ULTRASTRONG CoverLift will come standard on most Strong Spas starting this year
By Michelle L. Cramer
Wade Spicer, president and CEO of Strong Industries, Inc., likens a hot tub’s hardcovers to the tires on a car. Strong Industries manufactures Strong Spas and the Titan HardCover. In 2016, the ULTRASTRONG CoverLift System will be built in to 90 percent of Strong Spas. “It’s an integral part of the hot tub, not an aftermarket accessory,” Spicer says. As he explains it, by pulling on the lever with as much force as you use to open a car door, the Titan HardCover easily slides to both sides of the tub.
Spicer says that, in the past, the soft cover was the obvious choice for a hot tub purchase, but within six months, the owner will no longer be able to easily move the cover. In an effort to solve this problem, the customer drills holes in his $10,000 acrylic hot tub and sits under a dripping, smelly soft cover wall. Spicer argues that, like buying the right tires for your car, hot tub owners will find the hardcover equivalent to the best tires on the market.
“When you buy a car, you never talk about the tires, but they’re probably the most important part,” Spicer says. “It doesn’t take long to start paying attention after you realize you have the wrong tires for your car. It’s the same with buying a hot tub.”
The new lifter system has reopened the market for Mike Young, owner of Young’s Hot Tub Sales and Service Center in Union City, Pa. Before its release, he lost sales with the previous lifter models because potential customers couldn’t open them or modify the hot tub’s surrounding area enough to make the lifter fit.
Opening covers from the side instead of the back allows them to fit tighter spaces, Young says. “And now with the ease of the hydraulics, I haven’t found anybody who couldn’t open them. Even people with severe arthritis and disabilities…open and close it with ease.”
A year and a half ago, Young carried models from both Strong and another manufacturer. His sales rep persuaded him to showcase extra Strong models at his annual sale, and he sold more tubs than ever. After the sale, Young had some left over Strong tubs that he put in his showroom. “Over the next six months, everybody was walking right past my old line of tubs and heading straight toward the hardcovers,” he says.
Three months later, he lowered the price of his old line and increased the price of the Strong spas, and it still took him three months to get the old line sold. Since then, he’s only offered Strong spas and has seen a 60 percent increase in sales revenue, going from 12 to 15 hot tubs in stock in a 2,500-square-foot facility to over 100 hot tubs in stock in two 5,000-square-foot facilities. Young also has exclusive sales rights to Strong models over a large region, so cus- tomers drive up to three hours to buy from him. “They pass half a dozen pool and spa places, and still shop with us because of our service, quality and the product we provide that no one else can get their hands on,” he says.
The hardcover and new lifter system both came out of necessity, Spicer says. The 2016 product line is the most refined Strong has ever had, he says, adding that it was in the works for years. “All the way from our entry-level rotomold spas to our highest-end and premium series acrylics, we now have cover systems that will operate with the ease of pulling a lever.”
If a consumer won’t spend the extra 15 percent for a hardcover upgrade, the new Ultra Strong lifter system also works with soft covers. This year, most of its spas come with an optional soft cover with a system identical to the hardcover system, built into the spa where the soft cover will come right to the ground, Spice says. He believes this will help its soft covers last longer.
After what Spicer calls a homerun with the ULTRASTRONG lifter, Strong Industries has even more in the works. “We continue to make advancements in a lot of technology that we put into the hot tubs, from the entry level to high-end acrylics,” he says. “We do have more advanced stuff coming between 2017 and 2018. We’re working on the next evolution, even though it’s perfect now.”