I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I had a surprising conversation with Scott Hester from Counsilman-Hunsaker yesterday that everyone needs to hear. According to Scott, despite signs that the overall economy is turning around, the aquatics industry is only beginning to feel the effects of the slump. While things have slowed down for his firm, many projects are still moving forward, simply because of the nature of public financing: i.e. money is in the pipeline from past bond measures when the economy was still good.

This may be surprising to many pool operators out there who are fighting to just keep their facilities open in the midst of this downturn. Indeed, it seems like daily, I tweet about facilities that are either closing or struggling to maintain staffing. Here's just one example.

Despite all the pain out there, Scott says most facilities won't start really feeling the crunch until a year or more from now. He says the now notorious Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act has artificially quickened the pace of budgetary problems. But there's a whole slew of facilities, who having dodged that bullet, must still survive financial onslaughts to come.

Still, Hester says now is not the time to go into bunker mentality. If you have projects you want done, or renovation that's needed, start the planning process now, especially if you can afford to start the work. Contractors are hungry for jobs and you'll likely get a much better bid now than if you wait until the economy turns around.

Silver lining? Depends on how you see it — and what shape your budget is in.

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