The year 2021 is going to continue to be difficult for pool and spa professionals. With business booming for service technicians in pool-heavy regions of the United States, there is greater demand for chemicals and equipment than suppliers are capable of providing.
Robert Rankin, Vice president of Western Divisions of Pool Corp, the world's largest wholesale distributor of swimming pool supplies, parts and outdoor living products shared some insights into this ongoing crisis.
According to Rankin, the situation with dry chemicals (tabs/granular) is still challenging. Quantities remain limited and therefore prices continue to increase. He says he is still not sure when this will end or how bad it will get.
“Supply and demand will drive that, but we are not even into the season, the heat and the real usage. If commercial business (hotels, resorts, travel) takes off with relaxed Covid rules, then all bets are off for sure. That additional bather load could be the ‘straw’.” Rankin said.
With dry chemicals so notably undersupplied, it seems that salt water chlorine generator sales would have surged, but Rankin says that salt and other forms of alternative sanitization have 'bumped', but not beyond capacity.
“Liquid chlorine has been the immediate winner, especially in the West, as service techs already depend on the product and tend to default back when other forms are stressed.”
In the equipment supplies business, Rankin says it is very stressed and already at a critical phase.
“Demand was already strong, andTexas only added to that and caused shortages throughout the country. Price increase announcements for April/May from almost every vendor have added problems to concerns on top of limited supply.”
He says this is truly the perfect storm.
Furthermore, PVC prices are going up dramatically.
“Right now, there is limited supply on all forms of pipe, fittings, valves, etc., with no end in sight.”
Meanwhile, the entire state of Texas is under tremendous pressure. Rankin says there are literally thousands of pools in some sort of disrepair and not enough product available locally to address the full scope of the problem, and not enough nationally to be much help. Every market around the country is experiencing unprecedented demand, which means that no one outside of the state can be much help to Texas.
“Everyone is doing everything they can to juggle product and fulfill the huge backlogs they already face…and it is the first week of April!”
Rankin says this situation is worse than 2020 because of what happened in Texas and the extra stress that has been placed on vendors and, by association, the urgency it has put on the entire industry.
“This may be one of those rare years where anything and everything that can be manufactured will be sold.”