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26-39 50th ANNIVERSARY:SPN Master pages 15/09/2009 10:22 Page 34
spnfeature Celebrating 50 years of Swimming Pool News
Howard Gosling: ”The industry has grown over the
years, many of the faces have stayed the same, one
wonders where the new generation will come from”
In March 1976, a casual remark over lunch they became known, rather than swimming
in the Little Ship Club in London advised pool companies who sold a few hot tubs. The
me that one of the founder families of role of the specialist became more apparent.
Voxsan and the main financier had found Isolated instances of Legionnaires’ Disease
the company was struggling and as I at the in hot tubs occurred in the UK but none
time was doing company turnarounds he matched the 28 deaths and 242 cases of
asked me if I could look at it. I produced a Holland and a smaller outbreak in Belgium
report within a fortnight and an action plan which stopped their market growth in its
a week later. I was eventually asked to tracks and it is yet to recover. This became
implement the plan. the motivation to set up specialist spa trade
At that time the main competitors in the associations to emphasise the importance of combined with Peter Geekie Pools but found
swimming pool market were also family maintaining water hygiene. BISHTA, formed they couldn’t make it work, nor could they
owned companies such as Bartlett Brothers in 2001, seems to be the only organisation capitalise on their chemical range and find
Briswim products. in Europe which has thrived and officially synergy with PG so they sold it to Hawtin.
It was an exciting time because new recognised by the HSE/HPA. Under Patrick Thorpe’s guidance, the
products such as Baquacil were introduced We have had many years of growing chemical business of PrimeMix was acquired
and ICI had also announced the cessation markets and there is now more regulation in 1996 and Certikin International as it is now
of supply of chlorine gas to the public of what can be sold and transported, called has become a significant player in the
pool market. particularly in the field of chemicals where pool chemical business. It is perhaps ironic
In 1978, Olin (now Arch Chemicals) held more products are disappearing under the that Hawtin sold out to the parent company
a conference at Heathrow to launch the expense of trying to comply with the of the Astral Group as Certikin had fought
concept of water balance and to announce Biocidal Products Directive. off Spanish imports for decades. It shows
that they were opening their own office to In the late 70s and early 80s, it was more you don’t know what is round the corner.
sell HTH (High Test Hypochlorite (calcium fun, albeit less technical, but there was Much of the pool industry is in the hands
hypochlorite)) into the public pool market training available through the ISPE although of conglomerates and some such as Univar
as an alternative to ICI’s suggestion of it continues to struggle financially to get the into which Ellis & Everard was absorbed
sodium hypochlorite. training needed to ensure quality technicians. following its acquisition of Bartletts has been
Fisons who were then market leaders in In the early days, the US was the not entirely successful in growing its market.
chemicals for gardeners and agriculture dominant supplier of chemicals but now One venture that has proven successful is
had recently launched the Fi-Clor brand there is much more European domination. It SPATEX which I am proud I helped to start
under the leadership of Peter Bromilow is interesting to think that we used to have up in 1996 (together with Selwyn Mindell
with the granular Di-Clor and Tableted Tri- one UK supplier of test tablets (Wilkinson and Roy Harrison) and we have stayed loyal
Clor, the latter being carried out mainly by and Simpson – now Palintest) and there was to our slogan “By the Industry, for the
HydroChem (who later bought CPC and in one supplier of Water Testing equipment, Industry) and have raised over £1m which
turn sold out to Bayrol). Voxsan also Lovibond Tintometer. It was Palintest who has been spent on promoting the industry
introduced bromine into the public as well first introduced their own range of test including giving money to ISPE for training.
as the school and domestic market. equipment which led to Lovibond producing The industry has grown over the years,
The writing and maintaining of SPATA their own range of test tablets. many of the faces have stayed the same, one
Standards was still a regular occurrence Several large companies decided they wonders where the new generation will come
and the range of standards were extended would like a little bit of the market but the from and some companies are disappearing in
and updated. The market for spas “was acquisition by Laporte of Aquatech this recession which is something that was also
always going to take off”, we were being Marketing did not work out and nor did the happening when I first joined the industry.
told, but it never really seemed to happen, Ellis & Everard of Pool Builders. More than a Plus ça change!
until the late 1990’s. decade later, Ellis & Everard purchased
The most successful spa companies were Certikin Ltd, the manufacturers of white Howard Gosling owns and runs
those concentrating on selling hot tubs, as goods for pools which they eventually
Nigel Robertson: ”A positive theme is the quest for always been very high and along with the
way leisure complexes are now designed
information and the knowledge can we do it better” and the demands placed on them
publications either from ISPE, PWTAG or
In commercial pools the loss of the plant What has happened which is a very SPATA are essential reading.
room technician who worked all of his time positive theme is the quest for information The design of either domestic or
in the plant room knowing every nut and and the knowledge can we do it better, commercial pools has come a long way with
bolt was a major turning point in a move possibly cheaper than before. The industry the client being in the driving seat expecting
from preventative maintenance to either just is more receptive to new ideas and a very high standard of finish with an array
in time or panic calls for a service engineer. products as the client is more in the of equipment which the pool contractor is
Health & Safety and the standards driving seat than ever before. expected to be an expert in... thankfully this
relating to electrical and gas/oil Owners of swimming pools commercial is where a good distributor/manufacturer
standards has had the biggest impact or domestic are interested in saving on comes to the fore providing sound product
bringing home a variety of changes which H&V running costs hence companies like advice and support.
were needed but one does feel there is Heatstar introducing a number of new
now an over kill which dumbs down some products geared specifically for this task. Nigel Roberston is H&V Product
important issues. Standards in water treatment have Manager at Astral UK
34 Swimming Pool News October 09 >>> Digital edition available at
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