This is a tough one, especially considering everything we have all been through in 2020. When you add insult to injury with the fire at the BioLab chlorine manufacturing plant in August caused by Hurricane Laura, the pool service industry is really feeling the crunch.
The BioLab Fire
We have seen ever-increasing costs for equipment, parts, and chemicals during the past year, which we managed to absorb during the course of the year. After a lot of work from leaders within the industry, pool services were deemed essential during the pandemic and it looked like the industry would make it through 2020 fairly unscathed. Then, the unthinkable happened. Unfortunately, the BioLab fire was the last straw.
Hurricane Laura ravaged Westlake, Louisiana as a Category 4 Hurricane. She brought flooding and destruction, tearing down trees, breaking power lines, and completely devastating the area. The BioLab factory, blessedly evacuated for the storm, but at some point during began to burn. The facility stored over 800 tons of pool industry chemicals - most prominently chlorine tablets.
The news of the destruction and loss of a huge portion of the country's supply of pool industry related chemicals led to companies all over the country trying to stock-up on inventory. The cost of chlorine tabs (just as an example) has increased by 77.28%. This and the scarcity of product has forced many retailers and wholesalers to enforce quantity restrictions., making it difficult for us to adequately stock our inventory. We have started sourcing other suppliers as well as looking into alternative options for maintaining the water chemistry in the pools.
What This Means for You
Unfortunately, word on the street is that this increase in pricing will not come back down once the availability issues are resolved. We decided in November that a price increase was inevitable. In December, we notified all existing customers of the increase by email. We hoped that would give everyone enough time to either budget for the new monthly rate or seek out other companies. The support thus far has been overwhelming and our appreciation for your understanding is immeasurable.
From day one, we have modeled our business to raise the standard many in this area have come to expect from service related contractors and businesses. Finding the balance between competitive pricing and above industry standard customer service can be challenging at times, but are values we live by. We plan to continue those values and have already within our organization implemented a thrift culture to keep the increase to a minimum. We have also delayed expanding our service department to keep overhead as near minimum as possible to absorb additional inflation in the future.
We still have goals of adding another technician and route in the 2nd quarter of 2021.
We appreciate all of you so much and are hoping 2021 brings wonderful things to you and your loved ones.
We thank you for your support and continued business. Stay safe!