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Concord Pools bets big with Viking Pool distribution center

The owner of Concord Pools & Spas is looking to capitalize on the fastest-growing segment of the swimming pool industry by opening a fiberglass pool distribution center in Queensbury, New York.

Mike Giovanone will open a Viking Pool distribution and pool dealer training center off Exit 18 of the Interstate-87 Northway next month. He expects to sell 150 fiberglass pools within the first year to buyers in New York, Vermont and Massachusetts.

The project is part of a $5 million investment that Giovanone and Concord Pools of Latham are making to expand pool sales and further diversify operations. Giovanone received town approval Wednesday to open his new 60-unit Boat N RV business next door to the distribution center. That project, which will be expanded to 130 units by next year, will house luxury boats, collector cars and motor homes worth as much as $2 million apiece.

The swimming pool distribution center will bring a new concept to the industry that Giovanone said is part of an attempt to help rebuild pool sales which plunged during the housing crisis and still have not fully recovered.

A total of 175,000 in-ground pools were sold in the United States in 2005 before the housing crisis. The number fell to about 40,000 a year during the recession and has risen to about 60,000 annually over the past few years.

Giovanone's plan to open a Viking Pools distribution center could have an impact beyond Concord Pools. Viking Pools is a subsidiary of Latham International, a Latham, New York pool and parts maker that employs 1,200 at 21 factories in the United States and Canada. Latham International employs 350 in the region.

"We are trying to do something that is going to better the industry," Giovanone said.

The Saratoga Springs resident has been working in the pool industry since he was in high school. He purchased Concord Pools in 1979 and has installed 12,000 pools in the Albany region.

"The biggest detriment to the fiberglass pool segment is logistics," Giovanone said.

He approached Viking Pools president Tom Straub and Latham International CEO Mark Laven in the spring about opening a Viking Pool distribution center in Queensbury. Shipping five or six pools at a time will dramatically reduce trucking costs, and it will enable Concord to offer sales and installation training for dealers throughout the Northeast.

The Queensbury site will house pallets of Viking Pools products and up to 40 fiberglass pools that will be visible to Northway traffic.

"This is a product that you have to see," he said.

Pool construction is $12.3 billion industry in the United States, according to an August report from IBISWorld. Analysts project the industry will grow at a rate of 3.7 percent a year for the next five years. In-ground fiberglass pools account for 13 percent of the overall market, but Giovanone said that portion of the industry has been growing the fastest for the last several years.

Giovanone is expanding in the Queensbury area because the region north of Saratoga Springs has been one of his fastest growing markets over the past five years. And there are 2,000 approved single-family building lots within a 10 mile radius of the Queensbury distribution center.

The expansion adds to Concord Pools operations, which include its headquarters and retail store in Latham, plus a store in Saratoga Springs. Giovanone also operates a 160-unit Boat N RV location on Saratoga Lake, which has been fully occupied since it opened seven years ago.

The new boat storage and distribution center were constructed by Munter Enterprises, a Middle Grove contractor. The project was financed by Adirondack Trust in Saratoga Springs.

Giovanone purchase the property two years ago for $1.4 million.

Posted on Albany Buisness Journal by Robin K. Cooper. Read the original article here