Illumination adds convenience, customizable features
Trying to change the hot tub cover is challenging. Jerry Greer, CEO at Core Covers, says it’s difficul
t to sell a higher-priced cover to consumers, even if it is lighter, safer or stronger.
“There are a lot of things on a hot tub cover that are difficult to change without major cost impact,” he says. “That constrains your opportunities for innovation. The idea that you could add $70 [to the cost of a cover for a feature] — the [original equipment manufacturers] hate the idea of adding cost for something that’s difficult for them to communicate a value.”
Over the years, Core has introduced high-tech fabrics for hot tub covers and drop-stitch inserts that remove the need for EPS foam. Now it is turning its
sights to the cover clip. “These plastic clips have been the same for the last 30 years,” Greer says. “Let’s
at least update them aesthetically and improve the quality through design.”
The company’s original idea for a clip improvement, a ratchet system, ended up being too expensive. “The ratchet clip required a more expensive type of plastic and a much bigger shot [of plastic], as they call it,” Greer says.
Greer was visiting a hot tub OEM when the idea for an illuminated clip came to him. “They were up
dating their [backlit light badge of its logo embedded] on the hot tub, and it was expensive,” he says. “And that’s when I thought, ‘OK, you could maybe put this into a clip.’ We did some footwork with an industrial design firm and figured out it could be done modestly and easily.”
At the 2019 International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo in New Orleans, Core plans to unveil illuminated, branded clips that connect to the hot tub’s control panel through Bluetooth.
Greer says a growing number of OEMs are using the backlit light badges on the spa cabinets to communicate some kind of functionality, and now the clip can do the same: The clip may glow green when it’s reached a certain temperature or red if it needs service. “By having a light integrated into the clip, you can communicate whatever those messages are to the homeowner,” he says.
Greer says reception to the new clips has been positive because it’s a tangible product enhancement. “You have multiple benefits,” Greer says. “You have a logo that’s illuminated so you
have brand identification on the hot tub. You don’t have to carve out your cabinet.” It also eliminates the need to poke around in the dark trying to locate clips at night and offers flexibility in terms of what to communicate with these lights. “For OEMs,” Greer says, “it gives them a small new canvas to get creative.”
As sales of new tubs with lighted clips grow during the next several years, the hope is that it will eventually drive customers back to the dealer for a replacement. “Any of the covers that have a brand identifier on them absolutely grows their aftermarket sales,” Greer says.
As Core continues to look for ways to improve hot tub covers, Greer is pleased where this innovation landed. “It’s a small but good idea,” Greer says. “A good base hit.”