Reinventing the Fibreglass Pool

Leisure Pools

Fourteen years ago, Kerry Pain and his son David launched their own fibreglass pool manufacturing company. Kerry’s wife soon joined the team, making Leisure Pools a true family affair.

Kerry was a long time industry insider, which provided a considerable advantage, but the startup was still a rather humble venture in its early days. “We started off in quite a small way,” Kerry recalls, “but it grew from there.” In fact, the company’s growth has been nothing short of astronomical; Leisure Pools is now one of the largest fibreglass swimming pool manufacturers on the planet. The business boasts manufacturing facilities in Yatala, Queensland and Tennessee in the US, as well as a worldwide network of dealers to sell the company’s range of swimming pools and water features around the globe.

From day one, the team hasn’t been afraid to make a bold splash in a market that was starved for new ideas. This willingness to innovate has been key to the company’s success. “We came in as a bit of a breath of fresh air really,” Kerry explains. “We came in with brand new designs, and the new designs attracted a lot of people.” Until Leisure Pools came on the scene, fibreglass pools suffered from rather generic designs. “They were all very round, kidney shaped designs,” says Kerry. “And then we came along with a design called the Elegance – a square cornered, modern looking pool.” The response was huge. “All of a sudden we went from one of the small guys in the industry to one of the bigger players in the industry. It put us on the map.”

Leisure Pools has been rolling out innovative designs ever since. “We always think of ourselves as a market leader rather than a market responder,” says General Manager, Jason Smith. “All of the major changes that you are now seeing in the design of fibreglass pools have come from us. We were the first ones to bring these designs to market.” In short, Leisure Pools has been instrumental in redefining what the fibreglass pool industry can achieve. “I never thought it was possible to do some of the designs that we can now do,” Jason adds.

The team’s most recent game changing design is a patent pending infinity pool called the Horizon. “There is nothing like it in the market at the moment,” shares Jason, and creating an infinity pool out of fibreglass was a bold move even for this ambitious company. “No one had ever done a wet edge fibreglass pool with a retention tank at the bottom to recirculate the water,” Kerry explains. The design requires the pool to be built partially above ground and partially below ground, which was quite a challenge since a fibreglass shell is traditionally placed completely below ground in order to use that surrounding ground for support. The creative minds at Leisure Pools found a way, however, and the Horizon has been making waves worldwide since its release last year. “The response has just been enormous.”

Leisure Pool’s leading edge technology also sets the company apart. The business boasts its own patented technology, which allows the team to produce some of the highest quality fibreglass pools on the market. For starters, the team developed Composite Armour™ so that they could create a stronger fibreglass shell. “We decided to look for a better way to build the pool rather than using the traditional materials,” Kerry remembers. “There is a lot of space age product around and we began to experiment with various high performance fibres.” The result is a leading edge material which consists of a blend of Dupont™ Kevlar®, Carbon fibre and Basalt fibre, that is strong enough to provide a solid foundation whilst still maintaining structural flexibility. In fact, a Leisure Pool Composite Armour™ swimming pool is 111 per cent stronger than a standard fibreglass swimming pool. Leisure Pools has also developed Composite Armour™ Step Technology™ to offer a more solid step and bench to all its pools that do not flex or bounce under the swimmer’s weight. “We have ended up with a stronger pool; it just performed so much better.”

Leisure Pools also uses Corrosive Resistant Vinyl Ester Resin to construct every layer of its composite fibreglass swimming pools (except the gelcoat colour layer). This is in stark contrast to traditional construction methods, which use only one layer of vinyl ester resin followed by several layers of polyester resin. The high performance vinyl ester resin provides greater strength than the polyester resin, and it prevents water from leaking into the laminate, a problem commonly referred to as osmosis. Osmosis is a well-known problem within the industry, but no other company manufactures a fibreglass pool made entirely out of vinyl ester resin as standard. “Nobody has done that before because of the cost,” Kerry explains.

The team refused to let cost get in the way of quality. Leisure Pools compared resins from all around the world to find the best quality. “To maintain the quality we actually put in a complete laboratory to test every bit of resin that came in.” The company also hired a scientist with a Ph.D. in polymer chemistry to run the tests. Soon, the team decided to expand its quality control operations even further. “We thought, let’s test everything that goes out of this place. Now we run tests on all the material that comes in and on the finished product that goes out.” As a result, “our quality is way above everybody else in the industry.”

Leisure Pools combination of its Composite Armour™, full Vinyl Ester construction and quality control allows the company to stand behind its products with a full lifetime structural and structural osmosis warranty. “That is unheard of in the market place,” Jason points out. “I think that is really what sets us apart from the competition.”

Fibreglass pools are gaining popularity throughout the country, and their sales have surpassed that of traditional concrete pools. “When I first came into [the industry], about 70 per cent of the pools were built out of concrete, 15 per cent out of fibreglass, and 15 per cent out of vinyl liner,” Kerry recalls. “Now, over half of the pools built in Australia are fibreglass pools.” Fibreglass designs have improved so much in recent years that many people can’t even distinguish between fibreglass and concrete swimming pools. “We have a nine pool display here on the Gold Coast, and I can’t tell you how many times I have had consumers walk into this display and ask, ‘is this a concrete or is this a fibreglass pool?’” Jason says. “That’s how much the industry has evolved over the past 15 years.”

Of course, one of the greatest advantages of fibreglass is the ease of installation. “Once the pool has been manufactured and delivered to site, people are swimming inside a week,” Jason reports. “With concrete, you are talking months.” Kerry adds that, “When you make your mind up that you want something, you don’t want to wait three or four months to have it done. You want it yesterday. And that has been a big factor in [the popularity of] fibreglass pools; they are very quick to put in.”

The pools are also much easier to maintain than concrete pools. Concrete contains calcium, and this calcium constantly leaches into the water and increases the alkalinity. “You have to continually add acid into a concrete pool. It is a day to day, week to week proposition to balance your pool. But with fibreglass the surface is chemically inert, so there is nothing in that pool that will increase the pH on the alkalinity side.” As a result, acid only needs to be added to a fibreglass pool very occasionally. “It makes the pool so much easier to look after, because the pH is always pretty well in line.”

Concrete pools can be the better choice if a consumer is looking for an individualised design. However, most people aren’t looking for a one-off swimming pool design though. “The average person wants their pool to be quick to put in, to look nice, and to be very easy to look after – that’s why they go with fibreglass.”

With so much to offer, fibreglass swimming pools are likely to continue to increase in popularity. Leisure Pools plans to keep leading the industry with innovative designs to meet this rising demand. Most notably, the team is currently expanding its international operations. “We are a very proud Australian company – and Australia will always be our base – but I think in the next five years, Leisure Pools will see its major growth coming from overseas,” Jason remarks. “I think our future is to grow to be a truly global brand.”

For more information about Leisure Pools, please visit http://www.leisurepools.com.au/.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 19, 2018, 5:31 PM AEDT