Hot tub suppliers are expanding to make room for continued growth
By Megan Kendrick
While 2019 hot tub industry growth was small or held steady at 2018 numbers, many manufacturers have found themselves in need of more manufacturing space.
In the last two years, several manufacturers added to existing facilities, remodeled, built or are building, or moved into new spaces. We’ve covered some of these expansions in past issues; this time we’re looking at the growth of Marquis, Bullfrog Spas and Hydropool Hot Tubs.
When Marquis started manufacturing its swim spas in 2014, the move maxed out the company’s factory floor. It leased some buildings close by to house part of its swim spa production, adding around 20,000 square feet, but things were still pretty tight in its 100,000-square-foot main building, which housed its corporate offices as well as hot tub manufacturing. Over the last year, the company added two more buildings in the leased space, gaining another 15,000 square feet.
“We moved mold storage, parts and we moved R&D and then we created and expanded the swim spa production,” says Jim Johnston, vice president of marketing for Marquis, of the most recent addition.
At its February dealer conference, the company unveiled the reorganization of its production line in its main factory as a result of the expansion. The space where parts previously had been now allows for better flow and efficiencies in its hot tub manufacturing line and easier water testing.
“We’re looking at a pretty realistic expectation for our efficiency to improve about 15% in the cost of making things and moving things around,” Johnston says. “Our capacity is going to expand about 15% as well. That’s without us going to additional shifts or flex shifting.”
Additional improvements are planned over the next year, including turning a mezzanine level of the main factory into a new employee lunch and break room. “[For] the footprint on the main building, we’re maxed out in terms of how many things we can do there,” Johnston says. “We have to go up.”
As orders have started rolling in from the company’s aforementioned dealer conference, Johnston says the manufacturing expansion and changes are already starting to pay off.
“We are in a very solid place and looking forward to some good opportunities to move the ball forward on product, design and the consumer experience with hot tubs,” he says. “We just know we’re there. It should be a solid couple of years for us coming to the next level of fruition.”
At the end of February, Bullfrog Spas began moving into its new world headquarters, going from an 80,000-square-foot building that housed its offices and manufacturing to an additional 265,000-square-foot building. The total footprint for the company is now 345,000 square feet.
“We’re really excited about what this means for our future, our employees and the community around us as we anchor a new innovation district in the town of Herriman on the south end of the Salt Lake Metro area,” says Jake Ricks, marketing manager for Bullfrog. Ricks says excitement was high as they moved into the new space, with people commenting that it felt like they were starting a whole new job.
The company had outgrown both the office and manufacturing space of its previous building. Sean McKinney, former director of manufacturing at the company and now director of supply chain and facilities, oversaw the development of the new space.
“I’ve got a fantastic team of wonderful supervisors,” McKinney says. “They’re the ones who designed their workflow, and I’m just the orchestrator to put it all together. Our facilities manager is doing a fantastic job of managing the project.”
McKinney has a long history of building spa plants in the industry, doing it three times previously for other manufacturers.
“The new line is going to be conceptually very close to our current line, except it’ll be much more linear,” McKinney says. “In other words, I make many turns in this small footprint I have now. [In the new space] I’ll make two turns because we’re going to go the length of the building for a lot of the manufacturing process, which will help us in our lean journey to optimize some of the handling and transportation.”
Ricks says Bullfrog decided to keep its original building for a specific purpose. “It’s going to be an innovation testing facility where we can manufacture prototypes,” Ricks says. “That’s big for us and something that, when you’re out of space, you don’t always have a lot of room for. That facility will likely become pretty important to our innovation processes.”
It’s no secret that Bullfrog has been investigating adding swim spas to its offerings, and Ricks says that played a small part in their decision to build a bigger building. The bulk of the decision, however, was simply a need for more room.
“We need the facilities for our management side of the business that keeps growing and for all of the other parts of this business that keep growing,” Ricks says.
In addition to building a factory that is more efficient to manufacture hot tubs in, McKinney says they also wanted a space that was more accommodating to employees. The new building includes a gym, air-conditioned break room and better parking.
“That’s what’s great about Bullfrog is that they care so much about the employees and the teams that we make decisions based on them, where it’s not looking at the bottom line,” McKinney says. “It’s our philosophy to invest in our teams and make it as comfortable and as hospitable as possible because we spend so much time here.”
Hydropool Hot Tubs
Hydropool Hot Tubs was an early adopter of swim spas, manufacturing its first in 1995. When Jacuzzi purchased the Canadian company in 2017, it began adding more swim spa lines, including the North American release of Jacuzzi Swim Spas this year. With the increased production, the company knew it was time for a factory overhaul.
“We always had two factories, but we would pull [the swim spa shells] in the hot tub factory next door, then we’d bring it to the plant where everything else would happen to the swim spa,” says Tracy Hall, vice president of global swim spas for the company.
In early January, Hydropool closed the swim spa factory to retool it, bringing a new vacuum former to the swim spa building and reorganizing the lines to be more efficient. In addition to Hydropool and Jacuzzi swim spas, the company also manufactures SwimLife and Thermospas branded swim spas out of this facility.
“We’re really state of the art [with] everything in the factory, so it’s going to have all the different lines and all the different swim spa brands going down there,” Hall says. “It’s going to be pretty cool what they’re doing. It’s going to look fantastic. It’s only going to be the swim spa plant, and the hot tub plant will only be hot tubs.”
More Room to Grow
These suppliers have also revamped or expanded their facilities (not necessarily a complete list)
New warehouse for distribution and shipping opened March 2019
New swim spa manufacturing facility opened May 2019
Nordic Hot Tubs
Revamped its break room