Joe Kells--DGM Photography

Covington, La.-based PoolCorp used its recent annual Retail Summit to showcase its new partnerships with two outdoor living manufacturers. The organization has partnered with Plank & Hide, an outdoor furniture manufacturer, as well as Atlantic Water Gardens, a corporation that offers water feature equipment, including fountains, spillways, and pond-free falls.

“The show was really an extension of [our new tagline],” said John Garcia, corporate director of retail and chemicals for PoolCorp. About a year ago PoolCorp added the tagline, “Where Outdoor Living Comes to Life” to its name. The purpose was to showcase the organization’s commitment to the backyard living market. “We wanted not only our customers, but also our employees to understand that’s where we are headed and that’s really where the industry needs to head,” said Ted Lawrence, corporate retail category manager at Poolcorp.

In the works
Lawrence notes that the outdoor living market has been inching its way to the forefront of the pool and spa industry for some time now. Once upon a time the average attendee at both national and regional shows would only see a few fire pits and outdoor grills on display. But backyard living corporations now take up a higher percentage of floor space. He also notes that consumers no longer view outdoor living items as luxury goods. The desire for these products is now more widely spread among both middle- and upper-class consumers.

And PoolCorp will be offering its customers plenty of options from Plank & Hide. The company has created five collections of furniture and outdoor lifestyle products especially for PoolCorp customers. Lawrence describes the product lines as “simple yet complex” and they include a number of items, including barstools, fire pits, dining sets, and chaise lounges.

The prototypes were showcased at the Retail Summit and the products will be in the PoolCorp warehouse and ready to ship to customers by the end of February, said Lawrence.

And for the end users who want to hear the sound of rushing water as they prepare meals in their outdoor kitchens and serve them in their outdoor living space, PoolCorp’s partnership with Atlantic Water Gardens has got them covered. The two companies began working together about a year ago, and attendees at the Retail Summit were among the first pool professionals to see Atlantic’s product line. And while the company has not created a special collection only for PoolCorp customers, Garcia notes that PoolCorp was very satisfied with everything that Atlantic brought to the table. “It worked out well,” he said.

Lawrence understands that pool professionals might be a little hesitate to make the leap into selling a new product category simply because it’s human nature to fear change. But moving forward, he hopes that dealers will understand that they can go to PoolCorp not only to source outdoor living products, but also for advice and training to help relieve the fear and reservations. “It’s a proven fact that those dealers who focus on outdoor living are some of the ones who are growing in this business, who are thriving, and certainly who are very profitable,” said Lawrence.