BELOIT—Wolter Pools & Spas, 3180 S. Prairie Ave., is sporting a new look after having a business boon thanks to safe recreation seekers in 2020.
Despite a 25% increase in sales, business co-owner Kim Wolter said there will be some delays in pool installations and product shortages due to distribution challenges coupled with increased demand for pools and spas and related products.
Those in the industry say it could be 2022 or 2023 before the demand levels out. Since the pandemic, many people are investing in their backyard with time in their pool or a new spa.
Wolter Pools & Spas sells and installs vinyl lined in-ground pools; sells and services hot tubs; offers pool and spa maintenance; does water testing for pools and spas and sells products to keep the water clean.
Last March when the pandemic hit, there were 15 spas on the floor and a warehouse full of product. The business had to briefly shut its doors before moving to curbside pickup. People would drop off their water samples for lab testing and staff would bring out needed products. Soon, the business was deemed essential as pools and spas can be a health hazard if not properly cared for.
By the end of April, business started picking up as people realized they would be spending the summer at home as vacations got canceled and people refrained from going to health clubs. People wanted to spend time in quarantine with their families by the pool or exercising in them, while others sought out spas.
“We ended up selling all the spas we had on the floor. We went to order more and there were delays because of wood being at a high premium,” Wolter said.
All spas sold out, staff moved ahead to help with putting in all new carpeting and installed new shelving to give the business a makeover.
Wolter estimates sales increased 25% since the pandemic, a number which could be much higher if there weren’t shortages of items such as pool liners, skimmers, spa covers and more. Items which go into spas such as wood and foam are in short supply as well as accompanying pumps. Where Wolter would get a semi truck load of product a year ago, it might only get a pallet of product now.
The business is sold out until mid 2022 for in-ground pool installations. It also has 40 in-ground pool liner replacements scheduled. Wolter encourages anyone in need of services or products to contact the store to try to get ahead of the delays. The business has had customers from Whitewater and Harvard and beyond seeking products due to shortages.
Co-owner Kim Wolter runs the business with her brother-in-law Tom Larson. Her parents, the late Russ and Pat Wolter started it in 1965 out of their home.
Twenty years ago they built the 10,000-square-foot building on Prairie Avenue. In summer months the business has about 15 employees and about six in the winter.
Wolter said she grew up in the business, working there as a child.
“I love talking with our customers. When we sell a pool, they become a family. We encourage them to come back and get to know their family,” Wolter said.
For Wolter, her work is a great experience as pools often are the centerpiece of family activities and where lots of memories are made. Wedding receptions and other parties, for example, are often centered around the pool. In the coming years people may rely more on the recreation right in their own backyard.
“We are providing family time and relaxation for people, and I think it’s a good thing,” Wolter said.