As 2022 gets underway, we delve back into the year that was 2021, and look at some of the good, the bad, and the exciting developments that made it another intriguing year for the pool, spa and aquatics industries.
The new year started with a new SPLASH! platform – the Ready Set SPLASH! Podcast with David Stennett and Luke Daly, which quickly proved popular with listeners.
In January, Brisbane-based modular splash pool manufacturer, Plungie, formed an exclusive partnership to supply up to 10,000 prefab swimming pools to Australian residential home building giant, Metricon.
In February, SPASA New Zealand appointed born and bred Kiwi, Jonty Mills, as general manager, an important milestone in the continued development of the NZ industry.
In the commercial space a highlight was February’s opening of the state-of-the-art highly sustainable Gunyama Aquatic Centre in Sydney’s fastest growing precinct, Green Square.
Also in February, Waterco led a successful Federal Court appeal to set aside an order that would have stopped the use of swimming pool and spa sanitising products containing hydrogen peroxide and polyhexanide hydrochloride.
It was a year of notable acquisitions, with Fluidra particularly busy in that space, picking up SR Smith in September – after SR Smith had themselves acquired Stark Bulkheads in March – and then acquiring Taylor Water Technologies in November. In October Best Water Technology Group acquired Lincoln Pool Equipment who had been their exclusive local distributor of their pool cleaners.
Waterco Limited celebrated its 40th anniversary in April, marking the milestone by reflecting on the tenacity that saw the company survive everything from shoestring budgets and factory fires to the GFC and the covid pandemic. Also in April, SPASA WA appointed Sadie Davidson as their new executive officer, replacing long term manager Bryce Steele who had retired earlier.
AIS broke ground in May for their new $7.5 million anode production facility, their third factory and the first dedicated anode production facility in the southern hemisphere.
Also in May, SPASA Australia announced an agreement to work more closely with the Australian Swim Schools Association. In August SPASA announced the purchase of the Brisbane consumer expo, while launching a comprehensive consumer media and face-to-face brand: Pool & Spa.
Sadly, covid wreaked havoc in the events scene again in 2021, and the SPLASH! Pool & Spa Pool Show had to be postponed, along with disruptions to many other industry events. It has been rescheduled for June 2022.
The Jump Loops saga entered its final stage in June, when the Federal Court ordered Jump Loops pay $23 million in compensation to its deceived franchisees, and founder and former managing director Ian Michael Campbell to pay compensation and a penalty.
One story that lasted for much of the year was attempts to keep public pools open during covid lockdowns, especially indoor pools. In related news, the closures also led to swim teacher shortages.
Another story that seemed to feed off itself was the cases of sexual and physical abuse by elite Australian swim coaches. Maddie Groves withdrew from the Olympic trials, citing a culture of misogyny. This was followed by series of serious allegations against swim coach John Wright and his eventual arrest, which in turn sparked Groves to come forward with more accusations of sexual abuse.
Tragically, a man died in August after being crushed by a crane at a fibreglass pool manufacturing facility.
In September, SPASA Victoria, which had been trading as SPASAVic, dropped its brand name and relaunched as the Master Pool Builders Association Australia (MPBAA).
Former AFL player Nicholas James Stevens was committed to stand trial in October after being charged with receiving $171,397 under the pretence of installing swimming pools in Mildura, Victoria, and for using a false document.
In October the Australian pool industry came of age with the announcement it would get its own prime time TV show, Best Pools.
Also in October, the City of Sydney announced it would look at building one or more harbourside swimming pools.
In November Fluidra Australia completed its 12-month long expansion of their manufacturing facility in Keysborough including a new 250m2 Fluidra Pro Centre, a training academy and a new development centre.
The 2021 awards season once again went largely online due to covid issues, but that didn’t stop some stunning winners being showcased, with the Queensland, South Australian, Western Australian, Victorian, New Zealand, New South Wales and ACT awards all providing excellent entrées for the main course of the National Awards for 2021.
While 2021 was a difficult year in many respects it also had many positives for the industry especially increased demand. We hope 2022 will have just as many tailwinds for the industry, but with substantially fewer obstacles.