Uncharted Territory

Industry grappling with highs and lows of coronavirus

2020 has been a wild ride, to say the least — an insane emotional rollercoaster. I was hearing about record sales months in January and February, then suddenly you are fighting to stay in business. But what an unexpected surprise to find that people stuck at home were interested in buying a hot tub. While “vacation at home” has long been an industry selling point, it actually came to fruition.

The industry now faces a different challenge: We are out of hot tubs. Manufacturers are pumping out spas as fast as they can, and dealers are selling them even faster. Wait times for new spas are into 2021. I’ve heard from several retailers that customers will call, hoping to get a hefty discount from their supposed struggling local business, only to find no deals to be had. We recently surveyed retailers about the state of their hot tub inventory (see the results).

We can all agree this beats the alternative, but it puts tremendous stress on businesses and suppliers. I’m guessing most reading this have been working 12- to 14-hour days for months navigating an influx of orders, complying with new safety mandates and juggling customer expectations and demands.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that things can change in an instant. I’m hoping you’ve become more efficient, embraced new ways of operating and selling and will continue to prepare for whatever comes next. So far in the pandemic we’ve seen an uptick in e-commerce, curbside pickup and mobile offices — changes retailers had to implement in a matter of days instead of months.

Additionally, our cover story about Power Women this issue has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Ironically, it was at the suggestion of a man — Doug Gillespie, vice president of sales and marketing at Hydropool — that I decided to go for it. It was so much fun to work on that we will do it again soon, so please send us the names of the power women you work with who didn’t get included.

There are so many amazing women in the hot tub industry, and while there are no hard statistics on the number of men versus women, our website and social media analytics show the split to be around 60% men and 30% women. As a woman who has spent the majority of her professional career in the hot tub industry, I can attest to the challenges they face. Although, for myself and for all the women we spoke to, the positives far outweigh the negatives. I hope you find their stories as fun and inspirational as I did.

Hang in there, everyone. As cases of coronavirus are surging in my state and many others, we are a long way from returning to normal. Try to find time to take care of yourselves and your employees (page 18) as we continue to face the stress of the unknown.

Megan Kendrick, publisher