Leveraging Bobcat equipment to keep businesses afloat
Since 2007, the economy in many parts of the United States has not been kind to firms in the swimming pool installation business
The industry, for the most part, followed housing construction and home sales into troubled waters. In some states it’s estimated that perhaps up to half of the pool builders closed their doors in the past six years.
There are exceptions, of course. In the Dallas, Texas, area, Gold Medal Pools and Outdoor Living kept busy. “Our economy is unique,” says owner Steve Sandler. “It never went down as much as in the rest of the country.”
It certainly took a nosedive in Florida, but pool builder Vitali Bederak says he wasn’t significantly affected. “That’s because I had almost no overhead, did much of the work myself and purchased equipment that was reliable, productive and efficient.”
Veteran pool installer
Steve Sandler (center) and his sons, Josh (right, vice president of operations) and Cody (left, project manager), work at the family business. Not pictured: Josh’s wife, Mary (salesperson and designer), and Steve’s wife, Shelly, both work in the office.
When Sandler moved to Texas almost four decades ago, he was impressed by the wide open landscape that characterized the state. At the time, he believed there was plenty of opportunity in the swimming pool business because of the economic growth and climate that meant year-round installation. Over the years, the amount of accessible space declined while his company prospered.
“People have the perception that Texas is still wide open — and some places are. However, access to residential properties in metro areas has become more difficult,” he says. “At one time, builders included alleyways in their developments and we could enter from either the front or the rear. Those days are over. In fact, many of the houses where we work are large, and what is available for access can be 8 feet or less. Oftentimes, we are limited by the type of equipment we can use to build a pool.”
Typically, space restrictions dictate that his company brings in machines from its fleet of compact equipment.
“We’re in good shape when that occurs. We have the best in the business,” says Sandler, referring to his Bobcat® equipment: four skid-steer loaders, including two S650s; two T770 compact track loaders; and a pair of excavators, including an E50. All were purchased from Bobcat of Dallas.
Sandler has been in the pool business for 44 years, initially working with a family member in the Northeast before relocating to Texas to start his own company. Gold Medal Pools is headquartered just north of Dallas in Frisco, one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.
Sandler reports that his company uses Bobcat equipment and attachments on every Gunite® pool installation. The choice of loaders often depends on the surface around the jobsite and the weather conditions. The rubber-track machines minimize damage to established yards, especially when the ground is muddy. In addition to hauling out spoil and bringing in stone and other materials, the loaders do the finishing work around the pools — backfilling, grading and final grading. Bobcat excavators dig the pool site when larger equipment doesn’t fit.
“I like the E50 for contouring and trimming the sidewalls,” Sandler says.
An owner of Bobcat products for 40 years, Sandler says he wouldn’t want to be without his loaders and excavators.
Reliable equipment equals success
Vitali Bederak spends less time repositioning his Bobcat E35 excavator on pool construction sites because of the excavator’s extendable-arm option, with more reach and dig depth.
Vitali Bederak came to the United States in 1998, a tireless worker with a variety of skills — electrician, plumber, carpenter — who survived the economic ups and downs in his native Ukraine and in Israel where he lived for a time.
Five years later that work ethic became a valuable asset when he started Pools by Vitali, a Port Saint Lucie, Fla., company that has done well building swimming pools along Florida’s east coast. Challenged to find employees with as strong a work ethic as his, Vitali turned to Bobcat loaders and excavators which bring results to the jobsite every day.
“Without my four Bobcat machines, forget it. I could not handle the business,” Bederak says. “As someone who works alone most of the time, I need reliable equipment. My Bobcat products work as hard as I do.”
His four Bobcat units include two excavators with the extendable-arm option, a compact track loader and a skid-steer loader. Supported by his local dealer, Bobcat of Palm Beach, Bederak has his machines on the job every day, relying on them to help him complete about 50 installations a year.
The excavators are used to dig the pools and plumbing trenches. The loaders haul out spoil, backfill and compact soil around the finished pool. “The extendable-arm option on the excavators is a valuable timesaver,” Bederak says. “I am able to extend the dig depth and reach without repositioning the machine. This feature is perfect for working in hard-to-reach locations, which is common on most of my jobs.”