Every month, we chat with Thursday Pools dealers to learn more about their business and what’s trending in their area. This month, we talked to David Burton, co-owner of Burton Pools and Spas in Springdale, Arkansas.
Tell us a little about yourself and about Burton Pools and Spas
My brother Dan and I started our business in 1978. At the time, I was 22, working at Kroger and at the fire station. But while all the other guys I knew were sitting around the fire station reading magazines, I was looking for a business opportunity. I knew I wanted to own my own business. My brother was working construction. Somebody sent me an article about the pool business, and I thought, “Yeah. This is something we could do.” It made a lot of sense to me. Gas prices were high, and people were looking to entertain themselves at home.
So we created a business called Tallman Pools of Fort Smith. We started out in my garage with a truck, a couple of tools and $7000 in working capital, installing vinyl pools. Dan did all the pool construction, and I took care of the business end of things. Since Dan and I married sisters, you could say we had a lot in common and worked together pretty well.
Shortly after we started the business, we incorporated under the name Burton Construction. One year later, we had nearly tripled our numbers. By 1981, we had grown to the point where we needed a retail space. And by 1993, we had a second location. Today, we have 95 employees. Our business includes selling and installing vinyl liner pools, fiberglass pools and hot tubs, and retailing outdoor living fixtures, furniture, and equipment, including Big Green Egg grills. We also do weekly pool and spa maintenance, as well as all types of repair for vinyl liner, gunite and fiberglass pools.
Dan’s gone now. He passed away from cancer in 2010. But my son Caleb is my partner now. He’s co-owner of the business. He does all the marketing and social media, and I do a little bit of everything. Mostly, I look at ways we can go about getting new business and new markets we can get into. He’s really running the show these days, and that’s fine by me.
What geographic areas do you serve?
Our locations are in Springdale and Fort Smith, Arizona, but we serve cities and towns throughout Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.
What do you love about being in the pool business?
Oh man, I love how pools bring families together. Pools make things fun. They help you make memories and get you pictures you can hang on your fridge and share with your friends.
What Thursday Pools fiberglass pool designs and colors are the most popular among pool buyers in the areas you serve?
Like most dealers, our biggest seller is the Aspen. It’s just a homerun of a pool. It’s one of the best buys Thursday Pools has–it’s a great pool for the money. People love that huge tanning ledge.
In terms of shapes, for a while it seemed like everyone wanted freeforms and unusual pool shapes. Now, it seems like everyone is back to rectangles. They like straight, clean lines, in their pools, in their landscaping–in the whole project. They also like the fact that they’re automatic pool cover ready–people really want those because they help with pool maintenance and make them feel safe. As far as pool colors go, people are really liking the deeper colors, like dark blue.
What are the most popular add-on features in the fiberglass pools you’re installing right now?
It seems like people are getting back to basics on add-ons too. People always seem to want the sound of water in their pools, but they’re looking for simpler ways to get that, like deck jets instead of big waterfalls.
What do you think about Thursday Pools’ new beach entry designs?
In just a few weeks, we’ll be installing our first one–the freeform Sandal. These customers knew they wanted this pool before we could even order it, and they were willing to wait for it.
The beach entry pools have the potential to be a really big product for Thursday Pools. I think it’s exciting. And being able to offer something like that sets us apart from other pool builders. It’s great for older people and for pets, because they’re easy in and out.
What do you think about Thursday Pools’ new sunken living room designs?
Y’all need to settle down! I can’t keep up with all these new inventions! Seriously though, I can’t wait to see them.
What particular challenges do you face with fiberglass pool installations in your part of the country?
Oh, you name it, we deal with it. We have just about every kind of soil here–from rocky to almost quicksand. But we’ve been at this long enough to know what to expect in different areas. And fiberglass pools are great for different kinds of soil, even ones that move a lot.
What’s the cost of an average inground pool installation for you?
We decided years ago that we would price our pool installations the way we would want to buy them–to include what we would want to have if we were the customer. So we include things like a variable speed filter, cartridge filters and lighting. As far as concrete goes, we include 3’ around the pool and 6’ at one end, standard. We install vinyl, fiberglass, gunite, and even vinyl-lined concrete, but our average install across the board is about $60,000.
What trends have you seen emerge lately in the inground fiberglass pool industry?
Well, this isn’t just for fiberglass, but the thing that will change the game this year is smartphone controllers.
I believe we’ll soon be at a point where pool owners will be able to control every aspect of their pools–the lights, the pump, the automatic pool cleaner– all from their phones.
What have you noticed changing in pool buyers’ demographics over the years?
I basically see two segments of pool buyers–millennials and grandparents. We used to say our demographic was women, aged 39-55. Now, that range has increased both directions.
Grandparents want their homes to be the gathering place for the family. They want the family to come to them and spend some quality time. Pools help make that happen. Millennials want pools too, and they don’t want to wait for them. It used to be they couldn’t get financing. They had plenty of income but no equity. Now, with new loans, like the signature loans, they can get the financing they need. That’s great for our business.
What works for you in terms of marketing?
We do all kinds of marketing! Because we have a big retail aspect to our business, we need to. We run twelve different campaigns every year; every month we have something new. This weekend, we’re heading out to an outdoor living show, and we’re headlining it. We’re just going to kill it. We’re setting up a fiberglass pool and a spa so people can really experience them firsthand.
We’re also redoing our display yards and making them bigger. We’ll have fiberglass pool shells facing the highway. And Caleb does tons with our social media and website. We get a lot of leads from both of those.
What are your thoughts on Thursday Pools?
Thursday Pools makes a quality product that’s very easy to sell. They make the strongest fiberglass pools out there, and they have a great mix of shapes and sizes. They do a really good job of listening to what their customers and dealers want and incorporating those things into their designs and innovations.
They’re just good people too. I like the fact that they love what they do, and I like where they’re going. They build good relationships with people, and they take care of us.
What’s the secret to Burton Pools and Spas’ success?
Well, first and foremost, we’re a faith-based company. We have a sign on the wall with Psalm 127 on it. It says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”
We started out with next to nothing. We grew our business by noticing what people needed and providing it—like retail chemical sales and weekly pool maintenance. From there, we just kept adapting, changing and welcoming opportunities. Now, we’re winning awards. Pool and Spa magazine has named us one of the Top 50 Pool Companies for several years now. Aqua Magazine has also recognized us. We’ve won design and retail awards too. But when it comes to success, I always say we’re really not that smart. We’re just blessed beyond measure. The Lord has guided us.
For more information about Burton Pools and Spas, contact them here.
Thursday Pools designs and manufactures the world’s most durable and innovative fiberglass pool shells in Fortville, Indiana. We are ISO 9001 certified, which means that fiberglass pool shells are made with the highest standards and from the best quality material available. We are also ISO 14001 certified, which means we are committed to environmental stewardship.
Thursday Pools is proud to be the creators of the world’s first sunken living room fiberglass pool, which will be available for order in 2020. In 2019, our world’s first beach entry (or zero entry) fiberglass pools became available for order as well.
Get a free estimate on the fiberglass pool of your dreams today. With Thursday Pools, your weekend starts early!