A prominent player in the European stainless steel pool market, Austrian manufacturer Berndorf Bäderbau now is doing business in the United States.

The firm is a major presence in 14 countries throughout Europe and enjoys 30- to 70-percent market shares, depending on the nation. But the stainless steel pool market there is becoming more saturated, causing Berndorf to look elsewhere in its desire to expand. “As ... Europe is a tough playground with a lot of competition and pricing issues, we thought it would be good to look outside the European Union,” said Berndorf New Markets Executive Gregor Waldhauser.

The manufacturer began doing business here in December. It works and produces solely from its Berndorf, Lower Austria headquarters so, for the time being, it will work with U.S. clients and colleagues from its Austrian facilities. This includes sales and consulting, as well as design and production of the pools, which will be shipped to the U.S. for on-site assembly. In the short term, it plans to send its own staff to perform installation here.

But that isn’t the long-term plan. The company is prepared for a gradual entry, but eventually hopes to become a major player in the U.S. stainless steel market, even increasing demand for this type of pool. “The U.S. is a very big, complex market, not to be underestimated,” Waldhauser said.

As such, Berndorf plans to eventually set up U.S.-based operations and train installation crews. “We know it is important to have a facility here and local support,” Waldhauser said.

The company expects to work in both residential and commercial markets. Stainless steel pools are especially considered attractive for applications on rooftops and between floors, because of their lighter weight, so the manufacturer plans to target those types of projects, but not exclusively. The company also will offer its services to colleges, universities, YMCA’s and other clients in need of semi-Olympic pools, which may find this type of pool to be more cost-efficient, said Artur Rizvanov, the manufacturer’s director of international sales. On the residential side, executives are talking to architects, landscape architects, designers and pool contractors. Resorts also are anticipated as part of the mix.

“We’re trying a multi-pronged attack,” Waldhauser said.

In the European pool market, stainless steel models make up about ⅓ of sales, Waldhauser said.

Berndorf says it is the first company in the world to produce a stainless steel pool, in 1970. Its parent company, which supplies metals and metal products, began in 1843 under a different name.