Commercial pool service company zeroes in on automation
Poolsure is a Houston-based, family-owned company modernizing pool maintenance for commercial pools through chemical automation.
Poolsure is part of The Aquasol Companies, which started with Aquasol Controllers in 1975. It designed one of the first pool chemical controllers, which it still manufactures today and is ever-evolving with the latest advances. In 2015, the company acquired a business called Purify, which delivers chemicals to drinking water treatment and wastewater drinking facilities, and now boasts over 100 GPS-tracked tankers and service vehicles. The following year, Poolsure built an in-house technician team to tackle general pool repairs. In 1995, the company started delivering chemicals, seeing a need in the commercial sector for well-balanced pools. Alan Falik, company president and owner, says the commercial pool space remains underserved.
“Commercial pool operators are usually doing a lot more than just taking care of the pool,” says Falik, who came to the industry in 2009 from investment banking. “They have so many other things to worry about. The pool industry has a rep as an old-school, hardworking industry, but introducing technology and thus gaining efficiencies continues to be a lot of fun.”
Chemical delivery, chemical automation, training and repair services for commercial properties with pools, spas and other water features
In addition to installing, monitoring and manufacturing chemical feed equipment and monitoring systems, Poolsure offers chemical delivery services in mini-bulk — an industry term for 100 to 2,000 gallons of a chemical — plus pool repairs and training for pool operators and maintenance staff in its growing number of service areas. It has 13 locations across Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, with a Phoenix-area location estimated to be fully operating by this fall.
Kevin Boyer, Poolsure’s chief operating officer, has been with the company for 25 years and says there have been many hurdles in growing the business, which has ballooned from 50 employees in 2009 to about 150 today. Chief among the challenges: delivering liquid chemicals safely to clients — everywhere from hotels and YMCAs to apartment complexes and water parks.
“Delivering 5,000 gallons in one spot is one thing — but 500 gallons [to one location] and then 100 gallons down the road, economically and safely, is the biggest challenge,” Boyer says. The first step in Poolsure’s evolution, he says, was figuring out how to build trucks capable of being safe and efficient hazmat carriers. There were several iterations, failures and leaks until the company nailed it in the mid 2000s. At the time, Poolsure was the only company attempting this service in the southern and Southeast United States, so visits to companies in the Northeast were essential along the way.
“We drew from their experiences,” Boyer says. “We looked to the full-size tanker industry, too, and made a smaller version of those trucks, outfitting them with proprietary technology.”
Logistics proved another formidable opponent. Because there is not static demand at a pool for chemicals, Boyer says, Poolsure had to figure out an efficient but effective way to route its trucks. Demand also varies with environmental conditions and the number of people using the pool weekly. Poolsure provides bleach tanks at installation, which can be installed with a sensor that detects chemical levels remaining in the tank. Poolsure will arrive on site to refill the tanks once the sensor detects low chemical levels remaining, which means chemicals neither run out nor arrive too frequently.
Poolsure also offers training on its technologies for pool operators and maintenance staff in its service area, including certified CPO trainers.
Falik says a large portion of its employees already worked from home before COVID, so instead of having to regroup and maintain productivity outside an office environment, it turned its attention to implementing new technology for remote video diagnostics and training. “Utilizing video conferencing seems to work great to get people trained without needing to be face-to-face,” he says. “People want to learn, and if you challenge people and give them proper resources, they can become experts at their craft.”
Still, COVID-led supply shortages and the Texas freeze created several obstacles. Falik credits Poolsure’s “great supplier network” with sourcing materials from different parts of the country and world to make sure customers were minimally impacted by now-infamous shortages. Further, Boyer says he’s grateful there was no transmission of COVID-19 inside the company, owing it to the whole Aquasol team’s focus on masking and additional sanitation measures in company trucks.
Tight safety requirements are always top of mind at Poolsure, and Boyer says the industry at large has a tendency to get “too comfortable” with chemicals. Poolsure was guilty of this for a time, too, Boyer says, but in the late 2000s, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association introduced new rules that the company used as a turning point. “Today, not only do we lead the pool industry, but we lead the tanker industry in safety,” he says, adding that Poolsure has received safety awards from National Tank Truck Carriers. “For a pool company, I’m extremely proud of that.”
Falik echoes the view that safety is one of Poolsure’s most important principles: “Our drivers are dealing with hazardous chemicals,” he says, “and there’s nothing more important to us than them coming home safely.”
Poolsure has a new app in the works, called Poolsure Mobile, for which internal testing began mid-May. The app brings together pool information, chemistry recommendations, recently measured chemistry levels, controller feed alerts and more to help users see at a glance if there’s anything going on with the pool as a service professional completes their checklist.
“[It’s] primarily like a pool log, which is something most pool operators or maintenance staff keep on paper,” says Diana Yan, marketing manager. The app also pulls data from Poolsure’s system to show real-time pool alert status and chemical levels, calculating how much chemical needs to be added to make the water safe for swimmers. “Poolsure Mobile will be an essential component of the fully integrated pool management technology package that we envision for our customers,” Yan adds.
Since 2009, Poolsure has expanded to north and south Texas, Tampa, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Falik says he is proud of the way the team and the company as a whole have flourished. “We’ve grown like crazy over the past five, six, seven years,” he says, “and it’s been fun to take a small company and reposition it to offer such a needed service.”