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 Tabby Bratt, co-owner of Akins Excavating in Middlebury, Indiana.
Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
We’re family owned. We started out solely as an excavating business in 1998. My parents owned it first, and my husband, Justin, and I took it over in 2006. We started doing pools about ten years ago, and it’s now about one-third of our business.
What geographic areas do you serve?
We serve most of northern Indiana and parts of southern Michigan, so our customers are based in and around Goshen, Elkhart, South Bend, Wawasee, Warsaw, Laporte and Syracuse, Indiana as well as Three Rivers and Niles, Michigan.
What do you love about being in the pool business?
Since we also do excavating, the pool end of our business is the fun side! While excavating is something people need, pools are something our customers really want! Plus, it’s nice to get to see the finished project. We know how much fun people will have in their pools with their families. Since family is so important to us, that means a lot.
What fiberglass pool designs and colors are the most popular among pool buyers in the central Indiana area?
Our top seller is the Aspen. Our customers love it for the shape, the fact that it’s auto-cover ready and the built-in tanning ledges. I think families love it because the kids can play on the shallow tanning ledge while the adults swim and visit. There’s a spot for everybody.
As far pool colors go, Maya and California are for sure our most popular. I’d say 80% of the pools we sell are Aspens in the Maya finish.
What are the most popular add-on features in the fiberglass pools you’re installing right now?
We sell lots of slides and games, like basketball goals. Almost all of our customers choose an automatic pool safety cover. And people really like salt water systems–I’d say about 90 percent of our customers are choosing salt water systems.
What do you think about Thursday Pools’ new beach entry designs?
We’ve had several customers ask about the new beach entry designs, Grace and Sandal. Personally, I would like it! I’m interested to learn more about how they work with automatic pools covers, but I think they’re going to be very cool.
What particular challenges do you face with fiberglass pool installations in your part of Indiana?
Well, we have a lot of sandy soil here–not a lot of clay or bedrock–so that makes things easier. Probably our biggest challenge is the fact that we serve some fairly rural and heavily wooded areas, especially as we get into Michigan. So we sometimes face a challenge of getting into sites, past trees, or getting our backfill materials in.
What’s the cost of an average pool installation for you?
Our average fiberglass pool installation is around $60,000. That will include excavation, 4 feet of concrete, plumbing, wiring, pump, heater, lights, typically a salt system and an automatic pool safety cover.
What trends have you seen emerge lately in the inground fiberglass pool industry?
Some of the best trends in the fiberglass pool industry have come from Thursday Pools! Their Backfill Eliminator® is amazing. We use it on every pool with a tanning ledge that we install. It’s a major time saver (and a major back saver!) The tanning ledges themselves are huge. I don’t see those going away anytime soon.
I also feel like the structural integrity of fiberglass pools has improved over the years. And for sure, Thursday Pools’ fiberglass pools are about the strongest we’ve seen.
What have you noticed changing in pool buyers’ demographics over the years?
Our pool buyers are all over the place in terms of demographics. Most of our customers are in their 40s, with kids in middle school, who are investing in their homes and creating something for their families that will last a lifetime. But we also see grandparents adding pools to their homes, even if they’ve downsized, to give the grandkids something fun to do when they visit.
What works for you in terms of marketing?
We just basically don’t market. We’re currently booked through 2019. We used to do the home shows, but we don’t even do that anymore. Our business comes from word-of-mouth. And through the excavation end of our business, we work with a lot of home builders who refer people to us.
What are your thoughts on Thursday Pools?
Thursday Pools is a great company that makes a great product. They’re business savvy, and they’re great communicators. They deliver every time. They do what they say they’re going to do. I just think they’re the best we’ve worked with.
What else would you like to see from Thursday Pools in terms of dealer support?
Honestly, I can’t think of anything. Anytime we need them, they’re there. I would say just keep doing what they’re doing.
What’s the secret to Akin’s Excavating success?
Our world revolves around our family, our church and our community. We have two kids, and we want to teach them about hard work and caring for others. So, we just try to lead by example and do the right thing for our customers.
Akins Excavating has served northern Indiana and southern Michigan for over 30 years. They offer excavation services for residential and commercial customers as well as septic system hook-ups and full-service fiberglass pool installation. They serve much of Elkhart County, Kosciusko County and Saint Joseph County in Indiana as well as Berrien and Cass Counties in Michigan.
Thursday Pools designs and manufactures the world’s most durable and elegantly crafted fiberglass pools. 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.
Our one-piece, inground fiberglass swimming pool manufacturing facility is based out of Fortville, Indiana. At Thursday Pools, we aspire to be the world’s most respected fiberglass pool manufacturer and to help our customers create a lifetime of memories with their family and friends. Our innovations, commitment to quality and beautiful designs set us apart. Thursday Pools is the creator of the world’s first beach entry (or zero entry) fiberglass pool. Get a free estimate on the fiberglass pool of your dreams today. With Thursday Pools, your weekend starts early!