ozone dosage rates: Rates will vary from 0.1 – 0.5 ppm based on conditions such as:  water temperature, indoor/outdoor pool or spa, covered or uncovered, bather load, filtration type and chemical-use reduction.  I recommend using 0.5 ppm due to most Florida pools being uncovered and having a high water temperature.

Calculating the water shape’s flow rate:  Volume/360 minutes (six-hour turnover) = full flow gpm.
Example: 15,000/360 minutes= 41.7gpm
Ozone Output required, gph (grams per hour)
*Note that 0.228 is a multiplier used to calculate pounds per day of ozone to gph.  This is a fixed value.
Example: 0.5ppm ozone x 41.7 gpm x .0.228 = 4.75 ozone gph

Calculating the ozone loop flow rate:  The ozone loop flow rate will range from 15 – 30% of the full flow gpm, 20% is typical.
Example:  41.7 gpm x 20%= 8.34 gpm

Calculating the contact time divide the volume of the tank by the SS flow rate:
Example:  30 gallon tank/8.34 gpm= 3.59 minutes
*Calculating the CT value (concentration multiplied by Time) is based on the SS flow rate.

 As you can see on a standard 15×30 pool here in Florida, there is approximately 4 gph needed of ozone.  If the goal in your project is to get a maximum chemical reduction, a unit that produces between 0.5 – 1.12 gph will not meet your required ozone output.

I hope this article helps you when sizing your next ozone system.  If you have any questions please feel free to email me, and I will be happy to assist you with your project.

 References:
1.  Marc Debrum, “Ozone is Not Just for Residential Potable Water Treatment”, 2010
2. Marc Debrum, “The Ultimate Swimming Experience”, 2014

The scholarship application for the 2018-2019 FSPA Scholarship Program is ready!  Dependents of owners or company employees (of 2+ years) are welcome to download the application.  All materials are due in the office by June 29.  Spread the word to any company staff with graduating high schoolers or college students.

A situation a Florida business ran into recently made us believe that a short article on this subject might be of value.  The US Department of Labor contacted this business as a result of a former employee complaint.  The individual was a pool service technician who was paid per pool serviced vs. by an hourly wage.  When the Department of Labor contacted the business they asked for copies of the employer records demonstrating hours worked, etc.

The employer explained how the technicians were not paid hourly, how the hourly wage equated to well above minimum wage and that none of his technicians worked overtime (in fact they often worked far less).  Still, the failure to have detailed records on how many hours each employee worked was a failure in compliance according to the department.

Below are some of the basics on FLSA.  The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.

Nationally, nonexempt workers are entitled to a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009.  Florida has a $8.25 minimum wage.  Nonexempt workers must be paid overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times their regular rates of pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek.

Workweek – A workweek is a period of 168 hours during seven consecutive 24-hour periods. It may begin on any day of the week and at any hour of the day established by the employer. Generally, for purposes of minimum wage and overtime payment, each workweek stands alone; there can be no averaging of two or more workweeks. Employee coverage, compliance with wage payment requirements, and the application of most exemptions are determined on a workweek basis.

Hours Worked – Covered employees must be paid for all hours worked in a workweek. In general, “hours worked” includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer’s premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal activity of the work day to the end of the last principal work activity of the work day.  Also included is any additional time the employee is allowed (i.e., suffered or permitted) to work.

Some employees are exempt from the overtime pay provisions or both the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions.  Because exemptions are generally narrowly defined under the FLSA, an employer should carefully check the exact terms and conditions for each.  Detailed information is available from local WHD (Wage and Hour Division) offices.  Following are examples of exemptions which are illustrative, but not all-inclusive.  These examples do not define the conditions for each exemption.

Exemptions from Overtime Pay

  1. Certain commissioned employees of retail or service establishments; auto, truck, trailer, farm implement, boat, or aircraft sales-workers; or parts-clerks and mechanics servicing autos, trucks, or farm implements, who are employed by non-manufacturing establishments primarily engaged in selling these items to ultimate purchasers;
  2. Employees of railroads and air carriers, taxi drivers, certain employees of motor carriers, seamen on American vessels, and local delivery employees paid on approved trip rate plans;
  3. Announcers, news editors, and chief engineers of certain non-metropolitan broadcasting stations;
  4. Domestic service workers living in the employer’s residence;
  5. Employees of motion picture theaters; and
  6. Farmworkers

Recordkeeping
The FLSA requires employers to keep records on wages, hours, and other items, as specified in DOL recordkeeping regulations. Most of the information is of the kind generally maintained by employers in ordinary business practice and in compliance with other laws and regulations. The records do not have to be kept in any particular form and time clocks need not be used. With respect to an employee subject to the minimum wage provisions or both the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions, the following records must be kept:

  1. Personal information, including employee’s name, home address, occupation, sex, and birth date if under 19 years of age;
  2. Hour and day when workweek begins;
  3. Total hours worked each workday and each workweek;
  4. Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings;
  5. Regular hourly pay rate for any week when overtime is worked;
  6. Total overtime pay for the workweek;
  7. Deductions from or additions to wages;
  8. Total wages paid each pay period; and
  9. Date of payment and pay period covered.

Records required for exempt employees differ from those for nonexempt workers. Special information is required for homeworkers, for employees working under uncommon pay arrangements, for employees to whom lodging or other facilities are furnished, and for employees receiving remedial education.

Action by the Department
The Department is authorized to supervise the payment of unpaid minimum wages and/ or unpaid overtime compensation owed to any employee(s).  In lieu of litigation, the Department may seek back wages and liquidated damages, through settlements with employers. Liquidated damages can be as much as the back wages.  Civil money penalties may be assessed for child labor violations and for repeat and/or willful violations of FLSA minimum wage or overtime requirements.

Employers who willfully or repeatedly violate minimum wage or overtime pay requirements are subject to significant civil money penalties per violation.  Owners of a company can also be found to be personally liable.

Employers who violate the child labor provisions of the FLSA are subject to a civil money penalty of up to $11,000 for each employee who was the subject of a violation. These penalties may be increased up to $50,000 for each violation that caused the death or serious injury of an employee who is a minor, and may be doubled to $100,000 if the violation was determined to be willful or repeated.

All of this information was obtained form the US Department of Labor website.  Access to the specific site is http://www.dol.gov/whd/foremployers.htm. You are encouraged to contact the Department of Labor direct with any questions, comments or concerns.

By Mickey Sigmon, Pool Pro, Inc. / poolproinc@yahoo.com

Swimming pool season in Florida is year round as water temperatures only vary slightly from month to month. On the service side of the pool industry, the “winter” months provide the opportunity to get caught up from the busy fall season, experiment with new ideas, and plan our spring/summer attack for algae season – the poolkeeper’s nemesis.

Algae can sneak up on even the most diligent pool professional at the first sign of rising water temperature. The problem usually starts in the shaded, southern side of the pool. It can take days or even weeks to deal with this mess. It’s no picnic.

There is hope, however. A few simple preventive measures can reduce or eliminate our algae woes before they even begin. These three simple tips will save you time and money to enjoy springtime (and maybe even visit a few of those lush, green fairways).

  1. Change your pool filter. Algae grows in cold, dark filter canisters at night and is dispersed into the pool when the pump activates the following morning. Remember, a dirty filter makes a dirty pool. Make sure to clean it at least once a month.
  2. Brush tiles and walls at least once a week. This practice releases algae from its base preventing further growth. The chemically balanced pool water will finish the job before the pesky algae is sent to its watery grave in the pool filter.
  3. Test your water for phosphates. The magic number for phosphates is 0.0. If you have anything higher, you will grow algae. Phosphates are for lush, green fairways not sparkling, blue pools.

By Rick Myers, Team Horner /  rmyers@teamhorner.com

As I teach commercial pool classes, I always ask the question to pool technicians; what are some of the biggest challenges you face on a daily basis?  Undoubtedly, one of the top three to four answers are a property’s refusal to fix or address a leak.    In all of the 16 hour courses there is a math question that deals with a leaking pool and how to figure out how many gallons the pool is leaking on a daily basis.

However most times we just tell our customer that the pool is losing two inches or three inches a night.  In point of fact, the customer does not relate to two inches because they do not pay their water bill per night.  So what does a three inch leak cost the customer, or just as important what does it cost the pool company?  Let us say that a pool has a three inch leak on a 20×40 pool.  That means that every night, the pool is losing 1,500 gallons.  That also means that in one month the pool has lost 45,000 gallons.  That is 45,000 gallons on a pool that is only 27,000 gallons to start.  So what is the cost?  To the property, the cost of water in the water management district they live in they are paying each month for 45,000 additional gallons of water.  Even if they only pay half of a penny for water, that is an extra $25 per month for water, plus sewage.  Also it is important that they understand the other costs involved.  They are paying electric or propane or natural gas to heat basically 72,000 gallons of water, not 27,000.  At a minimum the heater or heaters may not be able to keep up, and at a maximum, they are paying to heat 2.5 times the amount of water they thought.   You can easily see that this will run into thousands of dollars of additional cost to the property.

Now let us consider the cost to the pool company.  You are charging a monthly price for maintenance and chemicals for a 27,000 gallon pool, but you are really paying the chemical cost of a 72,000 gallon pool.  Are you really making your standard profit margin on this pool, if this pool is even profitable to you?   At some point you will deem this pool unprofitable, and if the customer hires someone else, then they will probably suffer the same problems.

This is not even mentioning the environmental impact of that water either ending up in the city sewer or somewhere around the pool.  At some point there will be an environmental impact.

How can this be avoided?  By acting on a consultative basis to your property and showing them exactly what the cost is in dollars.  Everyone may not understand three inches, but they do understand the impact in dollars.  At the end of the day, they will hopefully see the light and view you and your company as a valuable resource.

Scott Amundsen, Aqua-Brite of Florida, Inc.

Welcome to a new year – 2018! We are inching closer to a new decade.  The world we live in today, as pool repair and cleaning specialists, is a much different world than it was 20+ years ago.  I remember, the year is 1995, a customer calls the office to schedule a service call.  The process usually took about 5-7 business days to get the customer on the schedule.  The tech would call in to “base” (the office) on the Motorola two-way radios to see if they could reschedule a customer because they were running behind that day.  Or the office would check in with the tech to see if he was still picking up parts and was going make it to Mr. Smith’s house before Friday to fix his pump.  The best part, the homeowner was happy to see the tech and have them complete the repair two weeks after their initial call.

Three days ago, I ordered a pizza from Uber Eats and watched on my smart phone as the order was processed, the driver picked up my order and then watched her little car on my app map.  In real time, it showed the ETA, in minutes and seconds, as to when she would arrive at my home with my food.  What does this mean to us?  Times are changing, and so are customers’ expectations.  Unfortunately, most small pool professional companies do not have the resources to use a sophisticated, web-enhanced software products to track all of the projects’ progress, check on the techs every move via GPS tracking, and use expensive dispatch software, or some other elaborate product, to artificially enhance our customer service abilities.

All we must do, as an industry, is go back to our grassroots.  Customer service was not lost, instead, customer demands have changed.  Expectations have increased in today’s society.  We all need to step up our game.  Almost every one of us has a smart phone these days.  If you search calendar programs and use the free apps, you can find many ways to keep in touch with your customer throughout the whole sale/repair/cleaning process for very little cost.

We all lose customers, for varying reasons.  However, the times are changing and the demand for communication is even greater.  If you communicate and “touch” your customer every day/week, throughout the process, they feel more involved and more connected to you through their experience with your company.  They feel like they are part of the process of getting their problems resolved.  They feel you care about the end results, you care about their pool problems and like they are your only customer.  Most customers who get angry with you (yell, cuss, get downright belligerent) are not mad at YOU.  Most of the time, it is based on their fear.  They fear that they wrongly hired you and you are not coming back.  They fear they are going to have to try to find someone else to fix their problem. They fear the quality of the new maintenance tech that will be cleaning their pool and caring for their equipment will not be the great communicator the last one had been.

Change is hard for some people.  When you coddle the customer with every move, even if there is no movement today to get their problem fixed, they do not feel like a number and they do not feel like they have been forgotten.  Example: June 2017 we had a customer call us to repair their portable hot tub. The spa was apparently one of the last to come off the assembly line before the manufacturer went out of business. Most of the parts, jets and pumps were scraped together from several different manufacturers to make a 45 jet tub. To date, we have NOT completed the job.  We continue to reach out and reassure the customer that we are working on finding suppliers for their tub’s parts.  Occasionally we will go out to the home to install some new parts we found.  As bankrupt companies liquidate parts and new companies buy pieces of the old, we find the jet insert or circulation pump we need and inform the customer.  We have received seven referrals from this project!

You may not be able to go out and finish each job in 30 minutes or less.  But spending 30 minutes every day, to update ALL of your customers, will win you more projects and make you a five-star company on a beer budget.