Core Covers: No More EPS Foam

Core Covers using drop-stitch fabric panels with its new Vertex Safety Cover

In fall 2015, Core Covers secured a patent for a new design the company believes will revolutionize the cover segment of the hot tub industry. The Vertex Safety Cover, made with air-inflated drop-stitch fabric panels instead of EPS foam, is set for release in summer 2016 for OEM clients, and in 2017 for dealers.
Core Covers isn’t new to this innovation game. President and founder Robert Ghelerter. Ghelerter went to Berkeley for chemical engineering, had a two-year apprenticeship in a Japanese wood-working studio and traveled extensively in South America. Eventually, Ghelerter returned to Berkeley, where he began making redwood hot tubs for fun in the 1970s. In 1979, he started Robert’s Hot Tubs, which still exists, making wooden hot tubs and ofouros (Japanese soaking tubs) for a worldwide clientele.

In 2002, responding to the frustration of inadequate sources for hot tub covers, Ghelerter moved to Tijuana, Mexico, and opened Robert’s Enterprises, which is branded as Core Covers. Ghelerter and Jerry Greer met in 2005 and, in 2012, Greer came on as the Core Covers CEO. “It’s been a great partnership,” Greer says. “I respect and admire him, and he supports me leading the direction of the company.”

Core Covers’ current pièce-de-résistance is the Vertex Safety Cover. To make the drop-stitch material two fabric layers are connected by threads, leaving an even space between them. Hundreds of threads per square inch make the panels incredibly durable and rigid. Core then cuts the panels to size and a banding material is welded onto the drop stitch. It’s put inside a sewn cover case, replacing the commonly used EPS foam.

The Vertex Safety Cover is impervious to moisture and can last for 10 years or more, which is twice as long as a traditional cover, Greer says. “Whitewater rafts, kayaks, emergency flood barriers, Zodiac style boats — all use this [drop-stitch] material because of its ability to withstand extremes,” he explains. “Even if the Vertex Safety Cover is damaged, it can be repaired. Also, Vertex can withstand extreme weight exceeding 1,500 pounds. No more snow load issues for covers.”

Core wants to be on the solution side of growing environmental concerns as well, and the Vertex design is part of that. First, it saves energy. Greer says that, because it won’t take on water, the insulation factor does not fade like traditional covers. Core has also patented the use of argon gas and other additives to further increase heat retention.

The Vertex’s drop-stitch design also makes it greener by eliminating EPS foam. “Go to any beach in the world and EPS foam is floating up on the beach,” Greer says. “New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and many others have banned EPS in products because of the environmental impact.”

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The Vertex cover can ship UPS with 500 units per truck, versus the usual 132 units, which Greer says is a significant savings in shipping costs. There is also a smaller warehousing footprint, less handling costs and no more freight damage.

While the Vertex will cost more upfront than a traditional foam hot tub cover (a projected MSRP of $599), Greer says that the fact that it will last longer, is more efficient and is repairable makes it worth the purchase price. “This will be a game changer and not easily duplicated,” says Jeff Black, vice president of California Home Spas & Patio in Long Beach, California (a dealer since the formation of Core Covers). “Anyone can cut foam, but very few can work with this new material.”

Investing in technology is a primary strategy for the company’s development; Core is expanding into industries like patio cushions and shade products like umbrellas and canopies. Greer reports that, in the last three years, Core has more than doubled in units and dollars.

“Core makes the best quality covers in the industry,” Black says. “They ship on time and never have a return for making the wrong cover.”

Greer says the only foreseeable negative to the Vertex Safety Cover is that the product is so good, the replacement cycle will reduce and eventually less covers will be sold each year. “But we believe that’s a good thing for the consumer and the environment,” he says.