On top of the other issues the local pool and spa industry has been facing this summer (drought, fire, dust-storms and floods), a new threat arose in the new year: coronavirus.
The spread of the epidemic in Hubei province and further afield in China has led to disruptions to the supply chain of some essentials for the industry, notably pool equipment and chemicals.
Paul Simons, managing director of Lo-Chlor Chemicals, says the coronavirus is something very real and very concerning to the industry.
“The ripple effect I see coming from one region in China is completely unprecedented and something that should be a real concern for all of us,” he says.
“Many companies are affected from all sectors that rely heavily on manufactured parts, finished goods, chemicals and other elements that come directly out of China. While there are some local manufacturers left in Australia, our reliance on China is enormous and this is going to have an impact,” he says.
“I don’t think we will see the real effects here in Australia for another six to eight weeks, but the threat is real and we could see a number of key areas of our industry affected.”
Some of the chemicals affected include cal hypo, di-chlor and other chlorine based sanitisers, as well as balancing chemicals such as buffer and calcium chloride. Stabiliser is less of a concern as the season is coming to an end.
Simons says that regarding specialty chemicals, companies like Lo-Chlor manufacture their entire line locally so there won’t be issues regarding supply.
However, he says some chemical companies rely on overseas blends either provided as finished goods or in bulk tankers. These companies will have long term supply issues and will have to seek local sources or find themselves out of stock.
He says that the recent fires and dust storms have already put a strain on chemical supplies in Australia, and the effect of the coronavirus will compound those issues to an extent that is, at present, difficult to estimate.
Additionally coronavirus has led to concerns with responsibility and sanitisation in public pools. For advice see the coronavirus (Covid-19) resources from Department of Health .
Delivering in new ways
SPASA Australia has received a number of calls relating to both these topics, and CEO Lindsay McGrath says that this challenge comes on top of the drought, regulatory issues, the fires and the floods.
“Our new challenge is the coronavirus which is has stretched the Asia Pacific logistics capabilities with manufacturing and shipping delays, postponements and cancellations causing difficulties to supply,” he says.
However, McGrath says the pool and spa industry is in a better position than many other industries.
“Fortunately a diverse supply chain is available to pool and spa businesses,” he says. “Many industries don’t have such a range of suppliers, products and services that meet similar requirements.
“The variation in filtration, circulation and chemistry options are being utilised by many of our members. In times of hardship we are seeing more creativity than just swapping one brand of product that is out of stock to another supplier.”
He says an opportunity lies in delivering the outcome for the customer in a way they didn’t expect.
“I would encourage all proprietors to lend an understanding ear to their supply network, and to view this hardship as the opportunity it is – to educate your teams on the alternatives, get feedback from them, and provide a good result for the customer.
“The customer is looking for a solution, not just a quick fix or direct replacement, and there may even be the opportunity to upsell them on a more efficient or higher quality product.”
Caption: Novel coronavirus (Covid-19)