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For Canada-based Arctic Spas, it’s an arena they have perfected and become experts in over the years, as the spa manufacturer is viewed today as the “Mercedes-Benz” of the home leisure and hydrotherapy world, offering some of the most innovative and customized hot tubs and related products across the global market. Jody Gamracy, marketing manager for the company, sits down to talk about the factors behind Arctic Spas’ current position of success, and why he feels they are set up to continue to do so for many years to come. Steve Engelhardt reports.
In 1994 a group of recent college graduates from northern Canada got together and, having developed a higher appreciation for staying warm due to the surrounding climate, decided to found a business based off their experiences in such and enter into the local hot tub industry. That was 21 years ago, and what started with a small shop and a name–Arctic Spas–has now grown into a company that stands today as a top ten manufacturer of hot tubs in the world (number one in Canada) with a far-reaching reputation for quality and innovation.
“We never set out as a company to become the biggest manufacturer in the world, we just saw a niche need and provided an unmatched solution to it, and that focus has taken us a long way in our overall success,” says Gamracy. And he’s right, as Arctic Spas intentionally doesn’t offer the cheapest hot tub, but rather cutting edge models along with a number of additional add-ons that truly provide for the ultimate hot tub experience.
Getting into specifics, the company offers twelve different models under the Arctic Spas brand, with the smallest–the Arctic Fox–featuring up to 38 jets and room for three, while their largest—the Arctic Ocean—can fit as many as 14 individuals with up to 61 jets. Beyond their hot tubs, the Arctic Spas brand offers eight different models of swim spas, seven different types of gazebos, and two grillhouse models to the market, effectively covering any individual’s outdoor leisure needs.
Gamracy says that when determining the source of the Arctic Spas brand success, he zeroes in on three factors that ultimately set them apart from any other hot tub manufacturer: energy efficiency, durability, and system innovation. “When people think about buying a hot tub, a common worry is the belief that running a hot tub year round will cost a lot of money to keep up, particularly in colder areas,” he says, adding, “And while that’s a very real issue for many of the hot tubs available in the market, with the Arctic Spas design it greatly reduces the amount of heat and electricity needed to keep the water warm and clean, which goes a long way for our customers because these things really last for a long time.” This leads to the next advantage of purchasing an Arctic Spas hot tub over others: durability.
Given that hot tubs are largely based outside and subject to the elements of the four seasons in many areas, the need for a strong and durable product is a huge benefit. “Many of our customers live in places where there is extreme weather and rapid changes in climate, which can be very hard on a hot tub’s external materials,” he says, continuing, “However, the Arctic Spas brand is engineered and designed to defend against just that, as we build our products to last not just for a few seasons, but rather 20, 30, or 40 seasons.” Gamracy adds that a true testament to their products’ durability is the fact that, upon refurbishing, they will typically resell many used hot tubs to the aftermarket because they are often still in very good condition even after extended use.
The third defining aspect of Arctic Spas’ products is their steadfast commitment to incorporating the latest technology into their overall design. “We have always made a formal effort to design and develop cutting-edge technology within our products.” In fact, the company’s latest progression takes their spas’ experience to a whole new level, as Gamracy says many of their new hot tubs are now wired into the Internet of Things (IoT), where Arctic Spas’ products can now sync custom technology with their home networks to deliver up-to-date reports and maintenance notices to the customers no matter where they are.
“Many people have their hot tubs at a vacation home like a lake house or cottage, where they often won’t be at for a majority of the year,” he says, adding, “With our technology, they can download the Arctic Spas app onto their phones, where they can effectively monitor their hot tubs for any abnormalities that they otherwise wouldn’t have been aware of until they actually travelled to the location.”
Beyond allowing users to track their hot tubs, Arctic Spas takes it a step further and has a fulltime service team that proactively monitors all of the company’s hot tubs for any errors or irregularities via sensors installed within them that send out regular reports on water temperature and energy usage. “It’s an extremely beneficial service for our customers to have, in fact I remember one time we reached out to a customer whose hot tub had been running at full heat for nearly 48 hours straight, which was quite unexpected,” says Gamracy, adding, “So we reached out and notified him of the matter and when he drove up to his cottage where the hot tub was, sure enough its cover had blown off and the system was rapidly compensating for its exposed position with added heat—a factor that could have cost him quite a bit of money had it continued on for some time.”
Adding to this ‘eye in the sky’ type of service that Arctic Spas brings to their customers, is the company’s recently released Spa Boy water maintenance system. Integrated into the actual spa, the Spa Boy monitors the most important water maintenance factors—pH and sanitizer level—automatically every few seconds by using medical grade sensors. “The results are transmitted to the spa control center and displayed in an easy to read format on the spa topside, app, and users’ Arctic Spa web portal,” says Gamracy, adding, “On top of that, Spa Boy integrates with the Onzen salt water system to automatically adjust the sanitizer level, which means no more test strips, manual dosing, or adjustment of sanitizer levels.” The result of this new feature? A spa that is consistently filled with clear, safe water that ultimately requires minimum effort.
All of Arctic Spas’ products are manufactured under its parent company, Blue Falls Manufacturing, in Thorsby, Alberta (Canada). “We operate our production in a small, rural town whose workforce and overall identity really speaks to the kind of high-quality, dedicated efforts we put into making each and every one of our hot tubs and related products.”
For Arctic Spas, it’s a company that despite never setting out to be biggest in what it does, it has certainly become the best.