When PK Data President Bil Kennedy and his team completed its first Commercial Pool Industry Statistics Report in 1998, there was so little data on the industry that they had to start from scratch.

“To write that first report, we had to call all the permitting jurisdictions, gather and organize data and create an ongoing mechanism for people to have a real-time data source,” he recalls.

Today the Duluth, Ga.-based market research and consulting firm is one of the aquatics industry’s leading information resources. Kennedy and his team now publish the report, a statistical compendium of the industry, biannually.

The firm began tracking the residential pool market in 1992. With the success of its work in that market, it started tracking public pool permits and the building of new commercial pools in 2007. It reports an estimated 290,000 commercial pools in the continental United States and values the industry at between $2 billion and $2.5 billion.

“I think we have played a significant role in being able to define the market in terms of the underlying econometrics, and that’s something that’s never been done before,” Kennedy says.

As a veteran of the automotive industry, which is heavily invested in market research, Kennedy understands the value of such information and believes it will become more important to the aquatics industry as it continues to mature. Recently, he’s seen more residential pool builders taking an interest in the commercial side of the industry.

“As a builder, if you’re going to make an investment in a new market, you need to understand it and know what the statistical dynamics are,” Kennedy says. “Currently, we’re seeing a lot of acquisitions and are getting [many] requests from financiers.”