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7 Qualities of the Best Fiberglass Pool Builders in America

7 Qualities of the Best Fiberglass Pool Builders in America

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Although I’ve been living the life of a ‘pool guy’ for over 10 years now, it has been over the last 3 where I’ve really begun to know the industry in and out. Because of this blog, the eBook, and the events I’ve had the opportunity to teach at, my conversations with fiberglass pool builders and consumers all over North America have increased 100-fold. In fact, on a normal day I’m now getting as many emails outside of our installation area (Va/Md) as I am inside.

I do not mention the facts to brag. No, such is not my goal at all. As most of you know, I’m all about teaching. I love learning, giving, and sharing knowledge in all its forms. Being a part of ‘the great discussion’ has satiated this tremendous need I have. Along this path of discussion with so many people, I’ve come to notice certain qualities that every great fiberglass pool builder has. And although most of these qualities are certainly applicable to vinyl and concrete pool builders, I decided to focus on fiberglass for now as it’s a subject that has weighed heavily on my mind for quite some time now.

So without further yapping on my part, I’d like to point out the top 7 qualities of the best fiberglass pool builders in the world today:


1. A Focus on Fiberglass

Although there are a few exceptions to this rule, in general the best fiberglass pool companies only focus on fiberglass. Instead of pretending to be great at more than one type of swimming pool, they focus their thoughts and efforts on becoming great with one thing.

As I’ve watched many pool builders throughout the country expand into fiberglass due to consumer demand and the need for diversification in a down economy, I’ve also seen quite a few mistakes by builders who got into the business and simply assumed that installing a fiberglass pool would be a piece of cake.

Granted, installing such a pool is not rocket science, but there are certainly many things that can go wrong. This is why a crew that installs fiberglass all the time, and experiences the repetition that comes with said installations, will likely commit fewer errors than a crew that ‘occasionally’ installs fiberglass.


2. Gravel Over Sand

If there is anything about this blog that I’m proud of, it’s the fact that it has brought so much attention to the importance of using gravel (small size, roughly 3/8”) as a base and backfill versus the antiquated approach of using sand with fiberglass pools. Even better, most manufacturers have embraced this paradigm because inevitably, even though installations usually end up costing more initially, the pool structure benefits over time.

Five years ago I’d say only about 15% of fiberglass pool builders used gravel as a base and backfill. Today, I’d estimate the number of gravel users to be about 70%—a huge change for sure, and one that will only benefit the industry in the long run.

At this point, even the most old-school installers have begun to embrace the common-sense and qualitative approach of gravel utilization.


3. Not Accepting the Status Quo

This goes along with sand versus gravel but it needs to be given attention as well. You see, for years there were a few ‘power-players’ in the fiberglass pool industry that really controlled the industry’s image, consumer awareness, and installation methodologies.

But as we all know, the ‘status quo’ is often times NOT a good thing. Today, instead of just accepting things ‘the way we've always done it’, builders all over the United States and Canada are looking for new ways to innovate, change, and become better at what they do. I think this movement is wonderful and I’m excited to see what it will bring to the industry over the next decade.


4. An Understanding of Product Limitations

This quality applies to all pool builders and what it stems from is the fact that most pool builders are very biased. The ‘liner guy’ thinks everyone should go liner. The ‘concrete guy’ looks down on the ‘other guys’ because ‘unless it’s concrete, it’s not a real pool’. The fiberglass guy tries to pretend their product has no limitations at all…and on and on and on.

The fact is that fiberglass isn’t for everybody. Yes, it does fit the needs of about 85% of the market, but for the person that absolutely has to have a size/shape/depth beyond the scope of fiberglass, then it might not be a great fit. This is why every year I tell every homeowner, quite bluntly, that I might not have a product for them. And do you know what? I’m OK with that…because it’s the truth.

Pool builders need to stop acting like their product is perfect. The concrete guy needs to accept the higher maintenance that comes with their product. The liner guy needs to stop misleading homeowners to believe that the liner will go at least 15+ years before replacement. Fiberglass guys need to accept size limitations.

I have seen a few builders around the country utilize such an honest approach and to them I say Good for You. You are doing a favor to the industry. Your honesty will be rewarded.


5. Hold Manufacturers  Accountable

Nobody is perfect. This applies to all pool builders and it certainly applies to fiberglass pool manufacturers. I’ve seen 2 types of builders over the years:

  1. The one who thinks their manufacturer is flawless
  2. The one who appreciates their manufacturer yet looks for them to improve

As you might imagine, I’m not a fan of the ‘Our Pool Manufacturer is Perfect’ builder.  We want the industry to be better, and we want the pools found therein to be built and installed better. That is our goal and I see us getting closer each and every day.


6. Willing to Fix Mistakes

Ahhh, the tough one. Maybe the hardest thing to do in any business is to fix mistakes that eat up profits. The life of a pool builder is no different. We all make mistakes. In fact, I tell every customer that I by no means can guarantee their job will go perfect, but I can guarantee they’ll recommend us to their friends when it’s all said and done.

Such is the true mark of a great company. Are they willing to fix mistakes when it was their fault or do they just tell the homeowner to deal with it?


7. A Focus on Education

As previously mentioned, I love teaching. That’s why I (and my biz partners) write this blog. 90% of the people that come to this website are not even a potential customer of River Pools. But this matters not, as our goal here with this blog and everything we do is to empower pool shoppers through great education.

I’ve seen other pool companies around the country begin to jump on this education wagon, which, to say it in the very least, thrills me. So as you go about looking for your pool builder, ask yourself how much time they’ve invested in your education. Are they ‘though leaders’ or focused solely on making more sales? The difference between the two can be quite profound.


Although I’m sure there are other mentionable qualities with merit, I hope these at least help some of you out there that are in the process of researching swimming pools to make the best decision for you and your family. I would also invite the pool contractors/manufacturers out there that have read this to offer your thoughts on the matter. What qualities would you add? Do you agree or disagree with what I’ve written here?

As always, Happy Swimming to everyone.


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