Jeff Neamand, president of AquaSun Pools, has been in the industry for more than 20 years. Neamand and his team at AquaSun are best known for building, renovating and servicing high-end custom pools in the greater Philadelphia area. The dedication to customer satisfaction and being meticulous in all they do has awarded AquaSun continual growth year over year.
Upgrading legacy pool automation has become an exciting new business opportunity for service companies such as AquaSun looking to increase their bottom line. Historically, a customer would not be interested in an automation upgrade until there became an unrepairable problem with their current system. However, with The Attendant powered by Poolside Tech, modern technology that delights both homeowners and pool professionals alike has hit the market and AquaSun exponentially increased its automation installs by offering this upgrade.
The Attendant offers a mobile-first experience that speaks to the simplicity that a pool owner expects when controlling their oasis is a differentiator when it comes to usability. With the flexibility of being compatible with all equipment from existing manufacturers in the industry, there is strong buy-in for pool professionals like Neamand.
We sat down with Neamand to understand more about this shift in his business model.
Q: This year (2021), you installed a record number of pool automation systems in the first three months of the pool season compared to all of 2020. Jeff, to what do you attribute this sudden increase in demand?
A: Personally, I don’t believe that there’s been a significant change in demand for automation solutions from my clients. The interest has been there for years. Each year a large portion of my customers reached out to me to discuss their automation options.
Unfortunately, when I explained and even demonstrated existing products on the market, my clients were left underwhelmed. Most pool owners have been exposed to polished home automation products like smart thermostats and lighting controls. There is an expectation of quality, design and reliability of execution that simply wasn’t available from existing systems. More experienced pool owners quickly realized that the “smarts” of existing systems are at best equivalent to a timer and remote control. It’s very difficult to justify the significant investment in pool automation for a homeowner when the capabilities are so limited.
Q: It sounds like you weren’t very enthusiastic about installing pool automation systems. What changed?
A: I’ve always been enthusiastic about pool automation, however it fell short of the modern conveniences that my customers have come to expect. In February 2021, I was introduced to the team at Poolside Tech. They’re a group of technology entrepreneurs with decades of experience building connected devices, who also happen to be pool geeks like myself. I learned about the new pool automation system they were bringing to market, The Attendant. At first, I was skeptical, as there have been a number of companies trying to bring similar solutions to market before. Despite my skepticism, I decided to try The Attendant in my own personal pool, as this was the first truly new product in the space in a number of years. To my surprise, the system performed better than I expected. I was impressed with the thoughtful design of the app, it’s truly innovative smart features, but most of all, just how much better The Attendant nailed the basics like staying online.
Q: Seems as though you’ve had issues with the performance of other automation systems. How was your experience different with The Attendant?
A: For my company, the biggest challenge with existing automation solutions has been their lack of reliability. Customers expect automation to babysit their pools, yet I’d frequently find myself babysitting the automation. Throughout the years, we’ve always struggled with pool automation systems that failed to stay connected to Wi-Fi. Random lockups and other software failures are so common that you almost come to expect them. All the time spent troubleshooting these types of problems, the constant need to visit the customer’s pad to fix things or educate my clients would outweigh any benefits for me as the pool pro…and caused frustration for my customer.
With The Attendant, one of the biggest revelations was the fact that the system worked seamlessly post-installation. The application is not only reliable but it’s built with the pool professional in mind. The Attendant has all the tools I need to help my clients without ever visiting sites, and the team at Poolside Tech is constantly adding new pool pro-friendly features that keep improving the experience. In fact, my team has come to rely on the alerting we receive from The Attendant in the field to get ahead of problems. Something as simple as test-firing a heater during the week ahead of a customer arriving at their shore house on the weekend has saved my crew countless emergency visits.
Customers expect automation to babysit their pools, yet I’d frequently find myself babysitting the automation.
Jeff Neamand, president, AquaSun Pools
Q: When it comes to installing The Attendant on a pad with an existing legacy automation system in place, what is the level of difficulty for you and your team?
A: These retrofit situations are quite straightforward with the implementation of The Attendant. The time to upgrade is minimal, taking my team only a few hours to complete, including homeowner training. One large benefit is that the system doesn’t require an outside electrician in most cases, which means that my team can complete the upgrade without needing to work around someone else’s schedule. As a business owner, I appreciate this, as an electrician’s hourly rate is costly and cuts into job profit margin.
Another important benefit is the compatibility with all the major types of equipment in the marketplace. The Attendant automatically discovers the equipment on the pad and has an easy-to-use Configuration Wizard, which adds to the simplicity of the install. On top of that, the Visual Flow Editor ensures that no matter the plumbing design, we can configure more complicated scenarios to work seamlessly. This configuration tool was truly built for pool professionals and doesn’t lock you into legacy hard-coded configurations.