There are two things Tom Epple wants you to know about Fort Wayne Pools®, Inc. The first is that the company has been manufacturing pools and substructure components for pools since 1972. The second is that this longevity in the industry has enabled Fort Wayne to become a premier supplier of residential swimming pool systems in the marketplace. In 1976 – the year Fort Wayne turned its attention solely to the manufacturing of swimming pools – “We were pioneers in the industry,” Epple proudly says.
Fort Wayne’s general manager of manufacturing with 20-plus-years experience in the business, Epple explains that Fort Wayne retains its leading position by moving forward on the foundation of its past. And this past contains a series of “firsts” in the swimming pool industry.
For starters, Fort Wayne engineered the first one-piece step for in-ground residential swimming pools. Prior, says Epple, “The entry step was made of steel covered with vinyl liner. We developed a one-piece step to construct with the wall system; it’s totally self-contained and actually is a part of the structure. Our product allows a one-piece installation. From a contractor’s point of view, inserting a complete step sidewalls is a simpler installation and continues to be today.”
In 1974, he continues, the company designed a non-corrosive substructure fiberglass system. Fort Wayne expanded the non-corrosive engineering further in 1976, and replaced fiberglass with structural polymer, an important feature in the company’s Elite pool line. “It revolutionized the swimming pool industry and created a simple building process from a time consuming process,” Epple maintains. “The ability to mold product – a corrugated plastic product six feet long by 42 inches high – in 1976 was basically unheard of.” Fort Wayne’s experimentation resulted in a boom for both builders and pool owners by creating a structural polymer panel with both strength and rigidity.
Stepping into new ground
Available only from Fort Wayne Pools, the acrylic/fiberglass stairs have set a new standard for in-ground pool stair systems. The stairs are vacuum-formed from a single piece of acrylic and then hand laid with multiple layers of fiberglass for unsurpassed structural support. The strength is built into the stair itself, rather than coming from an additional support system. The result is a stair so solid that it is the strongest, highest-quality step on the market. Fort Wayne also offers a unique line of color coordinated StoneTite™ acrylic/fiberglass steps. Created for long-term durability through the acrylic/fiberglass bonding process with colors designed to match their popular StoneTite collection of vinyl liner patterns, Fort Wayne Pools is committed to innovating products that have revolutionized the residential pool industry.
In addition, Fort Wayne offers the Durastep‘. Co-extruded and vacuum-formed from a single sheet of ABS-supported BASF Luran S ASA thermoplastic, Durastep is the thickest, heaviest and strongest weatherable polymer step in the industry.
In other structural areas, Fort Wayne has mastered the process of swimming pool construction. As a matter of fact, Fort Wayne Pools offers substructure components that are 100-percent company produced, including braces, walls, liners, coping, covers and steps. For example: The company’s 14-gauge, copper-bearing, made-in-the-USA steel panels are coated with a heavy zinc galvanization (G235) to prevent corrosion. Panels are constructed with an exclusive, high-tech “Tog-L-Lok” gusset system that preserves the zinc galvanization and makes its steel panel the most corrosion resistant in the industry.
To solve the problem of bulky pool-cover placement, Fort Wayne’s Leading Edge™ end cap coping completely encapsulates the end of the pool, allowing the cover to travel over the deep end pool wall and store in a self-containing lid assembly for a neat and clean appearance. Both box and lid are flush with the concrete deck for an attractive look.
In the area of aesthetics, Fort Wayne has developed a series of liners with designs to rival those of old-world frescoes. Included are The Renaissance Collection™ and The Stonehenge Collectiontm‘, both developed jointly by Fort Wayne Pools and Vernon Plastics. Each liner is crafted from patented DuraBlend™ vinyl, a special mix of high-tech polymers selected for their unique attributes and formulated for maximum strength, colorfastness and long-term durability. Each liner is specifically designed to coordinate with Edgelight™ and Accent™ fiber optic lighting and all liners resist fading and cracking as a result of sun, chemicals, age and temperature. Liners are backed by the company’s standard, 20-year limited prorated warranty with two-year full replacement for manufacturing defects plus a 10-year prorated warranty with five-year full replacement for inordinate material degradations. Customers can find these exclusive features on Fort Wayne’s premium pool systems that include:
• Sterling Pool – Constructed with steel walls that are the strongest in the industry.
• Elite Pool – The chief component of an Elite is its polymer walls, providing a rock-solid foundation.
Both Sterling Pools® and The Elite Pool® are available with two collections and 18 styles of vinyl liners that achieve the perfect balance between durability and ambiance; coping brings an element of style and uniform perfection to the pool shape and structure. From standard to high profile to fiber optic, elegant coping complements any number of design ideas and decking options. And all pools are integrated with Fort Wayne’s unique and durable features and come in an array of styles, such as lap pools, as well as configurations, such as rectangular, oval, kidney, round and octagon.
Getting out the word
Two manufacturing locations in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Charlotte, N.C. – having a combined size of 200,000 square feet – enable Fort Wayne to build the best and strongest pools in the industry. But this feat hardly would matter if the company could not get out the information, which is why Fort Wayne has put forth great effort to get its message across. It does this through a Web site – www.surfthepool.com – and through maintaining close contacts with customers and their needs.
Fort Wayne’s Web site gives prospective pool owners all the information they ever wanted about owning and maintaining a Fort Wayne pool, including a step-by-step guide that takes them through the entire pool construction process. Fort Wayne even offers a program that lets customers figure the monthly payments on their pool based on the amount financed, annual percentage rate and length of loan. Additionally, Fort Wayne gives consumers information about Fort Wayne dealers, which acts as a sales tool for the dealer who wants to expand his communication network to future pool owners.
Fort Wayne actually created the Web site as an additional sales tool for its dealers and has won numerous awards for this site, including Highest Honors at the American Advertising Federation Awards, a National Spa and Pool Institute Consumer Influence Award and an independent pool and spa industry IRNIE award.
In this way, Fort Wayne keeps its dealers informed and its sales professionals on their toes and listening for new ways to improve the product. “We really believe that over the years we’ve become a sales organization first,” says Epple. “We stay close to the customer, and keep our eyes and ears open and make programs around customer needs. That’s how you remain competitively edged.”